“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” Henry James
Self-care is an important issue that is particularly close to my heart. I have learned the hard way that giving your all to caring for aging parents is not smart – it’s harmful to your body. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually I always felt drained when I cared for my father. My doctor diagnosed my ailments to a compromised endocrine system. To put it in layman’s terms, my body could not turn off the cortisol due to the constant stress.
Thankfully, I have recovered and feel well-rested and lucky – lucky to have learned some valuable lessons about life, compassion and self-care. I had forgotten that compassion and kindness begins at home. It begins with me! We must look after ourselves first, with love and compassion; then, and only then, can we turn to others and look after them.
Now I want everybody to start loving themselves. I am like the reformed smoker who wants everybody to quit smoking! Hey, it’s good for you…love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Have some compassion – for yourself!
Most of us have been taught to put others first. And strangely enough, I believe when we love ourselves, we do put others first; in fact, when we honour ourselves, we are honoring others. When we are kind to ourselves and love ourselves – guess what? – we are opening our hearts to more kindness. From my own experience, I have found that the more I care for myself and love myself, I find that I love and care for others on such a deeper level of awareness; I see them!
When we perform small acts of kindness, we honour our bodies, minds and spirits; our physical health, emotional health and spiritual health will begin to thrive.
Because when we are kind to others – we are kind to ourselves!
Say yes and thank you to a friend’s offer of help; instead of being self-sufficient, open yourself to accepting a gift of support. Yes, that is accepting a gift from the Universe (and you are now practicing an open mind.)
An open mind is a natural first step to accepting and receiving gifts. We mistakenly think all acts of kindness and gifts should come from ourselves, to others. But I believe that our gifts (talents, passions, and abilities) that we possess and want to share with others are gifts from the Universe. Gifts take many paths – to be fully a gift, it must spread far and wide. Gifts that come back to us are part of the Universe’s flow…do not stop them in their path. When we accept a gift from someone, we please them; we honour them. We thank them. All part of the flow and the magnitude of the gift. Because I believe gifts never end…they keep on giving, over and over.
Think of a good deed that you perform for a neighbour. Your neighbour is pleased and thankful and now her energy shifts to a loving and peaceful energy which she now shares with others. Her family notices the change in her energy fields – she is radiating love and gratitude. Her gratitude leads her to perform an act of kindness to another, and another. Those others share their loving energy and gratitude; and so it flows – over and over. What a beautiful thought, yes?
Perhaps a single word of kindness or a smile transforms a stranger’s mood and makes all the difference in the world. We do not know what our words of kindness may achieve; we only know that words of kindness matter. Always.
During a morning walk a few weeks ago, my husband and I passed a young man who was huddled, wearing a hoodie and low-hanging jeans. He stood in the centre of the sidewalk, immobile. He looked as if he had the world’s troubles on his back. My husband and I always greet people that we pass with a cheery “Good morning!” Often we stop and exchange our thoughts on the weather (it’s a Canadian thing to do. Eh!). My husband greeted the young man as we walked around him, “Good morning. It’s a beautiful day, is it not?” The young man look startled and he begrudgingly muttered to us, “Hmmp, if you say so.” My husband laughed out loud and answered, “Yes. We say so.”
I wish I could say the young man laughed and agreed with us. He did not. He turned away in disgust. But both my husband and I have many times since agreed that maybe, just maybe, we both needed to send him some loving energy – so we did.
I witness kindness and compassion every day that I visit the residence where my mother now lives. I see personal care workers hug the residents; I see personal care workers hold a resident’s arm as they walk down a hallway – the personal care worker singing “You Are My Sunshine.” I see volunteers who visit residents weekly and play cards, walk with them and talk to them. I witness loving energy every day.
And I have discovered that when we are kind and compassionate, we are transformed.
It is these simple acts of kindness, compassion, support, advice, attention, listening, smiling, complimenting and respecting that honour our fellow human beings. These simple acts connect us, and it is these connections that matter and make life worth living. These simple acts become transformative – for others and for ourselves.
The more that we learn to love and accept ourselves for who we are (just as we are), the more we learn to love and accept others for who they are (just as they are).
Kindness and compassion leads to love and acceptance. Kindness, compassion, love and acceptance – all gifts! Gifts that are meant to be shared.