KINDNESS

 

Kindness in words creates confidence,
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness,
Kindness in giving creates love. – Lao Tse

 

In the month of Valentines’ Day, when romantic love is feted, I look at another type of love – caritas – altruistic neighbourly or brotherly love and kindness. Caring about others, according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau is what makes us fully human and is a pleasure that is fundamental to our sense of well-being and the strongest indicator of people’s pleasure in existence.

 

Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor in their newly published book ‘On Kindness’ purports that in a world of individualism and self-interest, kindness appears to have become a sign of weakness and such behaviour looked on with suspicion that its motives are self-seeking.

 

The meaning of kindness stretches from empathy, sympathy, generosity, altruism, benevolence, humanity, compassion to philanthropy. We may need to become more aware of our susceptibility to others in order to identify with their pleasures and sufferings –and do that possibly uncomfortable thing of walking in ‘another man’s shoes’. Kindness means we can bear the vulnerability of others and ourselves – we have to admit that we depend on each other in a world which values independence.

We know instinctively what the kind thing to do is and we know when a kindness is done to us. Whether the giver or the receiver, it gives us a sense of worth and. It creates the kind of intimacy and involvement with other people that we both fear and crave.

 

Being kind to ourselves is possibly the first biggest ‘hurdle’ to achieve kindness to others. This Valentine’s Day you could show kindness to your loved one with a voucher for a holistic therapy, or you could book some ‘time-out’, such as a massage, for yourself and either act will achieve not only emotional but also physical well-being.

 

“Kindness makes a fellow feel good whether it’s being done to him or by him”– Frank Clark

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