Kindness is an invisible force – it settles in the nooks and crannies of life; in everyday’s little moments. It’s the smile that beams at the stranger on the road; the hand that holds the door open for the next person to pass. While seemingly insignificant, they unknowingly play a big part in our daily lives- it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t really settle in until there comes a time when you do without it.
I remember back in the old days when we would memorize the dos and don’ts for social interaction. It used to come so naturally: “Help the lady on the road with her groceries,” or “Lead a lost child to the police station.” It made sense to our 7-year-old brains back then, even if it was forced into us, but it doesn’t make much sense now that we’re older and we’ve been through more. After all, it’s not every day you encounter such situations, and for a while, I questioned if it was really that easy to be kind to others.
Somewhere along the lines, I learned that kindness is simple, and it manifests in so many shapes and forms. It’s the words of encouragement you tell yourself in front of the mirror; the seat you give up for the man in crutches; the forgiveness when waiting for someone who’s late. Being kind is as simple as that – all the little actions and words that make people feel a little better.
Unfortunately, the world isn’t always kind to everyone. There’s a lot of issues that make the world a not-so-forgiving place. As someone who grew up in a conservative community, for example, mental health and self-care are issues that were rarely ever brought up. I often found myself questioning if it was ever really normal to feel a little iffy on some days, or if it was selfish to take a break for me to breathe a little. Everyone looked perfectly normal on the outside, but there’s plenty of internal battles and struggles unseen by the public eye.
It’s so easy for people to be kind to others and not themselves, and that’s the hard truth that we all have to face. Are we kind enough to ourselves? I often hate myself for being unproductive, or for being unnecessarily careless at times. But I wasn’t reminded until recently that it’s important to take care of yourself, too. It’s incredibly unrealistic for us to constantly live up to other people’s expectations, and it can be very taxing at times. That’s where I learned that being kind to ourselves is just as important as being kind to others. It’s important to put yourself, your mental health, and your wellbeing as a top priority.
Being kind to ourselves, just as being kind to everyone else, is pretty simple – it’s taking out some time to do what you love; to spend time with people whose presence makes you feel worthy; to accept your emotions and to know that it’s alright to feel under the weather sometimes. It’s treating yourself to one more cookie; it’s celebrating that paper you just passed; it’s taking a break to wind down. It’s all the little things that make you feel a little better about yourself and the world around you, and it doesn’t have to be much.
Kindness starts with us. As they always say, in order to be kind to others, be kind to yourself first. I say while going out there and being kind to other people, remember that you are a part of them as well- even when the world is unkind, be kind- to everyone; to ourselves.