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Penny Power Ponders the Essence and Practice of Kindness to bond and lift one another

This week, a conversation disturbed me deeply. Someone during an interview to join BIP100, mentioned they rarely experienced acts of kindness, the subject came up as I explained that kindness was one of our core values within our community. This conversation set me on a reflective journey about the essence of kindness, how we practise it, and why it might feel so rare in today’s fast-paced world.

The simple definition of kindness, according to the Oxford dictionary is:

“the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate”

Kindness is a simple word with deep implications. It’s a fundamental human act, however, our own needs often clash with the needs of others, acts of kindness can be rare in an economy and society that is often driven by self-interest and the sense of scarce time. Why is this the case? Why does kindness seem so hard to give and receive?

As the definition states, kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. We can give a lot of time to someone, or we can have simple acts, a smile, a thoughtful word, or helping without being asked, all these show that other person that they are seen and relevant.

I imagine most of us, if we actually take time to notice the simple pleasures of small acts of kindness, do experience it. However I think we are all thirsty for kindness to go deeper, to connect with others on a fundamental level. Perhaps the challenge is that everyone is so busy, seeking productivity, managing the demands of technology. Deep kindness involves empathy, compassion, and genuinely understanding the needs and feelings of others. I believe we are all kind, however, we have learned to focus inwardly, almost having blindfolds on to protect our own time and needs, missing the opportunities to be kind

Here are some observations and a few ideas about how we can be more intentional with our desires to make a difference to our fellows..

Cultural challenges

Our modern human life is not natural, we have adapted to it, through need. We now spend far too much time on short meetings, seeking outputs, focusing on tasks, and the warmth of human connection is sometimes replaced by brief, impersonal exchanges. At the end of the day, do we tick off the tasks we have achieved, or do we reflect on how many times we found the opportunity to be kind?

One thing for sure, my heart swells when I have had the chance to help someone, it energises me. Achieving tasks is a great feeling, but that is more for my brain, and that usually exhausts me by the end of a day. I know which emotion I gain the best energy from, the one human act I seek out each day, in all human interaction is kindness.

Kindness doesn’t require a perfect setting or occasion. It is appropriate and impactful in almost any situation—from the boardroom to the supermarket queue. Being kind is about recognising a moment where a gesture can uplift someone, ease a burden, or bring a smile.

Here are a 10 ways we can find to be kind..

  1. Be Present: Pay attention to what’s happening around you. Often, opportunities to be kind arise spontaneously, and taking advantage of them requires being fully present.
  2. Listen Actively: Listening is a powerful act of kindness. By genuinely listening to others, we validate their feelings and experiences.
  3. Start Small: Kindness doesn’t have to be grandiose. Small, consistent acts of kindness can ripple out and have a profound impact on our communities
  4. Lead by Example: Demonstrate kindness in your actions. Let your behaviour inspire others in your community, family or organisation to prioritise kindness.
  5. When someone says they are exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed, sad, worried, offer them a chat, it doesn’t have to be straight away, a message later on in the day, reminding them that you heard them and care will make them feel so supported.
  6. Make an introduction to someone that would help their business, a new client, a new expert as a supplier
  7. Make a note in your diary of a date that someone said was important to them, an operation, a big birthday, an important event and send them a few words of encouragement.
  8. Encourage people to share the wins they have achieved, celebrate that win with them.
  9. Create a safe space in your relationship with them where they know they can contact you when in need, and ask them if you can also contact them. This two way relationship is a great bond.
  10. Ensure that you are always honest about your own challenges, show your human side, none of us are perfect, and none of us are without vulnerabilities.

Kindness as a Way of Life

Ultimately, integrating kindness into our daily lives enhances our relationships and enriches our communities. It fosters an environment where everyone can thrive.

This week, perhaps reflect on how you can make kindness not just an act you perform, but a core part of who you are. Everyone of us has this incredible gift inside us. It can start right now, the moment you next see someone, be it a stranger or a friend.

This week, challenge yourself to perform at least three additional, deliberate acts of kindness. Notice not only how these acts affect others but how they enrich your own life and sense of well-being.

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