WHAT IS KINDNESS?

What is kindness to you - how do we define kindness in our lives?

WHAT IS KINDNESS TO YOU?

This was the question Denyse asked on her Life This Week link up. Kindness is a term we throw around with abandon, but it's one that I couldn't actually define in a sentence or two. It's a rather nebulous concept really when you stop and think about it. Is my idea of kindness the same as someone else's? Do we look at it differently depending on how we've been brought up, or from what we've experienced in our lives so far.

GETTING SOME GUIDANCE

While I was thinking about kindness I remembered the Virtues Project and the different definitions they've come up with for various character traits we should be cultivating (like detachment that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago). I delved a little deeper and found this description from their literature:

KINDNESS

Kindness is caring that springs from compassion.
We have genuine concern for the welfare of others.
We are warm, friendly and ready to help.
We listen to the needs beneath the words.
We give tender attention in simple ways that bring others happiness.
Kindness is the daily bread of love.
When we feel angry, we resist the temptation to be cruel.
We balance honesty with tact.
We are good stewards of the earth and all living things.
We remember to be kind to ourselves .
When we fill our own cup, our kindness overflows to others. 

DEPTH AND BREADTH

What I liked about their description is the vastness of it. It wasn't only about doing good deeds for others, but it included being good to ourselves, and being good to the earth and all that's in it. I like that the outcome from kindness is happiness and love, that we look inwards and outwards with warmth and compassion. It's about self-care and about selflessness (which sound like opposites) rolled together to make something beautiful.

I felt like it is a reflection of how God loves us and how he wants us to love others. Reaching out and wanting the best for someone, being there with them when they are hurting, and not doing anything that would causes hurt or upset. Kind people shine a light in our world and are examples of love being lived out daily. It shows on their faces and in their actions - certainly something to aspire to isn't it?

Be the living expression of God's kindness - Mother Teresa

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

This prompt has really made me think about what kindness is on a deeper level and whether I'm actively practicing it in my life. Has it made you think about it differently, or do you have a different concept of it altogether? I'm always interested in other people's points of view so feel free to give me your thoughts in the comments section.
 
What is kindness to you - how do we define kindness in our lives?

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18 comments

  1. When the word kindness is up for discussion, the saying "being cruel to be kind doesn't often come to mind. However, I think it's very true and an action that can be more genuine than. some other acts of kindness. Yes, the recipient of that kind action may not see it as that at the time, but in the long term will be thankful further down the track.

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    1. I am always so hesitant about the word "cruel" Jenni - probably because people often use it as an excuse to hurt others (like "speaking the truth in love") I think sometimes we need to be strong or firm in how we deal with others and not pander to them - hopefully that doesn't involve being cruel though.

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  2. Hi, Leanne - I really like this definition of kindness that you shared from the Virtues Project. I agree that the vastness of the definition really makes it stand out. Two lines that really struck me were: "We listen to the needs beneath the words" and ;When we fill our own cup, our kindness overflows to others.' Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. I think kindness has a real selfless attitude attached to it Donna, but we have to remind ourselves to that if we over-give then we drain our own well dry. It would be nice to think that there is a give and take aspect to it :)

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  3. Hi Leanne what a lovely definition of kindness and I like that it includes being kind to yourself. I think that is very important as we often forget about us as we put our energy into making others happy. I must check out the Virtue Project. Thanks for sharing at #overthemoon

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    1. I like the Virtue Project for the thoughtfulness of their definitions - we often look at things on a superficial level but they seem to dig a little bit deeper.

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  4. "Good stewards of the earth," I immediately thought of Leave No Trace which is the philosophy in hiking that you leave the trail just as you found it, that you pack out what you packed in and don't leave garbage for others to find. That you're only going places that can sustain your presence and not degrading delicate places.

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    1. My husband is a hiker Jennifer and he definitely abides by the Leave No Trace mantra and it's so important in all aspects of life - clean up your own garbage - physical, mental, emotional and don't expect others to do it for you :)

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  5. Lovely definition of kindness. I think of kindness as springing from a well of gratitude as well as compassion.

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    1. That was a lovely analogy Linda - I don't think you can easily be kind if you feel hard done by or cheated - it sucks the joy out of you and you have nothing left to share with others. I guess that's why the definition talks about being kind to yourself as well as others.

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  6. A lovely and thought-filled post which resonated about kindness. It IS a bigger thing than a word we bandy about isn't it?

    Being kind(er) to ourselves is a start for me I think as I grew up with 'don't be selfish' ....and yet, now if I am not self-compassionate I am not being kind to myself!

    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek 4/52. Next Week is the FIRST photo-centred prompt (no topic!) called #ShareYourSnaps. Looking forward to seeing everyone's photos every 5th week this year!

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    1. I know what you mean about being kind to everyone but yourself Denyse - it's something we have to teach ourselves and allow ourselves some leeway and a little bit of grace.

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  7. The world would be such a better place if we all believed kindness was key.
    Carol Cassara

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    1. Wouldn't it just Carol? Kindness, grace, gratitude, giving the benefit of the doubt - all things this world would be better off with.

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  8. Leanne, I love this post. Gives a number of concrete ways we can express kindness every day.

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  9. I love this very rich description of kindness. We all agree that the world needs more kindness. I also love the inclusion of being kind to ourselves. Sometimes that is difficult to do, and many of us are harsh self-critics. However when we do treat ourselves with kindness I think it helps us to build compassion for others.

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    1. I completely agree Michele - if we can let ourselves make mistakes and not beat ourselves up over it, it allows us to grant the same grace to others. It also makes us calmer and nicer people in the bargain.

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  10. Hi Leanne just shared on my new FB group. Thanks for linking up to #BloggersPitStop and have a great weekend.

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