“Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now.” – Jack Kerouac
Although it may be challenging to be genuinely kind in a world full of people trying to take advantage of you, the act of kindness is always as precious as gold. Sometimes, to be kind is to be vulnerable, especially to exploitation. Adam Philips and Barbara Taylor express this concern with more clarity:
“In one sense kindness is always hazardous because it is based on a susceptibility to others, a capacity to identify with their pleasures and sufferings. Putting oneself in someone else’s shoes, as the saying goes, can be very uncomfortable. But if the pleasures of kindness — like all the greatest human pleasures — are inherently perilous, they are nonetheless some of the most satisfying we possess.”
Kindness can come at a high cost for some people, especially those who want to be too “street-smart” to be “exploited” or “vulnerable”. However, we ought to be honestly kind to each other. In a sense, we make the world a better place by expressing kindness.
A Celebration of Kindness
In celebration of the Mental Health Awareness Week hosted by Mental Health foundation, whose theme for this year is kindness, we at ELSiEiSY Blog have asked a number of people to share their experience of kindness with us through an online survey. With responses across all age brackets in different parts of the world, one thing that is certain for each person is the importance of kindness in impacting lives. Like Aesop, the ancient Greek storyteller, once said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Therefore, we hope that by doing this, we will inspire more acts of kindness across the world.
There are different ways to express kindness, whether you are financially stable or not. Kindness is not limited to your financial strength. For instance, Aanuoluwapo I., a student residing in Ibadan, Nigeria, expresses kindness by reaching out to people on her contact list to check up on them and coordinates more than one engaging training to help people around her stay positive in a world that can be depressing. As simple as this act of kindness might be, some people will likely feel less lonely and more positive-minded with the help of Aanuoluwapo.
Like Aanuoluwapo, Tosin A., a media entrepreneur in Lagos, Nigeria, has a habit of calling and checking up on people on her contact list, including her family and staff members. She goes the extra mile to send money to those who ask for financial assistance.
In a sense, kindness has no limitation. H.S., a programmer and designer residing in Abuja, expressed kindness by giving a stranger the tools and resources to learn how to code. What H.S. has done is to help this stranger access the necessary resources to build a career path as a programmer. Also, it means that we don’t have to limit our acts of kindness to only familiar faces. We should develop a habit of being kind to everyone, strangers or not.
Kindness can also be expressed in humanitarian services. You can be like certain kind-hearted people, such as Lydia O. (Lagos, Nigeria), L.K. (Abuja, Nigeria), T.K. (Lagos, Nigeria), Mimi (Lagos, Nigeria), Abimby (Lagos, Nigeria), Faa (Abuja, Nigeria), Wande D. (Lagos, Nigeria), GBS (Lagos, Nigeria), B.A. (Lagos, Nigeria), Ibro (Abuja, Nigeria), Uncle Day (Lagos, Nigeria), Benedicta B. (Lagos, Nigeria), C.J. (Lagos, Nigeria), Onyeka I. (Lagos, Nigeria), Shedrach E. (Lagos, Nigeria), Alex (Lagos, Nigeria), Human Catalyst (Lagos, Nigeria) and I.I (Lagos, Nigeria) who offer different forms of humanitarian services, ranging from giving out food packs to donating relief materials. Or you may simply offer giveaways online like Neyogy (Istanbul, Turkey). Or go a step further like Esther O. (Lagos, Nigeria), O.O. (UK), Ajmal A. (Lagos, Nigeria), Casmir A. (Lagos, Nigeria), and Uche N. (Lagos, Nigeria) by giving out money and advisory support to those in need.
Kindness and Mental Health
Kindness is a soothing balm to mental health. Laura C. (Kent, UK), who has committed her life to sharing kindness around the world, and runs a Facebook Group to promote the act of kindness, accentuates this:
“I’ve battled my mental health for 30 years. I have the first-hand experience and see loved ones and friends struggling too. Life can be tough, so it’s vital to be kind.”
By being kind, we are helping each other survive in a tough world, and this feeling is synonymous with the feeling of heaven on earth. According to a study, a good way to boost happiness is through constant acts of kindness. Therefore, kindness is fundamental to living a happy life for yourself and for other people around you. In the words of Mark Twain, “kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” It is essential to the entire human existence that we continue speaking in this language.
Protect Your Mental Health
As much as we say kindness is essential to our collective existence, it is also important that we study self to understand what works for us individually. Having a fair understanding of your mental health and what your individualism requires to stay fired up and implying them will help you protect your mental space. Kindness is important but when it is done at the detriment of self, it becomes a burden or better put – sacrifice. Yes we will have to bear burdens many times in our lifetimes and make sacrifices where necessary, but knowing when to pause and pull back to rejuvenate is highly important. And if it has to become a sacrifice, we must be settled within for the journey. Our online survey also aimed at understanding what people do to protect their mental health and the responses where basic enough for us to know that we don’t need to do much to achieve this. We just need to pause and demand some me time from self. “Listening to music, indulging self, reading, meditation, taking a nap, break from social media, talking to a therapist, staying of toxic news platforms and people, staying positive, getting enough rest, minding your business and interacting with friends and family” – All these are pretty simple steps to protect our mental space.
Be Kind, Even to Yourself
To conclude, we would like you to note that kindness is not just an act you express to other people. You need to be kind to yourself too. Lady Gaga once said, “I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself, and I’ve found that kindness is the best way.” Therefore, self-care is an essential act of kindness that you need to show yourself every day. Being kind to yourself includes taking a break to rest from work, eating well, and protecting your mental health. We are happy that all the responses understand the essence of kindness and mental health, and we hope they continue being kind as we build a healthier and happier world together.