by Peggy Owens
We live in a world full of violence, war, terrorism, evil and devastation, so it may be difficult or feel pointless to talk about kindness. However, the exploration of kindness can lead us all to a peaceful world and a fulfilled life.
Kindness has many facets, but its essence is as simple as can be. Mother Teresa once said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Kindness is an attitude that uses little effort and is economic, too. It saves us energy that we may otherwise waste in worry, manipulation and unnecessary defense. It truly brings us back to the “simplicity of being.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, “To give without any reward, or any notice, has a special quality of its own.” Kindness represents the most tender and intimate feelings in us. We are often scared to express it fully—especially for men in our culture, but also women—because we are afraid that if this vulnerable side is exposed, we might suffer, be offended, ridiculed or exploited. In reality, we actually suffer more by not expressing kindness.
It is not always easy to be kind. Our society often sabotages us. Human relations are becoming colder, almost obsolete. Communication is more hurried and impersonal. Values, such as profit and efficiency, are more important at the expense of human kindness, touch and genuine presence. Family affection and friendships suffer and relationships do not last. Kindness should always have presence.
We have more knowledge and possibilities than ever before to cultivate kindness. We are, however, in an era where the heart is cold … like an Ice Age. The causes of this are many: new technologies, the decline of the extended family, weakening values, the fragmentation and superficiality of our world, and the accelerating pace of life. The “cold heart” is worrisome, as it goes hand in hand with the epidemic of depression and panic attacks. These two psychological problems are directly linked to lack of warmth, kindness, a reassuring and protective community, and a weakened sense of belonging. Mark Twain said, “To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you might just be the world.”
Kindness might itself appear to be lightweight; however, never forget how important it is in our lives. It can surprisingly transform us and is synonymous with mental health. It has been scientifically proven that kind people are healthier, live longer, have greater success and are happier than others. They are much better equipped to face life in all of its tumultuous, frightening chaos.
Aldous Huxley, the great English writer and pioneer in the study of philosophies and techniques aimed at developing human potential, was asked toward the end of his life, “What is the most effective technique for transforming lives?” He responded, being a little embarrassed that after years of research and experimentation, that his best answer was, “Just be a little kinder.”
There is no doubt we would all be better off in a kinder world. It is like the universal remedy, so pass it on. Kindness is like a snowball that’s rolling down a hill. Each unselfish act or word is another snowflake that greets others creating something much larger than itself in the process. It is up to us. It is a choice that each of us needs to make in our lives: to take the road of oblivion, selfishness and abuse or the road of solidarity and kindness. So if we treat each other and our planet a little better with more kindness, we can survive, and even thrive.
Peggy Owens is a physical therapist and owner of Natural Balance Integrative Care, located at 17200 N. May Ave., Ste. 200, in Edmond. For more information, call 405-541-1078 or visit NaturalHealingBalance.com.