Over many years studying human nature, one of the most valuable things I have learned is the life-changing magic of kindness. And the real challenge, and courage it takes, to practice kindness as a way-of-life.
Real kindness, to ourselves and others, means a commitment to understanding, acceptance and compassion. It involves noticing and letting-go of our tendencies to judge, complain, be 'better than' and to criticise.
Kindness is an awakening of the heart. It leads us to experience natural joy and peace, both within ourselves and for others. It allows us to make a genuine difference in the world.
I'm not suggesting that kindness means condoning or turning a blind-eye to violence, to not making a stand to protect the rights of others or against cruelty. But rather that kindness means FIRST making the effort to see and understand how everyone suffers and just wants to find happiness, albeit sometimes in their own limited, ignorant or harmful ways. Then doing what we can, within the scope of our own life to effect change, and then letting-go.
Try this as a kindness practice. Try going for one whole day without voicing any criticism, complaint or judgment - and see how you go!
Notice how common-place complaining, criticising and judging is around you. Notice what impact it has. Notice how judgment prevents connection. And notice and resist the urge to add your 'two cents worth' - this is often the really hard bit.
I promise, trying this practice, even for just one day, will open your eyes to how much 'unkindness' we create. And to the many everyday, real-life opportunities you have to cultivate an open-heart and to choose kindness.
Natalie Snooke is the founder of Momentum and an experienced coach, mindfulness meditation and yoga teacher. Natalie guides others to live with greater courage, compassion, purpose and authenticity. Apart from her regular classes held at Momentum, she runs inspiring and engaging workshops, retreats in Perth, Bali and India, as well as individual coaching programs.