Build Healthy Relationships: 18 Acts of Kindness

Kindness has surprising power to transform us, perhaps more than any other attitude or technique. Kindness gives meaning and value to our life, raises us above our troubles and our battles, and makes us feel good about ourselves. Kindness and compassion are among the principal things that make our lives meaningful. They are a source of lasting happiness and joy. They are the foundation of a good heart, the heart of one who acts out of a desire to help others; through kindness we ensure our own benefit. Consideration for others is worthwhile because our happiness is inextricably bound up with the happiness of others. The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci powerfully takes you on a journey involving the exploration of core acts of kindness. The following are the last nine of eighteen acts of kindness:

1) Patience. To exhibit kindness in a relationship, there must be no expectation or desire, otherwise we fall into an “I” relationship; we transform the other person into a means of satisfying our demands. Caught up in urgency, we forget what is truly important in life. Pushed on by the demon of haste, we forget our souls, our dreams, our warmth. It is clear how patience is part of kindness, for how can we be kind if we do not respect the rhythm of others? Patience is simply a different perception of time. Kindness has a slow pace.

2) Generosity. The true benefit of generosity, for the giver, is not a material advantage but an inner revolution; we put less emphasis on possessions and more in people. When you are generous you do not spare yourself; your possessions, your knowledge and abilities, your time and resources, your energy – are shared with others. This is compassion; this is generosity. Our relationships are defined by how much of ourselves we communicate and give.

3) Respect. Kindness is blind without respect. When someone has taken the trouble to get to know us and to treat us for who we are, recognize us as real and unique, appreciate our worth – this is respect.

Respect does not exist without listening and tolerance. Respect allows other people be what they are without surrounding them with our  judgments, advice, pressure, and hopes that people be this way or that; we do well to trust that they can invent their own destiny. Without his space kindness is suffocated.

4) Flexibility. Flexibility implies freedom from attachment, wakefulness in the present, acceptance of what is. If we can let go of beliefs in which we are most fond, then we can be open to the new. Remember, reality knows nothing of our plans. The ability to be flexible will resonate kindness in our relationships. If we do not adapt to the new, we will be stressed, in a bad mood, irritated, hostile, or overwhelmed by a situation we do not expect, and will therefore be unkind. Flexible people accept what is, they are easier to be with. If we manage to relax our rigidity and not take our expectations seriously, we will give space to others to be what they want to be.

5) Memory. We cannot be kind if we forget those who are no longer useful to us. Many people in our lives seem to grow obsolete. For a while they are useful, interest us, stimulate us; then they lose importance and we forget them. To be forgotten because we do not count is devastating. To be remembered, valued, taken into consideration makes us feel worthwhile.

6) Loyalty. When we lose the strength to take a risk and to commit ourselves, we live on the surface. Relationships that exist only for someone’s advantage – money, pleasure, social contact, prestige – have a fragile foundation. In relationships, what counts most is not extracting from another a tangible benefit, but the good feeling that comes from giving presence, support, and friendship over time. Loyalty is ”being with,” and continuing to honor what counts most in spite of obstacles. A friend’s loyalty gives us hope and strength; loyalty is the substance and strength to kindness.

7) Gratitude. It is difficult to be kind without being grateful. The possibility of feeling grateful is open to all of us in every moment of our life. Gratitude is simply being thankful for what we have – it an attitude of the mind; it is the ability to recognize the value of what life offers us; it is the ability to see value even in humble, unremarkable situations.

8) Service. Serving others brings about the best in ourselves. If our true goal is to gain admiration and recognition, we will give up. But if we are motivated to help someone heal, feel better, find herself, know what to do, and make progress in her growth, we will continue. Service not only helps the receiver, but also the server. Whoever offers service must improve himself in order to do what he has done; he must think about others rather than only about himself; he must learn; he must find value in what he does and recognize the added meaning to his life.

9) Joy. A happy disposition and an optimistic attitude is at the core of kindness. True, deep happiness comes to us when our life has meaning. We can only be truly useful to others if we follow that which enriches and inspires us. So first we must identify what gives our life meaning and joy. When our life is meaningful and joyful, our relationships will be easier, more vital, and beautiful.

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