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 first nine of eighteen acts of kindness:

1)    Honesty. To act honestly, even at the risk of saying no and causing distress to others, if done with intelligence and tact, is the kindest thing to do, because it respects our own integrity and acknowledges in others the capacity to be competent and mature.

2) Warmth. We cannot live without warmth and closeness of others. Every day, countless people die a little bit for want of warmth. Usually it is the sense of touch we associate most of all with warmth. Like babies, we adults also need warmth – both psychological and physical warmth. But mostly we need someone to talk to, someone who knows and appreciates us, someone who cares about us. Warm, close connections are not only physical, but also spiritual and psychological. It is the capacity to enter another’s life and to let others enter yours, to reveal our own dreams, to be without fear.

3)   Forgiveness. Forgiveness is sometimes the only remedy for unspeakable sufferings. Because our thoughts influence each cell and organ in our body, we must decide if we will fill our thoughts with hate and revenge or love and happiness. As long as we do not face our anger it will remain. When we forgive, we are less concerned with judgment, and more with understanding;  when we forgive, the past no longer dominates us, our emotions are not colored by guilt or vindictiveness. We can only be kind when the past no longer dominates us.

4)   Contact. Entering into contact with others opens the door to which kindness can flow. Where you find contact between two people, you find the heart, you find an attitude that makes you feel that this person is right there, just for you, and that you are her or his priority at that moment – that you count.

5)   Sense of belonging. The sense of belonging is a basic need and at the same time answers the question: What am I a part of? Who am I? It may be impossible to know who we are without reference to others. We all need the protection and security that only the close relationship with other human beings can offer. Research has found that support is extraordinarily important for physical and mental health. Kindness is the act of reaching out to support those in need.

6)   Trust. Our survival is linked to trust; trust aids and nourishes us, and it multiplies our possibilities; trust creates intimacy. At the center of trust we find surrender; the ability to let go has a profound effect upon us. Trust and kindness go hand in hand; kindness is trusting and ready to risk; it brings us close to others.

7)   Mindfulness. The present moment never escapes us, because we are eternally immersed in it. To be in the present moment with someone else is a gift. The gift of attention is perhaps the most precious and envied of all, even though we do not always realize it. To be there, to be totally available, is what we secretly hope other people will do for us. Giving attention to someone in the present moment is a kindness; by paying attention, we attribute meaning and importance, we offer nourishment, we give energy of the heart, we can care for, we can love.

8)   Empathy. What seems to be a simple instinctual capacity, becomes the ability to understand other people’s feelings and points of view, to identify with them; we are able to step out of ourselves and enter into the lives of others. Empathy is a prerequisite for communication, collaboration, and social cohesion. The moment someone feels understood and realizes that we see the validity in his point of view, or identify with their experience, they are able to let go and feel healed. Compassion is the noblest result of empathy; it brings us out of our selfishness; it opens and unites us to others; it fills our heart.

9)   Humility. To realize how much you do not know is to treasure life’s lessons – that is humility. If you want to be at your best in learning, humility is your tool. Humility helps us to understand we are one among many, mortal, and limited; others exist, each with their needs, realities, hopes, and dramas. When we understand we are not the only one who is important, humility places us in a state where we can be kind to others.

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