Kindness is quiet. Still. It doesn’t jump around shouting ‘Look at me! See how kind I am!’. It is little, and at the same time – oh, so big. Kindness often goes unnoticed. Someone making you a cup of tea, mind open, ready to share in your problems. A child’s teddy bear placed hopefully on a bench, in anticipation of being reunited with their best friend. A seat given up on public transport because today, today you look weary (and someone has noticed).
Kindness is seen in how we treat others, ourselves and, I believe, our planet. In theory, it’s easy to be kind, but in practice – well, it gets lost amongst the rush of daily life and taking one another for granted. Yet the energy needed to be unkind is far greater than taking a moment to think of how to treat yourself or another a little better.
The Fundamentals of kindness
For all the talk of self-care becoming a meaningless ‘buzzword’, being gentle with yourself is of utmost importance. The bottom line is simple: be kind to yourself. Whatever it is that makes you feel rested, grateful and in touch with your inner voice, do that. For me, that’s 10 minutes of meditation, followed by a few gentle stretches (usually in my pyjamas), a cup of tea and some journalling. For you it could be putting the radio on, singing along loudly whilst busting out your best moves. Or calling your closest friend for a chat; picking up an old fave of a book, tuning into a favourite podcast.
Once you’ve filled up your own kindness cup, have a think on what being kind to others could look like to you. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture: in fact, it shouldn’t be. A big bunch of expensive flowers is nice, but more thoughtful is a daffodil picked from the garden, providing a friend with hope that spring is coming – however long their winter has been (for the sun always shines eventually). Look beyond your immediate close relationships too. Is there anyone in your neighbourhood who could do with that moment of connection? A charity fundraiser you could support? How about your online friendships – could you nurture them further? Ruth Poundwhite’s recent #onlineactsofkindness challenge was a wonderful way of feeling gratitude for internet inspirations and friendships.
Finally, there is – unfortunately – no fast solution to looking after this beautiful green and blue planet of ours. And this is where you really have to be kind to yourself. Because for all your good intentions and articles on sustainable/zero-waste shopping and living you read, the truth is – it’s pretty hard to break out of our consumerist, earth-destoying ways. It’s so ingrained in our society, that it would take every single human to collectively stop behaving the way we’ve been for decades in order to even begin to restore our planet to its best. But that doesn’t mean we can’t slowly and considerately try. Small things I’ve been doing include swapping out the ocean-destroying micro plastics of a shower pouf for a flannel; shower gel for soap and stick deodorant for bar deodorant. I’m also shopping more sustainably – I’m no longer the fast-fashion girl of my twenties and don’t tend to buy for the sake of buying. In other words, I’m being just a little more thoughtful, and hopefully a little kinder too.
How Does Kindness Fit With Slow Living?
Kindness cannot be rushed. It takes a little forethought and forces you to take time to think about yourself and others, noticing the people and world around you. It’s also very individual – what’s considered the upmost of kindness to you will be very different to another. These two things are really how I view slow living in general – it’s not a journey you jump on to then a week later proclaim ‘I’m living slow!’; and it’s different for everyone. I’m unlikely to be someone who cooks with the seasons or grows her own veg but I can certainly take the time to check in with myself each day and encourage others to find the joy in the cracks of life.
The above comes from a previous inspire & enjoy newsletter. I send them monthly & each ‘issue’ I share a more in-depth look into my version of slow living. There’s always some personal behind the scenes thoughts, a round up of some shop slow buys to add to your home too and a few journalling prompts for you to mull over.
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