The three equations of kindness

Treating a friend to a cup of coffee is one example of simple act of kindness.

Treating a friend to a cup of coffee is one example of simple act of kindness.

It’s time for a kindness comeback.

In this media driven, socially connected world we live in, kindness matters more than ever. The problem is, many view kindness simply as an act, which it is, but it’s more than that. Kindness is a lifestyle. It softens and warms the heart while making the world a nicer place to live.

Consider the acts of kindness you’ve witnessed, gave or received. How did you feel? Last year during a snowstorm, my boyfriend and I had to stop on an icy hill due to traffic. The wheels spun round and round and we didn’t move an inch, but it only took a few more tries until we finally got going. Only after we were moving was when we saw it. Down the highway, four young men had gotten out of their truck and were running in the snow towards us. They soon saw that we were fine, turned back and, sadly, we never got to thank them for the act of kindness they showed us, even though the act wasn’t fully carried out. Yet, just seeing their willingness to help made our day.

So what can we do to bring kindness back? Lots of things, really. But in order to do so, we must understand more about what kindness is and isn’t, and how we can use it effectively.

Kindness = Altruistic

While kindness is not selfish, it doesn’t happen solely for the benefit of those receiving. Let me explain. When choosing to do an act of kindness, what’s your motive behind it? To help because it makes you happy to see others happy? To show others that kindness makes for a better workplace because it causes work to be less stressful? We show kindness because it makes us feel good.

Kindness motivated by positive thoughts that also benefit us is healthy. It becomes unhealthy when one does an act of kindness without the heart in it. But more on that in the third equation.

Kindness ≠ Weakness

Sadly, kindness has become confused with weakness. In recent years, more and more companies are incorporating acts of kindness into their workplace. Consider Ikea Canada, which distributed more than 15,000 free packing boxes to help those moving in the summer. Or Kleenex, which allowed people to send free packs of tissues to their sick family and friends during its “Softness Worth Sharing” campaign.

When you ask for help, kindness comes to the rescue. People are willing to share their secrets and help you get the answers you need. What could be viewed as weak actually comes out as strong.

This doesn’t mean that you should let yourself get walked on and feel pressured into doing something because it’s the kind thing to do. Remember the first equation: Kindness is altruistic. Kindness is positivity. If anyone or anything tells you to do a “kind” act and it’ll have a negative effect on someone else, or if you don’t feel like your heart isn’t fully into it, don’t do it. Don’t associate kindness with weakness or negativity.

Mindfulness + Kindness

They go hand in hand. Transitioning towards kindness requires mindfulness, whether it’s intentional or not. Making the conscious effort to be mindful of every interaction with another person will affect you positively, causing you to feel compelled to spread more kindness, which in turn encourages you to be more mindful. Mindfulness and kindness feed on each other in a beautiful, wonderful cycle.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. ~ Colossians 3:12

I encourage you to begin thinking of kindness as not just an act, but as a lifestyle. Approach each person mindfully, with your full attention, smiling, seeking to understand them, trying to interact with gentleness, warmth and compassion.

In seeking to understand them, listen to their needs, both verbal and nonverbal. Find ways in which you can simplify their life and address their needs. More often than not, we become so self-consumed in our lifestyle that we don’t take the time to give others our full attention. By doing this, we are pushing ourselves further away from creating meaningful relationships.

When someone comes to talk and visit with you, when your parents just need your attention or when your best friend has something to say, turn to them without distraction, putting everything else away and give your full attention. Listen. Be 100 percent present.

Kindness changes the world.

Brittany Houchins is a junior double majoring in business administration and communications. She has a love for simple details and breathtaking views of nature. In her free time, Brittany also writes a faith-based lifestyle blog, The Kardia, focused on sharing inspiration and encouragement for living an intentional and simple life.