With Dr. Olga Filippa Nel, Clinical Psychologist
The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness. I found it inspirational, as we could all use a little more kindness in our lives.
Lao Tsu wrote that “kindness in words creates confidence; kindness in thinking creates profoundness; kindness in giving creates love”. But what does kindness mean to you? Growing up, we are conditioned to understand kindness as being nice to other people, making them feel better and doing good deeds as often as possible. That is absolutely correct but it is also just the tip of the iceberg as the concept goes much deeper.
One definition of kindness points out that it is also “behaviour marked by ethical characteristics”, suggesting that it’s about living with integrity, knowing what your principles and ethics are and what right and wrong means in your life. Kindness is also more than just deeds, it is anything that lifts another person, a look, a hug, an empathic word.
Practice kindness by applying it to the three key areas of your life. Treat yourself with kindness and care for yourself as you would do a cherished friend. Quieten the critical inner voice, connect with your emotions, take time to relax, do something for pleasure. Treat others with kindness by being unconditionally accepting, do not judge. Step out of yourself and be selfless, be of service. Give others a chance to talk, listen with empathic understanding. Make Random Acts of Kindness a daily habit. Be kind to the earth by keeping your footprint light. Recycle, make your own compost with organic waste, grow herbs and vegetables, share the surplus. Be mindful of precious resources, like water and paper. “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted” (Aesop).
Dr. Olga Filippa Nel