Kindness & Happiness

Giving and receiving kindness is one of our most basic human characteristics. A kind word can feel soothing and comforting to us. It can help us feel valued and cared for and can be a catalyst to changing a low mood or negative feelings.

It can also feel good inside to be kind to others whether they are family, friends or strangers. When we are kind to others it changes how WE feel – there is an internal shift and a softening or feeling of warmth inside.

Being kind to ourselves

We are often kind, friendly and forgiving to others and yet we are often much harsher and more judgemental towards ourselves.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”.

Confucius.

This tendency is often called the Inner Self-Critic. We are all familiar with the voice in our head that says things like: “I did that really badly”, “I don’t fit in”, “I’ll never be as good as her/him/them”, “I’m useless, stupid, hopeless at….” etc…

Why is this?

We simply haven’t been taught kindness to ourselves and so it isn’t something most of us do naturally. We wouldn’t speak so harshly to a friend. Much more likely, if they felt that they had got something wrong we would play it down or say something nice that would cheer them up or make them laugh!

Being harsh to ourselves is something that can easily pass by unnoticed and become a habit.

Next time you are being judgemental to yourself notice how it makes you feel. Do you feel happy or unhappy?

Taking Perspective

We all want to be liked and receive approval, but we tend to set the bar really high in terms of always ‘getting it right’, always saying the right thing and keeping everyone happy. Of course it is inconceivable to do this consistently and we have set ourselves mission impossible. Nevertheless, when we feel we have failed in some way we can tend to give ourselves a hard time. Next time you find yourself being critical of yourself, try taking a step back and questioning if you are seeing things in black and white terms and if you would apply the same standards to others.

It’s good to start noticing how you are speaking to yourself and perhaps try some of the following…

  • When you have completed a task say to yourself “Well done and smile”
  • Try practicing speaking to yourself as you would to a good friend
  • Bring physical warmth and kindness to yourself by placing your hand on your heart or belly and breathe in the warmth and soothing feeling of the touch

Practice makes purrrfect!

Mattieu Riccard who is famous for his work on developing happiness says this is a skill, which takes practice. “Happiness is also a way of interpreting the world, since while it may be difficult to change the world, it is always possible to change the way we look at it”. He recommends saying phrases like these will make us happier. Try them out on yourself and on other people – even the odd random stranger! We aren’t trying to feel a certain way, but we are interested in the affect it has on us when we practice it over time.

May we be filled with loving kindness,

May we be healthy,

May we be peaceful

May I be happy and may all beings be happy

“In a society that profits from self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.” Caroline Caldwell

Next steps…

It is easy to think of mindfulness as something else ‘to do’ but with practice it can be a way of being more connected with ourselves whatever we are doing.

The Science
Take a Practice
Listen to the Podcast

One Small Thing…

Before you go to sleep, think of a kindness that you or someone else has done. It could be something small like a kind word or gesture to someone.

Savour that moment now and acknowledge how it makes you feel.

What do you notice?

It’s good to share…

Have you learnt something from these tools?
Do you know someone who might benefit?
Is there something we could do better?