My religion is very simple. My religion is Kindness. Dalai Lama

When I first heard the Dalai Lama express this altruistic sentiment more than 20 years ago, I was struck in the heart with a profundity of the wisdom of his compassionate statement. I believe there is one thing that we all can relate to — human kindness — no matter what our religious beliefs are.

There have been many instances throughout my life when I have experienced the kindness of others. Kindness solidified my awareness that all of us belong to a benevolence of shared humanity. Those unsolicited moments generated a sense of expanding heart-gratitude for the thoughtfulness, act or gift offered.

Kindness in the Season of Thanksgiving

Photo courtesy of BK under Flickr Creative Commons License 2.0.

If we think back over the relationships and highlights of our lives, we often remember those unforeseen moments contained something beneficial that came our way, beyond our effort, plan or expectation. Someoneโ€™s kindness helped us feel better, make a leap of courage, or be guided to something new. That special assistance — often unearned, unforeseen, unplanned and unnoticed — was and is a blessing.

No doubt, kindness is a boomerang. There is a positive vibrational feedback loop between kindness, grace and happiness. Kindness is good for the giver (me), and benefits the receiver (you). Itโ€™s this connection that spontaneously gives birth to the mutuality of belonging and self-worth.

What’s your superpower?

Thereโ€™s a “superpower” in kindness. Given and received, kindness reduces blood pressure, cortisol, inflammation and pain levels, while easing anxiety and depression. Those of us in the helping professions understand that the way an individual interacts with others is directly linked to his or her physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Kindness is healing. We know that our physical health influences how we feel about each another in a positive, self-sustaining, upward spiral of cheerfulness. Doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being.

Kindness boosts our neurohormonal chemistry by increasing serotonin and oxytocin naturally so that we feel more connected to ourselves and others and experience increased energy, overall pleasure and happiness.

As social beings, we thrive when we feel connected, accepted, appreciated and cared for by others. Kindness is a pro-social behavior that changes our WE relationships by inspiring caring social connections.

Doing the kind thing

I’ve learned that people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou

Evolutionary psychologists suggestย when people do something kind for someone else, the recipient feels compelled to act with reciprocity. Studies show that being selfish and self-focused can prevent us from being as successful as we could be. Acts of caring kindness and generosity are the factors that are very likely imperative to help us survive, reproduce and thrive as a species.

Itโ€™s in our biology. We are hard-wired to be compassionate and kind! Kindness softens our hearts toward others and certainly improves our relationships at every level. We feel good helping others.

Prosocial behaviors comprise intentional acts that benefit others. A smile, cheerful โ€œhelloโ€ and sparkling eye contact all help people feel visible, worthy of belonging and safe. An act of kindness could change a personโ€™s day and becomes a selfless gift of grace.

A kind invitation to give to yourself and others

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. Albert Schweitzer

Kindness makes the world a better place and as we pay it forward, we contribute to the general happiness of ALL our relations. The essence of loving-kindness is being able to offer genuine authentic happiness to yourself and others.

Today, I invite you to nourish your choices to be intentionally kind.

Toward your โ€œIโ€ self

  • When life becomes stressful, remember to feel empathy and compassion for your struggle and whisper loving, kind words to yourself.
  • Stay attentive to the support of your 4 Doctors and be mindful of the CHEK Six Foundation Principles of Health.
  • Take time to work in and breathe deeply, nourishing your inner chi.
  • Connect with the intuitive guidance of your heart trusting your soulโ€™s presence.

Toward your โ€œWEโ€ relations

  • Expand your sensitivity and awareness of our shared humanity by nurturing empathy and compassion through witnessing the suffering and struggles in others.
  • Make it a spiritual practice to notice the emotional tone of other people. Connect with a soothing tone of voice, a kind word, a light touch, a smile or a message that you care.
  • Choose something or someone you appreciate (a person, pet or nature) and radiate feelings of appreciation and gratitude for a minimum of two minutes.
  • Engage in โ€œrandom acts of kindnessโ€ with family and friends, but also to those who are lonely or disheartened strangers on the street. Pay close attention to their responses.

Toward your โ€œALLโ€ relations

  • Become an integral part of the solution for addressing our environmental, economic and social challenges. Know that even the smallest actions make an immense difference.
  • We teach what we are. Model kindness for our children and praise their character.
  • Join with like-minded and like-hearted individuals to pay kindness forward as an intentional healing practice generating gratitude and peace worldwide.
  • Become a kindness ambassador. Remember we live in an interconnected universe and our thoughts, actions and deeds make a difference in our co-creative experience. Kindness is contagious!

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. Lao Tzu

Kindness is love in action. Itโ€™s grace. When our hearts are filled with loving-kindness, we multiply the benefits of kindness and gratitude, co-creating happiness and grace ALL around us. This is what gives meaning to our lives and context for our purpose, inspiring others to do the same.

Kindness is my religion.

For more information about the links between kindness and good health, check out Stanford University School of Medicine’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

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