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Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

 

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In our society, kindness is getting good airplay. From Ellen Degeneres’ show benediction of “be kind to one another”, to The Kindness Project, to the hit movie, Wonder, to the #beccatoldmeto campaign, the work of Orly Wahba’s life vest inside movement,  or the resurgence of performing random acts of kindness, to volumes of books and a web full of videos, kindness is in.

What is kindness and what is the opposite of kindness?

Those were the two questions I asked on my FaceBook account, a few weeks ago.

Over fifty-five people responded, mostly females, varying in ages from four to … retired (I wouldn’t want to be unkind in my estimates). Those who responded live in North America, mostly in Canada.

The other day, I posted the results of the question,

why be kind?

The responses were great to read, and I loved that, in a few cases, a conversation between two or more strangers would break out (I guess you could say kindness broke out). Some said that to show kindness was innate, others firmly felt that to be kind was a conscious choice.

Many shared that it was anything but altruistic, as it “feeds their soul”, “makes one feel better about oneself”, “elicits kindness in return”.

A great many people referred directly or indirectly to the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) of:

“do to others what you would want them to do for you” 

Some said that we should be kind because it is how we want to be treated, some saying that if we are kind to others, kindness would come back us.

Others felt that to be kind is the right thing to do and it could change the world.

Still others responded that, as Christians, kindness has been offered and modelled by Christ, therefore it is expected of us.

A few mentioned the difficulty of knowing how to give and receive kindness, the struggle of giving from a place of brokenness, emptiness. Whereas another said, “kill them with kindness, it can defuse tension and transform relationships”

There were great quotes (mostly by Mother Teresa) and, from a ten year old, “well, if we weren’t kind, everyone would punch each other and hate each other and the world would go downhill.” Amen!

One person sent me a link to an article on five researched-based reasons to be kind, including:

  • it is inbuilt (there can be innate tendencies)
  • it can have positive effects on the brain (drug-free mood-enhancing effects)
  • can help you live longer (but only the one performing the act of kindness, not the one receiving it’s benefits)
  • is contagious (if you are kind, and they are kind …)
  • it can make you happier (for up to a month after committing the kindness)

As I read and reflected on the results of the question, why be kind?, I found myself reflecting on one particular response …

“why not be kind?”

Our lives are complex, demanding and sometimes downright difficult. There are so many different directions that we are pulled, so much expectation on us each day. Then there is the news … that daily onslaught of what is wrong in our world.

If each of us were to make the effort each day to show kindness to another, truly it would be doing for others as we would like to be done to ourselves. Truly it could improve the day for another sojourner on this planet … and it would probably improve our own day as well.

“why not be kind?”

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One of the most common disorders for adolescents, and increasing in numbers affected, is anxiety.

According to Free Dictionary, anxiety is everything from “uneasiness caused by fear … to apprehension or worry accompanied by physical symptoms common in mental illness or following a distressing experience.”

Anxiety is part of being human. At an early age, when a mother or father leave their child with someone else, and the child experiences the anxiety of separation from those parents who represent safety and security for them. This may produce tears, screaming and death-grip holds on mom and dad.

Anxiety commonly also can occur during the stage of night terrors (nightmares), starting school, moving, death of a loved one, divorce of parents, an upcoming test/exam, a trip, a marriage, an illness and on, and on.

Children with anxiety disorders are missing out on school, on friendships, on life experiences, because they are filled and dominated by fears. 

What is it that has caused the increase in anxiety of children, to the point of being diagnosed with a disorder?

Some claim it is violent video games, addictive use of social media, sexualization of children, and/or the breakdown of the family. All of those things can certainly contribute to feelings of anxiety.

Whatever the reason, the problem is before us, as parents, as people who work in schools and churches and places of recreation. 

So, what can we do for someone in our life who has (or may be silently dealing with) anxiety and fear? 

Be kind.

It may seem like an oversimplified response, and kindness does not dissolve fears and anxiety, but it really can help. 

The thing about kindness is that it can let someone know that they have been noticed, that they matter. Kindness can make someone feel good, make them smile. To receive kindness is to receive an unexpected, often unmerited gift. Kindness can give hope to one who may not feel there is any hope. Kindness can provide comfort, consolation.

Kindness is not the cure, but it might be a little remission from the fears that dominate.

 

 

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imagesRecently I was asked if I could share with another person what I do when teaching Life Skills to students, and I immediately became self-conscious and intimidated at the thought of having to put what I teach into words.

To teach Life Skills is daunting. There no, one, curriculum to utilize, because each student in a Life Skills class has such very different needs to be learned, comes from a unique cognitive and developmental stage, and has specific behavioral ‘triggers’ to be either avoided or sought. The result is a ‘curriculum’ pulled together from many sources, with extremely specific (and yet, general) goals, and the only expectation (on my part) can be that an allusive ‘something’ will have been learned, that will be useful in the present and/or future life of the student.

So, what are the most important life skills to be learned?

I have come up with an acronym for the word, Life Skills:

L – Learn

  • be willing to learn new things, every day
    (“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance” Proverbs 1:5)

I – Initiate

  • be willing and able to start a friendship, a conversation
    (“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” Hebrews 10:25)

F – Fitness

  • be willing to keep your body active
    (“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” Romans 12:1)

E – Each Other

  • be willing to care for each other
    (“Bear one another’s burdens” Galatians 6:2)

S – Speak

  • be willing to speak the right things to the right people
    (“speaking the truth in love” Ephesians 4:15)

K – Kindness

  • be willing to follow the Golden Rule … do for others what you would love for them to do for you
    (“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” Ephesians 4:22)

I – Irritation

  • be willing to learn how to control yourself when irritated
    (“love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” 1 Corinthians 13:5-6)

L – Living things

  • be willing to have healthy respect for living things, from peers to dogs to spiders (but not mosquitoes 😉
    (“And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good” Genesis 1:25)

L – Love

  • be willing to love and be loved
    (“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16)

S – Self Respect

  • be willing to offer respect to yourself … don’t call yourself names, or put yourself down
    (“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” Psalm 139:13)

It is all still pretty general (yet specific), and it may not what works for all, but I am really hoping it is working for the students I get to work with.

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