The last few years I have been on a search for kindness…. and a good haircut! I am sure that you can relate. We go to that new salon, we sit in that chair, we explain what we want and then hope for the best. Well friends, what we’re looking for is some kindness, someone who will listen and give us their very best. Hair is important, it frames our face, it sets the mood for the day. You know what I mean; the term bad hair day has become part of our lingo. I have had some really bad hair cuts lately, misshapen, uneven and totally not what I asked for as I sat in that chair communicating what I needed, not just what I wanted. Let’s take the hair analogy and build a story of kindness in action.
I recently found the best stylist in the world. Yes, her technique is at a master level but what sets Christine apart is her ability to listen and then make it happen. Of course, that’s her job but I have walked away from many stylists that failed to do their job. Christine shows kindness in action and I leave the William Edge Salon with great hair, a smile on my face and a feeling of contentment deep in my soul. This encounter of kindness is something we should do for ourselves, loved ones and strangers.
So, over the next few blogs I am going to unpack kindness in action. Let’s start with kindness towards our self. I am reading more and more articles on line, in magazines and books devoted to what kindness does for the soul. Research is showing that compassion is much more than just feeling sad for someone, it is a trait, a skill, an action that brings about happiness. Thupten Jinpa, PhD, professor of religious studies and principal English translator to the Dalai Lama says, “The warm feeling that we get from our own compassion helps release oxytocin, which is associated with bonding with others and even reduced levels of inflammation in the cardiovascular system.”
Wow!!! Doing something kind for yourself or others really does good things for your heart! Research being conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has shown some significant findings with their control group. People who participated in the study by listening to ½ an hour of compassion/meditation training, daily for 2 weeks, were more generous with their time and money AND had greater activity going on in the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain that experiences rewards and pleasant feelings.
We live in a very stress filled world. Just think about the tragedies in El Paso and Ohio. Remember, in the next few blogs we shall unpack kindness towards others but for now let’s focus on acts of kindness and compassion for yourself. Thupten Jinpa points out that society, and the self-imposed judge in our head, trains us to view self-compassion as selfishness. And women have it the worst. We are expected to nurture and cater to everybody’s needs first and put ourselves last. Do you ever skip a yoga practice or a step class because somebody else needs your attention? Then there is the whole low self-esteem issue. Jinpa’s advice to combat low self-esteem is to recall a time when you were valued, when you were praised, or acknowledged for a job well done. This act of kindness, this recalling of your personal story is good for your brain. Remember that nucleus accumbens? This retelling of history rewires the brain and sets you on a new path, a new story and a new vantage point…. self-kindness in action.
How about doing something nice for yourself? I am not talking about filling your cart on Amazon or indulging in a decadent chocolate treat or a Netflix binge. How about a sabbatical? Consider going with me to Florida this Autumn. My dear friend Wendy Guess, PhD and author of Dancing Away Stress and Professor at FIU, have created a get-away to DeLand Florida, Oct. 30th to Nov. 3rd. Wendy and I have designed this sabbatical with women in mind. Knowing that we give and give, pouring out our heart and soul from our cup of joy. Then we still keep giving even when our cup is empty. What are we really giving then? How do we refill it? We recognize that your life is YOUR journey and you want to find resources and emotional support to help you manage that journey. We believe that we need this space and time to find and follow our own intentions for our life. We can’t wait to share with you. Click here to read more about the sabbatical and reserve one of the limited spots or email me at [email protected]. Journey to a simpler time as we gather in an early 1900’s home, complete with a wraparound porch that provides ample space to fill up your cup.
Kindness in Action. Start with yourself, refill your cup, refine the story, nurture the brain and the soul with self-love. Remember how I started the blog? What we’re looking for is some kindness, someone who will listen and give us their very best. Start with yourself, give YOU your very best, listen to your heart and your needs and after we have refilled our personal cup, then let’s talk about giving love away to others! How are you being kind to yourself? Leave a comment and let’s start a dialogue.
Grace and Peace,