Today is World Kindness Day. We’ve been exploring Kindness as one of our core values over the course of the year and we’ve learnt that it has multi-faceted meaning. Often, we think of kindness as random acts that we pay forward to others but it’s also important to practice it for ourselves.
As we head towards the end of the year, you may be finding the calendar is filling up fast: Christmas festivities, holiday bookings, gifts to purchase, meetings to squeeze in, appointments to finalise, family gatherings to coordinate. Most of it might be fun, but it can also be exhausting and for some it may even feel a little overwhelming – especially after a year of returning to a form of pre-pandemic normalcy. But we’re also navigating the reality of how much the world has changed as a result.
In this season, slowing things down and taking time for the things that truly matter makes us more attuned to what’s happening around us and to the needs of others and in turn has the benefit of enhancing our own self-awareness.
So how do we practice kindness in the weeks ahead?
- Create margin within your calendar for rest. This could look like setting aside 30 minutes or an hour every morning or evening for reflection to set you up well for the rest of the day. Or taking a day to spend time doing something that re-energises you. Maybe it means being more deliberate about taking your lunchbreak.
- Pause and consider an invitation to events before saying ‘Yes’. What you choose to say ‘yes’ to will result in you having to say ‘no’ to other things. Setting personal boundaries during this Christmas holiday season will give you the confidence to manage your responses and allow you to create room for intentional rest and relaxation.
- Prioritise the connections that matter. There will always be more things to do than time in which to do it. Work out what and who matters most and prioritise that time.
- Being Clear is kind. Keep your expectations in check and be mindful of where you and others are at when planning activities. Make clear commitments and stick to them. Don’t be afraid to be honest. This might look like having asking some questions before forming assumptions – always assume that those around you are doing the best they can with what they have in front of them. You may surprised by how much ‘assuming the best of someone’ can change the atmosphere of every interaction you have.
- Don’t dismiss the small things. Kind acts do not need to be extravagant. A short but meaningful conversation with a colleague, a note of encouragement, a genuine ‘Thankyou’, a walk with a friend or a small basket of fruit on the doorstep of a neighbour can lift someone’s spirits for days and weeks afterwards.
The pace of life may be challenging at this time of year. It is completely normal to feel ready for a holiday. People may be feeling a deep tiredness and tempers may be a little frayed. Making a decision to be kind with one another, to have patience, to assume the best, slow things down and be kind to ourselves and others while keeping our expectations in check: This is kindness in action.