The Art of Strengths Coaching

K is for Kindness

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Where did you learn about kindness? Who have been the people who showed you kindness? How did they show kindness?

People sometimes go through the following phases in life. They aim to be smart, then to be wise, then to be kind. Why? As the saying goes, the greatest wisdom is kindness.

Life depends on kindness. Piero Ferrucci highlights this theme in his book The Power of Kindness. After a preface written by the Dalai Lama, Piero outlines the benefits of kindness, both for the giver and the receiver. He explains:

“However special it may sound it (kindness) is by no means exceptional. On the contrary, it comprises a great deal of human interactions.

“The fabric of our lives is made of care, solidarity, mutual service. These qualities are so embedded in our daily events that we may not even notice them.”

Piero believes that kindness may be the main way to help both present and future generations. Looking at our relationship with the planet, he says:

The Power of Kindness

“Kindness is urgent in our relationship with our living environment. If we do not respect and love nature, do not treat her with loving kindness and the awe she deserves, we will end up intoxicated by our own poisons.

“It is up to us. It is a choice in the life of each of us – to take the way of selfishness and abuse, or the way of solidarity and kindness.

“In this exciting but dangerous moment of human history, kindness is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

“Being kind is taking a stand. By itself it may not help: Maybe our kindness will be ineffective.

“Never mind. We have affirmed a principle, a way of being.”

You can learn more about Piero’s work via the following link.

http://www.pieroferrucci.it/index_eng.html

Kindness and cruelty create their own circles. People who are given kindness early in life are more likely to pass on kindness to others. People who experience cruelty are more likely to pass on cruelty to others.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to look back on your life and do the following things.

Describe a person you have known who showed kindness – write their name.

Describe the specific things they did to show kindness.

Describe the specific outcomes that resulted from them showing kindness.

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The Dalai Lama says: “My religion is kindness.” This is a theme echoed in many spiritual faiths. Kindness is also a quality that is admired in many cultures.

People sometimes come to a stage in their lives where they take stock and ask themselves certain questions. These questions include:

Have I lived a good life? Have I helped other people? Have I been kind? How can I do more of these things in the future? How can I help to build a better world for future generations?

Piero Ferrucci quotes Aldous Huxley, the writer who experimented with many methods of developing human potential. These included drugs, meditation, bodywork, Zen and other things. Towards the end of his life, Huxley said in a lecture:

“People often ask me what is the most effective technique for transforming their life.

“It is a little embarrassing that after years and years of research and experimentation, I have to say that the best answer is – just be a little bit kinder.”

Here are some views on kindness from The Fast Company and Sesame Street.

https://www.fastcocreate.com/3067192/exclusive-video/sesame-street-took-over-our-office-to-remind-everyone-that-k-is-for-kindness

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People respond to each other’s spirit. They respond to whether others generate love, caring or other qualities. Sometimes when meeting a person – or seeing a public figure from afar – they consciously or unconsciously ask the question: “Is this person kind?”

Kindness comes in many forms. People often get pleasure, for example, from feeding others or helping them to grow. Kindness provides strength to both the giver and the receiver.

Erik Erikson, the psychologist, described the importance of being kind when explaining what he called The Generative Age. He described this as:

“A concern for establishing and guiding the next generation.”

Sometimes this is expressed through parenthood. But it can also take many other forms, such as doing fine work or leaving a positive legacy.

Erikson’s view was that, up until this age, we often define ourselves in relation to other people. For example, our parents, siblings, friends, teachers, peers and authority figures. But The Generative Age brings a new awareness.

He said that we may then define ourselves in relation to humanity. He explained:

“Adults need to create or nurture things that will outlast them, often by having children or creating a positive change that benefits other people.

“Success leads to feelings of usefulness and accomplishment, while failure results in shallow involvement in the world.

“Older adults need to look back on life and feel a sense of fulfilment. Success at this stage leads to feelings of wisdom, while failure results in regret, bitterness, and despair.”

If you wish, try tackling the following exercise on the theme of kindness. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to show kindness in the future.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things to show kindness.

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