health · self care

World Kindness Day: Make Kindness the Norm

It’s World Kindness Day and I thought it would be a good idea to post some resources to help you explore this year’s theme ‘Make Kindness the Norm.’

a promotional image for World Kindness Day that reads 'Kind People Are My Kind Of People' in the center and 'World Kindness Day 2021' in the bottom right.
Image description: Multi-coloured text in the center of the image (against a white background) reads ‘Kind People Are My Kind Of People.’ In the bottom right corner is black text that reads ‘World Kindness Day’ and orange text that reads ‘2021’ with the url inspirekindness.com in black and orange beneath. The black letters in ‘World Kindness Day’ look as if they were cut from an image of the sun rising behind planet Earth. Image source

Encouraging people to be kind to themselves is one of my favourite things to do. I have a whole series of Go Team! posts here on the blog and I wrote a post about self-kindness this time last year.

I also love encouraging people to be kind to others but I tend to do that more in person (and I hope by leading by example) than I do in writing. However, given this year’s theme, I thought I would try to write a bit more about being kind to others.

With the way things are structured these days, it often feels like we are rewarded for snarkiness or snap judgements. There is a sense that we are in constant competition and that it is everyone for themselves.

It takes some effort to look beneath that dominant narrative and see the everyday kindness and the big-picture-positive projects that are happening all around us. It’s worth the work to find them though and once you start noticing them, you will begin to see them more and more often.

Obviously there are a lot of bad things going on in the world and a lot of things that need to change. I would never suggest that you ignore those issues but while we are working on them, we can also work on creating more kindness in the world.

Please don’t get caught up in the idea that kindnesses that you can perform and participate have to be grand gestures and huge tasks. Small acts of kindness can make a huge difference in one person’s life and making a small contribution to a bigger project can have a wide-ranging effect.

Kindness at any scale is incredibly powerful.

Image description: a sepia photo of a country road extending into the distance with trees and bushes on both sides. White text in the center reads ‘Do small things, with great love.’ and a small read triangle beneath the text attributes the quote to Mother Teresa. image source.
An image of a tweet from the UN (@UN) that reads: During times of difficulty, love and solidarity can help us stay strong. Saturday’s #WorldKindnessDay is an opportunity to demonstrate how small acts of kindness can create a better world for us all. The tweet includes an image from artist Margaret To which shows multicoloured dots arranged in rows with a yellow heart as the centre dot. The text in the image reads ‘Your kindness is contagious’

I’m not at all suggesting that you flip a switch and turn into a selfless person who operates only from kindness. Instead, I’m inviting you to make a difference for everyone involved by choosing the kindest option whenever it presents itself.

I think it would be good for the health, wellness, and brain space of everyone involved.

Note: a quick google search will produce tons of articles showing how being kind to others benefits us, I like the idea of letting go of that expectation and being kind for its own sake. I’m not suggesting that you dismiss the good feelings that may arise from kindness, those are terrific, but I think that having those feelings as our goal can lead to disappointment.

If you want some specific suggestions for kind actions, here’s a great list from the Random Acts of Kindness website:

An image from Random Acts of Kindness that has a list of kindness ideas featured on a white rectangle against a background of a flower with multicoloured petals. The text on the image reads '7 ways to start making kindness the norm in your daily life 1. send an uplifting text to a friend or family member. 2. Let that guy merge into traffic with a wave and a smile. 3. Include intentional moments of kindness, laughter and delight in your daily routine. 4. Go slightly outside of your comfort zone at least once a day to make someone smile. 5. Share a complement with a coworker or friend. 6. Reach out to a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while. 7. Treat someone to a cup of coffee a friend, a stranger, or even yourself.  Larger text under the white rectangle reads: Make kindness the norm. #WorldKindnessDay #BigKindnessTheNorm www.RandomActsofkindness.org
An image from Random Acts of Kindness that has a list of kindness ideas featured on a white rectangle against a background of a flower with multicoloured petals. The text on the image reads ‘7 ways to start making kindness the norm in your daily life 1. send an uplifting text to a friend or family member. 2. Let that guy merge into traffic with a wave and a smile. 3. Include intentional moments of kindness, laughter and delight in your daily routine. 4. Go slightly outside of your comfort zone at least once a day to make someone smile. 5. Share a complement with a coworker or friend. 6. Reach out to a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while. 7. Treat someone to a cup of coffee a friend, a stranger, or even yourself.  Larger text under the white rectangle reads: Make kindness the norm. #WorldKindnessDay #MakeKindnessTheNorm www.RandomActsofkindness.org
 

I also found these great resources for you to explore:

Unconditional positive regard is an ongoing kindness that can strengthen our relationships.

Download a Kindness Calendar

Some Ways to be Kind to Yourself

How to be More Kind

More Kindness Resources at Random Acts of Kindness and at Inspire Kindness

A small kindness challenge from Greater Good Science Center.

This embedded video from the MyLife YouTube channel is entitled ‘Kindness Meditation (Strengthen Happiness)’
This embedded YouTube video is from the Greater Good Science Center and is entitled ‘Being Kinder to Yourself’
self care

It’s World Kindness Day and Christine H is HERE for it.

November 13th is World Kindness Day and I jumped at the chance to post about it. 

I think our world could use a lot more kindness

We could be kinder to ourselves, to each other, to our communities and to the environment. 

However, while the readers of this blog might enjoy some ideas for specific ways to be kind to others, I suspect that many of us need the reminder to be kind to ourselves.

Image has multicoloured text that reads 'The world is full of kind people. If you can't find one, be one. World Kindness Day 2020. The 'O' in world is replaced with an image of a planet Earth surrounded  by a circle of gold hearts.
I contend that starting with self-kindness equips you to be a kinder person overall.
That’s not the only reason to be kind to yourself but it might be extra encouragement to try it.
Image from https://inspirekindness.com/world-kindness-day

In my coaching practice, I spend a lot of time talking to people about how to be kinder to themselves. When they object (and they often do), thinking that to be kinder to themselves is being selfish or letting themselves ‘off the hook’, I like to borrow this quote to make my point.

“It is moral to treat people with decency, respect, compassion and kindness, Well, “people” includes you! You have as many rights, and your opinions and needs and dreams have as much standing, as those of anyone else in the world.”

from Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. Rick Hanson, PhD.

I’m not a philosopher so I’m not equipped to take on a debate about whether Hanson is right about the morality. I am, however, an advocate for kindness in all forms and that quote resonates with me. 

It is good, and it is good for you, to be kind, especially when you are being kind to yourself. 

This isn’t about ‘letting yourself off the hook,’ it’s about being compassionate about your circumstances, your capacity, and your needs. 

It isn’t about being selfish. It is not selfish to recognize that you need and deserve care just as much as anyone else. 

So, what does this have to do with Feminist fitness?

Everything.

Being kind to yourself includes taking good care of your mind and your body, in whatever way makes the most sense to you.

For some people, that means taking a long run.

For others, it’s spending time on the yoga mat.

For you, today, being kind to yourself might mean meditation or journaling, it might mean rest or creative relaxation, or it might mean pushing yourself to work out (or work harder) even though you don’t particularly feel like it.

Being kind to yourself (and to others, in fact) is not about finding an easy way out. It’s about being compassionate and it’s about serving a need. 

So, on World Kindness Day, I invite you to consider what you really need from yourself today and do what you can to meet that need.

I understand that your time may not be your own. You may not have the ideal resources at your disposal. But, I hope that you can find at least one small way to meet your own needs today.

PS – Self-kindness is especially important if you are currently coping with Covid-related restrictions or isolations. Be very compassionate with yourself, do what you can to help yourself through this with as much ease as possible.

Against an orange background, the words 'Be The Change' are written in white above an image of Earth surrounded by gold hearts. The words 'World Kindness Day 2020; are in the bottom right corner and the O in the word world has been replaced by an image of Earth surrounded by gold hearts.
You can start by changing how you treat yourself and work outwards from there. image from: https://inspirekindness.com/world-kindness-day

I’ve got lots of back-up on the benefits of self-kindness, by the way:

Using the Practice of Self-Kindness to Cope With Stress

12 Surprisingly Powerful Health Benefits of Being Nicer to Yourself

21 Simple Reasons to Be Kind to Yourself

Being kind to yourself has mental and physical benefits

The Five Myths of Self-Compassion

A complementary approach: Being Kind to Others Is Being Kind to Yourself

More from that angle: Just One Thing: Be Kind to Yourself by Being Kind to Others

habits · motivation · training

Is Grit Good or Bad?

It’s Monday. Even though I don’t work a Monday-to-Friday job, nor do I have children on a school schedule, Monday morning always feels like a moment to re-up my commitment to … well to pretty much everything, from work to sports. Monday is for grit. For courage and resolve. And I think of that as a good thing.

So when Samantha shared The Case Against Grit with us on Facebook the other day, I thought: What? Grit is in the doghouse now? Being a quitter is cool? Great. I don’t have to persevere anymore. So much more relaxing. I’ll just stay in bed on Mondays.

Turns out, the article was not actually anti-grit, but pro-quit. No surprise, the piece argued that laser focus on one pursuit to the exclusion of all others and against all odds may not be the best decision. 

I agree. Sticking to something just because we’ve invested a lot of resources in it already is not a good reason. I quit being a lawyer after investing years of my life in school and practice. Nothing I do now even remotely requires a law degree. On my worst days, I’ll wonder why I wasted so much time. Most days though, I don’t regret those years. I recognize them as building blocks in the life I’ve constructed. I credit law school with teaching me how to be organized and complete projects, how to think structurally.  

The problem with the never-quit motivational-speak is that it forgets about discernment. We have to choose wisely what to get gritty about. We have to try different things, to know what to stick with. If we don’t delete, then we will never have the resources (time/space/money) to invest in trying new things. 

We have to check in with ourselves regularly about why we stick with a pursuit:  

·     Why am I doing this activity? 

·     What am I trying to prove and to whom? 

·     Why do I want to quit? 

·     Does this pursuit align with my values?

·     How will I feel if I quit? 

·     Where would I rather spend my grit?

With law, I was trying to prove I was smart and capable, to myself and others. But the whole endeavor was a performance of those qualities, not rooted in any fundamental desire to be a lawyer. I also wanted to be useful in the world. I wanted my life to have some of that elusive meaning, so many of us look for. Eventually, I realized that I could find meaning elsewhere and be more fulfilled. Quitting law wasn’t proof in a case against grit (nor did it prove I was a quitter). 

The topic is tangled. Samantha wrote about grit and her Aikido practice: Thinking about quitting: Life lessons from Kenny Rogers and Aristotle.  As Kenny sings, we need to know when to fold ‘em. And Tracy shared thoughts on grit, too: “Why am I doing this?” On wanting to quit but not quitting. Both posts are about the organic, ongoing need to assess the balance between sticking with something and strategic quitting. 

I also wrote about grit in my new book. Quick background, Run Like A Girl 365 Days A Year is structured as a book of days. After all, that’s how we live; cyclically, seasonally, in loops that come back around again. I’m injured. I’m recovered. I’m happy. I’m sad. I’m peaking. I’m flatlining. All of which takes grit to get through. 

May 12-15 in the book look at grit from various angles. Here’s May 13:  

. . . what’s right for you

Just because everybody is doing high-intensity interval training, or boxing, or long slow distance, doesn’t mean it’s right for you. The only way you can figure out what sports your body loves and responds to is to try them on. See how an athletic pursuit fits. And quit when it’s not right for you. 

I pursued aerial arts for about a year. I learned how to climb a silk, wind myself up in the strong, stretchy fabric that hangs from high rafters, then flip and spin my way out. One day, just as I was starting to feel comfortable in the practice, I almost ripped my arm off grabbing at the silk in a moment of fear. Once my shoulder healed, I started back at the practice, but my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I kept forcing myself to go, because I thought, Well I’ve already invested a year on a steep learning curve. I can’t quit now. Yet I’d known, even before the injury, that I would never make the time to become as good as I’d like. I would have had to give up other sports I loved (such as running), not to mention that after the shoulder incident I better understood that I risked an injury, which could sideline my true passions. 

Still, I’m glad I tried. The experience of learning something radically different from anything I had ever done before was mind-bending. 

But I’m glad I quit. Soon after I was introduced to aerial yoga, which fulfilled my craving to fly. 

In addition to law and aerial arts, I have quit: triathlons, road marathons, downhill skiing, rock climbing. The list could go on. Sports are easier for me to quit. What I value is movement and diversity in how I engage my body, so there’s no one sport that demands I stick with it. 

I have also stuck with a lot of things, the things that matter most to me in my life. I’ve stuck with building a life around writing. I keep waiting for it to get easier, but nope, takes a lot of grit, pretty much every day. And I’ve stuck with moving my body a whole lot. The sports change, the commitment to getting out on the road or into a studio stays the same. 

Hand holding a pink sign with white lettering that says, “Practice Kindness”
from Unplash, by Sandrachile

We have to balance our grit with the grace of knowing when enough is enough.Tracy thought about quitting because of a mean and discouraging voice in her head. She didn’t listen to that voice in the end. The voice that should guide us in our decisions is the one of kindness. Kindness isn’t going to let us get away with being half-assed. That’s not kind. Kindness wants to hold us to our own highest standard. 

Grit is for the pursuits that nourish us! 

What’s gritty and what’s the voice of kindness suggesting you quit these days?