Chapter 6, Kind thoughts, words and acts. Practice 7: Kindness traits in action
Look at the kindness traits below. Make a note of each one (*please use free downloadable pdf worksheets to accompany this Practice if you prefer) and beside each one write down any events, however small, where you feel you have made progress in embedding these traits of kindness more deeply in yourself. It may be helpful to have two columns as outlined below with some examples:
Goodwill: I noticed when I was judging a friend unfairly and replaced this with a positive thought.
Benevolence: I joined in a prayer for wisdom for world leaders as they met to discuss a way forward for war-torn Syria.
Charity: When entering a competition, I affirmed to myself that I would give some of the winnings to charity.
Compassion: I watched a tv programme and felt compassion for one of the celebrities who seemed lonely.
Generosity: Upon receiving four small gifts from my sister, I spontaneously offered one each of the gifts to my other sisters.
Humanity: I felt sympathy for people in the world who still have to walk miles to collect water each day. I will no longer waste water.
Kindliness: I played Hunt the Food with the dogs instead of ignoring them to watch tv.
Philanthropy: I bought one of a friend’s paintings to encourage her in her art.
Understanding: I put myself in my husband’s shoes after I had cajoled him about something he hadn’t done and realised that it doesn’t feel good to be the recipient of this.
Other examples of how you have shown kindness traits in action could be: perhaps you have thought more charitably of refugees fleeing for their lives; perhaps you became aware that you were about to say something negative about yourself or others and you stopped yourself and instead remained silent; perhaps you hugged a friend who needed emotional support and so on. Note down the ones which you have experienced. Read this list often, and add to it, and you will be amazed at what kindness your heart is capable of.
“If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him….if a man speaks
or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.”
– The Twin Verses, Buddha.
Thoughts create our reality: acts of kindness result from kind words which themselves originate in kind thoughts. The Law of Attraction has fascinated many scholars throughout history from the Buddha to Albert Einstein to Christian Larson (The Optimist’s Creed) and more recently Rhonda Byrne (The Secret, The Magic) to name a few. It proposes that our thoughts create our reality and what we think, say and do will be the reality that we attract back to ourselves at some point. For example, if we think and say that life is unfair, that bad things always happen to us, that we are never lucky and so on these negative thoughts of lack are the reality that we create for ourselves and therefore we will always think of ourselves as a victim in life because it doesn’t go the way we want it to. These thoughts lead us to negative emotional patterns where our lack of success – as we see it – may result in us experiencing bitterness and discontent.
With the support of a Cognitive Behavioural (or Holistic) therapist, we can learn that it is beneficial to think of compassionate alternatives to challenge anxiety and negative thoughts. This gradually leads to much improved mood and motivation. We are retraining ourselves to think more positively and attract a better reality for ourselves. Instead of adopting the victim mentality of: “I will fail, I’m not going to try”, we would say for example: “What is the worst that can happen?” or “It might be fun!” So, be kind. Notice when you are being negative about yourself, acknowledge it when it happens and immediately change the thoughts or words to something positive. Keep practising this and it will eventually become a new automatic mode of behaviour.
I hope you have enjoyed this section of my book, the content of which came from my personal experiences working towards finding new purpose in life through kindness. Om Shanti! Anita.