Craving Kindness

Craving Kindness

The pursuit of making the world a better place can lead us in various directions.



By Out Of Mind (Dr. Samineh I. Shaheem)

Published: Sun 26 Apr 2015, 3:14 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:41 PM

“Be the change that you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Before we demand to see change in the world, we should embody that change ourselves. Think about it for a second; when expecting good deeds, what if we first ensured that our own intentions and actions are in the right place? What is the change you’d like to see? Do you want people to be more kind, loving, honest and generous? Does this expectation reflect who you are or only who you want others to be?

The pursuit of making the world a better place can lead us in various directions. Some choose to devote their life to those less fortunate; others pursue a career in social service, others may donate a portion of their time, finances or energy and engage in random acts of kindness, still there are those who have never given this question a second thought, because they’re only consumed by permanent mistrust, fear and their own needs.

While many gestures can inspire positive change, it’s often the everyday faint acts of kindness that possess the power to permeate established emotional walls and penetrate the core of what makes us human. The omnipresent fragrance of kindness is such that it can be sensed long after the act has been performed, leaving a sweet aroma in the air and flooding our system with sense of sentimental intoxication. It’s that compassionate look, a loving smile, an empathetic touch, a small gift, an unselfish act, words of guidance, and even a quiet prayer that is encompassed in a kind gesture.

Interestingly, the craving for compassion seems to be universal. In a study about mate selection consisting of 37 different cultures from various parts of the world, 16,000 subjects were asked about the trait they desired most in their partner. Kindness was the first preference for both sexes, closely followed by intelligence.

But is it as common as it’s desired? In the sometimes uncompromising world we live in today, witnessing kindness surprises many of us because unfortunately, it’s not a usual virtue anymore. It’s almost as if we’ve ceased to search for it and worse yet, are starting to get used to living without it. What a sad dystopia the world would be without the demonstration or expectation of this form of benevolence.

Kindness takes real confidence and strength as well as unyielding self-assurance. However, if an individual is weak, dysfunctional and emotionally unstable, they’re more likely to perceive certain interactions as threatening and suspicious. This fear in turn manifests in the form of self-loathing and outward aggression directed towards others. Psychoanalysts Jacques Arènes believes nastiness is a form of self-protection. So a person who fears exposure will keep others at a distance by treating them badly. In other words, people are only unpleasant when they’re unhappy with themselves, and take out their fears and frustrations on those around them. Kind people, on the other hand, are not broken internally so they risk being open rather than turning bitter and focusing solely on their own concerns.

You can tell a lot about someone’s character simply by observing how kindly or not they treat those around them. It represents a real powerful feature of personality and should be taught to our children right from the early years of life.

What else does kindness represent?

>Compassion. Our ability to feel compassion for another soul in distress is what makes us evolved humans. A kind person sees the struggles of others, relates to it on a personal level, and takes the steps needed to help relieve them of their predicament.

>Consideration. Witnessing the struggle of another person and not being in a position to help, calls for consideration. There are many ways to try and make things easier for that individual by allowing them room to breathe, talking to them or by minimising their other pressure so that they can deal with a particular issue.

>Thoughtfulness. Being thoughtful of others is a sign of an emotionally stable person, as well as a sign of not being self-absorbed. A short message saying, ‘just thinking about you – let me know if there’s anything I can do to help’ can change someone’s life.

>Tolerance. Maintaining a broad mind about the actions and choices of those we share our lives with, either professionally or personally, can be a great opportunity to learn that differences are not deficiencies and to demonstrate empathy without feeling the need to shape people into who we think they should be rather than accepting who they actually are.

Through kindness, messages are conveyed that otherwise may get lost, misunderstood or altogether dejected. A caring yet stern approach towards an issue generates results far more quickly than any other strategy. We are social beings and our wellbeing depends on the positive interaction we have with one another. So embrace this new kind of bravery and don’t let cynicism and other social cancers kill our ability to kind.

 

Dr. Samineh I. Shaheem is the Learning & Development specialist and the owner of Life Clubs UAE. She has studied and worked in different parts of the world, including the USA, Canada, UK, Netherlands, and now the UAE. She co-hosts a radio program on 103.8 FM Dubai Eye (Psyched Sundays, Voices of Diversity 10-12pm) every Sunday morning discussing the most relevant psychological issues in our community. Twitter: @saminehshaheem/Facebook: Life Clubs UAE. Please forward your thoughts and suggestions for future articles to OutOfMindContact@gmail.com


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