My Thoughts on Kindness
What kindness means to me, a nursing and spiritual perspective
Have you ever been in a situation where someone needs help and three responses could have happened:
a) No one goes to help
b) There is hesitancy or it takes someone else to go before you decide to help
c) You decide helping the person is a good idea without hesitancy or question.
I have been in all three of these situations.
Kindness for me has been a journey the more I become self aware. I need to be aware of where I am not helping to fully realize what things I could improve on to be kinder.
Is there a difference between helping someone and being kind? I don't see a difference so I am going to use them interchangeably.
I believe people who demonstrate kindness on a regular basis are the ones who are in control of their own minds.
What does this mean? It means people who are not acting based on people pleasing, seeking approval, gaining something or behaving in an inauthentic way when an insecurity shows up.
Authentic kindness that comes from the heart gives you a feeling of full satisfaction. When you are in the flow and help someone, your walk on cloud 9 continues into the distance.
Have you ever been part of or witnessed authentic kindness? It is visible to everyone around them. It makes people smile, warms their heart and perceptions begin to change.
Albert Einstein once said
"A life lived for others is the only life worth living."
That is basically kindness in a nutshell.
My journey with kindness was not easy but a few turning points helped me in the right direction.
One turning point was becoming a nurse which was one of the greatest decisions I have made.
Kindness was available to use and foster everyday working as a nurse. Being kind to patients was easy, being kind to colleagues was a challenge and being kind to myself was the hardest.
The biggest teachers for me were the colleagues I worked with and the behaviors that played out which would cause me to be dissatisfied with the job and having to move on. I tended to get sucked into mental whirlwinds of negativity regarding how things should be organizationally or judging my colleagues for not rising to my standards. Looking back it was not at them at fault, but my incapacity to foster kindness at the time and see a broader perspective.
Currently in the hospital I am working at I have practiced a different kind of kindness that has helped me monumentally to the point where I look forward to going to work, seeing my colleagues and wondering what sort of day I will have.
For the last 10 years I have also been on a spiritual path which has opened up my eyes to ideas, emotions and mind in a way where I feel secure within myself to be writing about it.
The concepts of spirituality and kindness may not be that different from each other.
Byron Katie, a spiritual teacher, once said in an interview:
"Spirituality is kindness"
I have pondered about this many times. If I walk the spiritual path and kindness is lacking then there is clearly something missing. The path I chose to take was learning more about unconditional love which is asking to like reality as it is without trying to change anything.
When I go to work, some practices I have tried to exercise over the past year is:
1) Listening to people's stories even though something inside me may not like what I am hearing. When there is something that is troubling me or doesn't quite add up, then I ask them questions, rather than leave the conversation and hold onto a judgement about the person.
2) I try my best to not talk about anyone negatively. This is quite hard to do in a hospital setting as people do like to be in each other's business, especially in the lunch room. So I make an effort to exercise some control to be kind and not participate in these conversations.
3) I try to use people's names when I greet them to tell them, I see you and acknowledge you.
4) Part of my role is to go around different departments if they need a nurse. People often ask me what is my favorite department to work in. I tell them I don't have favorites with departments or people. Everyone is the same and I hope me seeing them as equals makes an impact in how I am with them.
5) I try to help out wherever I see a need for help. It not only gives me a satisfied feeling at the end of the day. You also never know how kindness really impacts on someone.
Practicing kindness and creating an environment where I feel like I am being kind to others is very satisfying. I actually really enjoy being in my own company even if others aren't being kind at that time. If I foster kindness to others and myself, it is like I am always on cloud 9 in spite of what is going around me. Kindness is addictive once the practice is sound and consistent. Even though the beginning stages are hard, the effort is totally worth it as the mind gets to be re-trained into thinking kinder and loving thoughts about yourself and the world.