Small Acts of Kindness

  |  Published: Mar 5th 2016

by Elizabeth Beston

 

A big part of spiritual living for me is kindness, or taking loving action. Most spiritual paths encourage being kind, and kindness is an essential building block of our local and world communities, regardless as to whether you have faith or no faith. Most people are loving people, but there’s always room for more kindness in the Universe. When we take loving action, we are increasing the far-reaching arm of loving energy - benefiting us, others and the world!

When I talk about loving action, I usually refer to my three main ones: kindness, forgiveness and gratitude (I’ll come back to gratitude in a bit). And I’m not just talking about being kind and forgiving to other people! It is just as important to have self-kindness and self-forgiveness. Many of us may have grown up believing that self-care and self-love is ‘indulgent’ or ‘selfish’. This could not be further from the truth. When we take care of ourselves, when we fill our hearts with self-love, that love spills out into the world around us. When we forgive ourselves, when we are kind to ourselves, it becomes easier to be forgiving and kind to others. And of course our natural world needs kindness too, so we can always have trees, species diversity and continued resources for example.

Our gestures of kindness do not always need to be big and dramatic. Even the smallest of loving actions can make such a difference. Choosing to recycle your batteries instead of throwing them away is a loving action. Turning the tap off when you brush your teeth is a loving action. Smiling at someone as you pass in the street is a loving action. Giving someone your full attention in a conversation is a loving action. Getting a good night’s sleep is a loving action.  You get the picture.

We can start off small with gratitude as well. It would be quite hard to feel grateful at all times - we are only human after all (remember self-forgiveness?). Right now, as you’re reading this, pause for a second and think of three things you’re thankful for. Just little things. You can read this article for example - I’m grateful for my eyesight! Did you have something to eat today? - I’m grateful for the abundance of food! Are you sitting down? - I’m grateful for the person who made this chair so I could rest a while! If you like, find more things to be grateful for. Gratitude immediately raises our spirits and can make us feel more positive. You might want to try writing a gratitude list every day, helping you to see the abundance of goodness in your life. It’s lovely to fall asleep thinking of all the wonderful things the day has brought, rather than focusing on what we didn’t get or achieve. 

It’s easy to feel weighed down by what seems like such negative things going on in the world. We may not be able to help directly (apart from donating money to charities where appropriate), but we can help ourselves and our communities feel more love by taking just little steps towards more loving action.

So go and make someone a cup of tea; forgive that driver who cut you up; look up and be thankful for the sky; have a long and relaxing bath; hug your children for an extra second; smile at the next person you see, and know that when you take loving action, your inner-light cannot help but shine brighter.

Elizabeth Beston runs curiousatom.com, dedicated to providing feel-good ideas for spiritual nourishment. She is also running a spiritual nourishment workshop in Weston Turville on 9 April 2016. Details on her website.

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