When I was setting up The Engaging People Company, it was really important to me that ‘kindness’ became one of the core values. I wanted ‘being kind’ to underpin all that I did through my work, and in how I worked.
Because for me, kindness is absolutely integral to wellbeing and happiness, both in how we treat others – and ourselves.
When we are being kind to others, we are truly listening to them, giving them our full attention. We are giving them space to share their thoughts and ideas. We are appreciating them, and giving positive reinforcement through our words and actions – such as a smile which can convey good wishes so powerfully. We are non-judgemental. We are helping others to find solutions, without disempowering them through our words. We are looking for actions to do good, to empower happiness. We are thinking about the outcomes of our behaviours, and the impact that we have on others, and wanting this always to be positive. And we are recognising that real value comes in not what we do but in how we make people feel. There are few better feelings than knowing that one has made a difference to someone simply by being kind.
But to be kind to others, we also need to be kind to ourselves. Far too often we keep pushing ourselves against our limits, until the point when we nearly break. We set ourselves such high expectations, and then feel disappointed when we don’t achieve all that we aimed to. We often focus on the negative and don’t stop to celebrate the good, to recognise the small things we do each day that make an impact. Too often we wait for a big splash, a triumph that is worthy of our recognition. And many times our own wellbeing takes a back seat, as we prioritise task and responsibility above all else.
We can be kind to ourselves by stopping, by listening to our own needs, by taking time for the things that we want to do – not just need to do; by valuing ourselves, by demonstrably knowing that we matter. By giving ourselves recognition. By giving ourselves space – and time, especially. And when we do these things, not only are we role modelling kindness to those around us, but we are also better equipped to be kind to others.
I have gratefully noticed the many kindnesses which others have shown towards me, not least since I set up my business. There have been so many encouraging words, suggestions, ideas, thoughts, and conversations which have empowered me. And which, in turn, have reminded me of my own responsibility to always act with kindness.
And today, on World Kindness Day, there is never a more timely reminder of the importance of kindness and how it can make a difference to ourselves, others – and perhaps even the world.