“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia

It’s certainly not a new concept. And yet now that we’re living in challenging times, we’re learning what it means to wake up each day to even more change, difference, rupture, division, and the unknown, kindness might have become even more important.

If we spend a lot of time on social media or watching and reading the global news, our mental health may start to feel like it’s becoming impacted. And that’s when we might begin closing ourselves off to kindness. Either the giving of it – or the receiving.

Perhaps important to mention that care-taking and kindness are two different things altogether. Some of us may have grown up in society’s in which care-taking was admired, respected, expected even. Give your all to other at the expense of yourself! Yet, compulsive “helping” can also be seen as a need to be needed, as codependency rather than interdependency. Establishing boundaries might be important if you can identify with this. If you’re finding yourself taking care of others (adults) even when it “just doesn’t feel right”, it might be the time to turn the tables and focus on your own self-care.

Kindness on the other hand is likely to be more spontaneous than habitual. We might simply send a message or a card to someone, spread some natural beauty across social media, lend someone a hand, support a stranger or a loved one in a time of need, buy someone’s else’s coffee by paying it forward, deeply listen to or smile at someone who looks like they’re having a tough day. Or simply offer ourselves something kind.

Our planet needs kindness right now. The earth, the environment, it’s animals and not least its people.

And yet, kindness towards others can start with kindness towards oneself first and foremost. How kind are you being when you’re just hanging out with you? Do you beat yourself up for not having achieved x, y or z? Do you chastise yourself for having “failed” at something? Do you find yourself speaking disrespectfully to yourself in the privacy of your own mind? Do you think about all the things that you “should” be doing, when all you want to do is nothing?

My invitation is to spend some time writing down a few things that you love to do but that you haven’t for some time. Might you plan to spend some time alone if you’re constantly surrounded by others – or the reverse if you spend a lot of time alone? Maybe plan a break from work? How will you know when you are being kind to yourself?

Kindness. It starts with kindness to ourselves. From the inside out.