While the world seems to spiral further into hatred and destruction, kindness comes to mind.
We can hold space for more kindness on the planet by doing something in our own little world. It can be small and seemingly insignificant, but may have wide-ranging effects that we will never be aware of. Why not practice kindness, and trust that more kindness will make its way out into the collective?
The result can be rewarding – and surprising! – when we request: “Universe, bring me someone I can help today”. Sit back and watch what happens, it might not be what you think. It’s an instant mood-lifter when you get the chance to interact with a stranger in unexpected ways, and it creates more awareness of your environment, it helps you be more present. My dad was a sentimental, hilarious character who specialized in making connections with people everywhere he went. Every outing was an adventure and he was always on the lookout for a chance to connect with strangers. He held doors and entertained babies, pulled things off the top shelf for others and picked things up off the floor, always with ease. Invariably, each visit to the hardware store or the grocery ended with laughter.
My husband brought home a pretty, medium-sized pumpkin from his work on Halloween. He left it on the front porch and one day we saw a squirrel going to town eating it. It was completely gone in just a couple of days. So on Thanksgiving day he bought a pie pumpkin at Whole Foods to leave in the yard. Maybe all it does is distract the squirrel from eating at the bird feeder for a day or two, but more so, we’ve loved the thought of the squirrel enjoying a treat during the holidays.
A friend likes to tip service people lavishly. Recently we had a new couch delivered, the first couch that wasn’t a hand-me-down in 30 years. So exciting! I gave the delivery people a nice tip and suggested they go out to lunch. They high-fived each other on their way out the door and weeks later, the image is still with me.
My neighbors like to bake and when they first moved in, they started the tradition of bringing a big plate of cookies and bread to every house at Christmastime. Another neighbor took up a collection when our next-door neighbor died and left behind a grown son with some health issues. We all went to his mom’s celebration of life and he and his brother were clearly surprised and pleased to see us.
Not to light you all up, again, but spider alert! I follow a person on Facebook who loves spiders. I learned to love spiders from my dearly departed mom, and I will forever be grateful for the lesson. Anyway, the Facebook page is called Look at the Spiders, which has its own particular charm, and this person posts pictures of various characters they come across in the course of their day. Here’s a photo of a wolf spider accepting a drink from the end of a Q-tip, there’s a sac spider hanging from the ceiling at work, where the person guarded it until it could retreat to safety. And here’s a third shot of a lovely, translucent white spider lounging at the center of a daisy, an arachnid supermodel. I love that this person admires, supports and spreads their appreciation for these critical players of the insect world and the food chain!
Our friend Travis rescued a couple of train cars here in Boulder County that he found to be historically significant, that were in threat of being demolished. He worked for several years to procure and protect them until he could move them to their new home in Louisville, where they will be fully restored to their original glory for the enjoyment of the community. When he started out he expected long hours of solo labor cleaning them up, digging them out and getting the cars ready to move from their former home. But as word of his endeavors got out, people showed up to help, unsolicited. One family showed up to the site having walked some distance, carrying shovels on their shoulders. A local family with a large property readily agreed to store the cars on their land until they made their way to their final home. As his project went forward, more and more people appeared, figuratively and literally, to do the physical labor and to donate to the cause. Every time we see him he’s working on his passion project and he lights up with delight when people him ask how it’s going.
When our friend Mandy comes over for dinner, she always brings a gift: a beautiful paper flower, a painting by her child, a plant. When my mom died Mandy appeared with a box of cinnamon rolls and a card, then she’d call periodically to see how I was doing. Mandy’s caring but very matter-of-fact; she doesn’t make a big thing about it but she always makes others feel noticed.
There’s no end of opportunities to be kind, to help, to connect. When we connect purely for the sake of connecting, we leave judgement behind, we are more neutral.
The Mayo Clinic has a program that they promote for their patients, called Kickstart Kindness. From the Mayo website:
Kindness has been shown to increase self-esteem, empathy and compassion, and improve mood. It can decrease blood pressure and cortisol, a hormone directly correlated with stress levels. People who give of themselves in a balanced way also tend to be healthier and live longer.
Kindness can increase your sense of connectivity with others, decrease loneliness, combat low mood and improve relationships. It also can be contagious, encouraging others to join in with their own generous deeds.
Looking for ways to show kindness can give you something to focus on, especially if you are anxious or stressed in certain social situations.
Physiologically, kindness can positively change your brain by boosting levels of serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters produce feelings of satisfaction and well-being, and cause the pleasure and reward centers in your brain to light up. Endorphins, your body’s natural painkiller, also may be released when you show kindness.
Ideally, kindness toward others will naturally filter down to the Self, and vice versa. Most of us in this community are healers; we are fantastic at giving love but not so good at doing nice things for ourselves. A clairvoyant student who regularly donates her time and resources to children’s causes, recently reported that she was experiencing a long-standing, recurring personal issue where she routinely goes into self-judgement, shame and even condemnation.
Instead, this time she talked to herself as if she were a loved one: “Oh, hey, I’m sorry to hear that’s happening to you, how can I help?” then listening for the answer. We had just finished Shame and Vulnerability class, always a crowd-pleaser with the opportunity to move a lot of energy. She said her problem, which had felt intractable, shifted for the first time into something new. The problem seemed easier to handle and she felt better about herself. She felt a sense of support. She told me, “Being nice to myself is so much softer! The kindness takes up the space where my inner critic usually hangs out.”
Also from Kickstart Kindness:
Start your day with this question: “How am I going to practice kindness today?” For a homework assignment, I have invited some patients to pay attention and periodically document their evidence of kindness to others and especially to themselves during the day. This positive focus is like planting positive seeds in your mind garden. Where focus goes, energy flows.
“Where focus goes, energy flows”! It’s what we do at Psychic Horizons, we help people re-orient their focus and shift their energy to improve their lives. If you’d like to know more about our classes and other offerings, please visit us at www.psychichorizonscenter.org, or give us a call at 303-440-7171. We look forward to hearing from you!
Rt. Rev. Katie Heldman is the Co-Director of Psychic Horizons Center, and wrote this article for the December 18th, 2023 eNews.