Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~The Dalai Lama
Kindness is defined as “the quality of being friendly, generous and compassionate.” It’s a quality that I look for in almost every person I form any kind of relationship with – it matters that much to me. Kindness to cats, and all animals, is the most important to me, but kindness to other human beings is a close second. One of my pet peeves: people who are unkind to waiters or other service personnel.
Research suggests that positive emotions help contribute to better physical and emotional health. And kindness shouldn’t just extend to others, it should also be directed at yourself. While common wisdom may suggest that being kind to yourself is selfish and weak, the opposite is true. When you are kind to yourself, you are taking better care of yourself. And if you don’t take care of yourself, you have nothing left to give to others.
Here are some ways to be kind to yourself:
Take care of the basics
Eating whole and nutritious foods, drinking enough water, exercising, and getting enough sleep are all ways of being kind to yourself that will have a positive impact on everything else in your life.
Monitor your thought patterns
Albert Einstein once said that “the most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” If you constantly expect the worst to happen and focus on negative thoughts, you will get stuck in a pattern of negative actions and emotions. Reframe your thoughts and retrain your brain. Thinking it won’t make it so, but it will put you in a better frame of mind and motivate you to make positive changes.
Lower your expectations
This one is for the perfectionists out there, and I’m including myself in that category. I’m not saying that you should settle for less, but unrealistic expectations, especially when you’re dealing with emotionally charged or stressful situations, can make you feel completely out of control. Rather than expecting every day to be the best and happiest day of your life, lowering the bar just a little will allow you to enjoy each small moment.
Focus on solutions
If you’ve had a rough day, or you’re facing a challenging problem, try to focus on solutions rather than on rehashing the issue. Don’t beat yourself up over a mistake you may have made – this only erodes your self-esteem. Searching for solutions allows you to take your power back.
Give yourself the gift of time
Spend some time every day doing something that will uplift you. Whether it’s 10 minutes of meditation, a half hour walk in the park, or an hour of reading a book, will make a big difference in how you feel about your day. Of course, the easiest and quickest way to uplift you is to spend time with your cats!
Cats are naturally gifted at being kind to themselves. From finding the purrfect sun puddle to asking for affection when they want it, they know how to take care of their needs without apology. Perhaps we’d be wise to look to them for some guidance.
What one thing will you do today to be kind to yourself?