The wonderful and hilarious Ellen Degeneres always finishes her talk show with the phrase, “Be kind to one another,” before she says goodbye. I love it. It’s simple, easy, free, and an excellent tenet by which we can all live our lives.
Kindness echoes a common language, knows no color, carries no religion or political affiliation. Kindness is always in season.
It seems exceedingly difficult to turn kindness inward, to be truly encouraging and loving to ourselves. But why? What keeps us from living by the advice we so easily dispense to others? Why does the rhetoric inside our heads differ so drastically from the conversations with friends and loved ones?
I pride myself on being a very direct, honest person. I won't simply tell a friend what they want to hear, so when I’m kind and uplifting to them, it’s genuine. It feels good to make others feel good. You’d think the feeling would translate within, but there’s a barrier many of us have yet to cross. Not everyone, but many.
I know I am a great friend and loved one. Those are the qualities I value most in myself: being loyal, generous, compassionate, understanding. Can I inflict that positivity on myself? Nah, why bother? It’s much more fun to bring myself down all the time, to live in a state of constant disappointment and unease. That’s the yogic way, for sure!
I write and teach to encourage not only myself, but students, readers, friends, family and strangers to remember they're all worthy of their inherent goodness. It’s pivotal to give it, both within and without. Only then is our support for others not laced with hypocrisy and contradiction. We're living our truth, walking the walk and practicing what we preach.
We don’t have to be attractive to be kind, successful to be kind, rich to be kind, poor to be kind, old to be kind, young to be kind, and on and on it goes. There are no prerequisites to kindness. We're born with the innate ability to emote, to sympathize, empathize, relate, to love.
I think many of us simply get lost in the complexity of life and we forget to shine that light of awareness on ourselves, on the subtle, underlying interaction within. How often do we truly watch our thoughts, our moods, those tiny little decisions we make day in and day out? The voice inside when we look in the mirror speaks volumes and runs much deeper than how we think we look in our clothes.
You don’t have to like everything about yourself to love yourself. There are still many parts of my body and aspects to my personality I’m not fond of, but there’s some good stuff in there too, probably the qualities that have brought such incredible people to me. So instead of allowing flaws and idiosyncrasies to overwhelm my self-image, I’m choosing to lead from a kind foot moving forward.
I often stop myself from feeling too good, whether it's about my performance in my job, how I feel in my body, or any positive attribute I’m showcasing. I get worried my ego is inflating and that self-love equals egotism.
It doesn’t. There’s a large qualitative difference between the egoic love of self and the authentic love we're talking about here. The ego wants to win, to be better than others. It lives off comparison, feeds off of drama, loves feeling bad and feels better when others feel worse.
The fact of the matter is kindness begins within. The kinder we are to ourselves, the more we attract that benevolence from others, and the easier it is to emanate that frequency to our fellow human beings. Once we recognize how capable we are in giving ourselves what we need — be it encouragement, patience, understanding, openness — the less we base our happiness on how others perceive us.
When you love yourself and you love others, that's an unstoppable combination. It's luminescent and spellbinding. People will want to know what magic elixir you’re ingesting and how they can get their hands on some. Lucky for us all, it’s free and available within the bellows of each breath. It exists here and now, beating loudly from the center of your chest.
Notice how you speak to yourself versus how you speak to others, how you handle personal challenges versus how you help others through them, and ask yourself if you’re kinder to your friends than you are to yourself.
The beauty, talent and love others see is not bullshit. Most people are not nice just to be nice; they recognize a truth in you, that same truth you see in them. Let their eyes be a mirror, a window into your own magnificent soul. Life is too short to feel unworthy of happiness. Accept your unique and extraordinary self and inspire others to live with loving kindness.
You are capable. You are deserving. You are worthy. Believe it. Be it.