This blog has been triggered by the recent tragic events in New Zealand and Sri Lanka. We saw Jacinda Arden, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, speaking on the world stage about the importance empathy and kindness, and showing great care to family members who lost loved ones. The Dalai Lama also speaks about kindness: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
Kindness is one of many values in life. Let’s take a step back for a moment and define VALUES. They ‘are the principles that give our lives meaning and allow us to persevere through adversity.’(1) In simple terms, they represent what is important to us in life. We learn values from our family, friends, schooling and all the influences in society. Values also change over time, depending on life events and our learning.
Here are a few ways to identify your current values – see if you can identify your top 3 or 4:(2)
- You can look at lists of values online (e.g. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/click-here-happiness/201807/39-core-values-and-how-live-them
- Or consider a few people you admire or who are role models, and ask; what is it about them that inspires you, or what do you love about them?
- Maybe reflect on yourself and how you live your life, the decisions you make – do any values stand out (e.g. truthfulness, caring, curiosity, loyalty).
It is also helpful to:
- Think about actions that define what it would mean to live a particular value e.g. optimism – would that mean focussing on positive thinking, or being more aware of what you are grateful for?
- And also think about what situations or thoughts lead you away from your values e.g. being overly busy and distracted by things that aren’t so important to you.
What have you discovered about yourself so far? When you identify your top values, you can focus on them more and use them more in life. This helps us appreciate them and ourselves, and to feel happier! Being more familiar with your value has quite a few benefits. It:(3)
- Reduces stress.
- Improves decision-making and clarity (values are a good guide in life).
- Motivates us to seek out people and situations that fit with your values.
- Increases motivation and inspiration.
- Gives you a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life (values are the ‘why’ behind what we do in life).
- Increases self-belief and confidence.
And they help us get through the tough times in life.
In fact, values become the foundation to our character.(4) Aristotle said; “(individuals) acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way.” So if you want to strengthen a value, or add in a new one, you can do more actions that are consistent with the new value, and do less of the actions related to the opposing value.(5)
So let’s come back to kindness. Henry James wrote: “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. So it is about concern and caring.(6) Kindness is important for our survival and happiness. Kindness helps us be empathic to the suffering of others, so let’s all work on kindness as being a core value in our lives. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself, and let’s foster kindness in others too!
(1) Selig, M. 2018. 6 Ways to Discover and Choose Your Core Values, retrieved on 30th April 2019 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201811/6-ways-discover-and-choose-your-core-values
(3) Davis, T. 2018. 39 Core Values – and How to Live by Them. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/click-here-happiness/201807/39-core-values-and-how-live-them
(4) Fouroux, D 2018. https://dariusforoux.com/core-values/
(5) Thum, M. 2013. Do You Know Your Personal Values? Retrieved on 30th April 2019 from https://myrkothum.com/personal-values/
(6) Hall, K. 2017. The Importance of Kindness, retrieved on 30th April 2019 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pieces-mind/201712/the-importance-kindness