Kindness entails not only being nice but also going beyond being nice. We must learn to see things through the eyes of others and to put their needs ahead of our own wants and desires. Kindness and the related trait of compassion assume a belief in a common humanity in which all human life is connected and equal in worth. Kindness at all times entails a relinquishing of self-centeredness and an outward focus on service to others, whether that service is to our family, our country, or to our world.

This relinquishing of self-centeredness does not mean a negation of one’s own needs and interest. In fact, becoming of maximum service to others demands that we take care of ourselves and our own needs first. We are of no use to others if we give so much of ourselves that we neglect self-care and burn out. So in a sense, a life of kindness demands that we be kind to ourselves first. This means not only eating healthy, getting plenty of rest, and maintaining an active lifestyle; but also nurturing important relationships with our significant other and with our family and friends. Yes we still make time for others – but we must be kind to our loved ones and ourselves also. It is not kind to neglect our spouse, family or friends so we can be kind to strangers – there is a balance we must maintain of kindness to self, our friends, family, and with others. This is not a zero sum matter where one person must lose in order for another to win. When we take care of our relationships and ourselves first, then we are freer to act kindly towards others.

Ron Hill