Exercising Kindness | Psychology Today Canada
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Kindness can be defined as being friendly, helpful, generous and considerate. People who practice kindness often do so without expectation of anything in return. Being kind is a way of expressing love.
The practice of kindness has been shown to improve self-esteem, mood, empathy, and compassion. It can decrease blood pressure and the body level of cortisol, which is a hormone that is triggered by stress. Thus, practicing kindness can help people live longer and healthier lives (Fryberg, 2022).
It’s interesting to note that exercise, a good diet, sufficient sleep, hypnosis, and meditation also each can improve mental and physical health in similar ways to acts of kindness.
Expression of Kindness
Kindness can be practiced towards others in big and small ways. You can donate old clothes, help a senior with their groceries, or offer to mow the lawn for a neighbor. Kindness can be contagious! When people feel good as a result of a kind act, they are likely to be kind in turn. “Paying it forward” is one way to start a kindness chain.
I often take students to lunch, and when they offer to pay I tell them about my mentors who took me to lunch when I was a student. I recall how good I felt when my mentors treated me with kindness. I tell my students to repay me by being kind to their future students.
Kindness can help you feel more connected with others, and therefore help alleviate loneliness. If you are dealing with anxiety, focusing on acts of kindness can help focus your mind in a positive way and thus help you become calmer.
It is important to remember to be kind to yourself. You can do so through use of positive self-talk, being grateful, and taking time to take care of yourself. Most people know the Golden Rule, “Treat others as you would want to be treated.” However, for some people who focus exclusively on helping and being kind to others, this rule should be modified to “Treat yourself as you treat others.”
If you feel selfish by focusing on yourself, keep in mind that by helping yourself remain healthy and happy you will be in a better position to continue to help others for a long time.
Kindness Through Hypnosis
When you are using hypnosis as a self-calming tool, you are practicing kindness with yourself. During hypnosis you can give yourself suggestions regarding how to be kinder. For example, you might tell yourself that you want to become calmer, more grateful, and happier when others succeed.
During hypnosis you can use your imagination to rehearse kind acts that you would like to undertake, which will help you put them into action. Mental rehearsal can also encourage you to practice kindness because you will be better able to look forward to the resulting positive outcomes.
Focus on loving kindness thoughts can lead to profound changes. For example, some of my patients complain of difficulty dealing with certain authority figures in their lives such as teachers or bosses. In those instances, I recommend the counterintuitive practice of projecting loving kindness thoughts toward an authority figure they dislike.
Such thoughts can include, “May you be healthy, may you be happy, may you be content, and may you be at ease.”
Often, my patients subsequently report a great improvement in their relationship with their authority figures. Such improvement might have occurred because the patients changed their attitude or behavior during interactions with the authority figures.
The Dalai Lama has said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Hypnosis can help improve your ability to be kind to yourself and others.
Copyright Ran D. Anbar
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