What is kindness?
Oxford dictionary defines kindness as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
Seems simple ,yet so difficult to practice .
Most of us can’t see beyond our own selfish needs to practice kindness with someone else . We are so self obsessed that we think that we are deserving of all kindness from others but we don’t need to be kind toward them .
A study conducted by happiness researcher Sean Achor shows that if you perform random acts of kindness for two minutes a day for twenty-one days, you can actually retrain your brain to be more positive.
How amazing is that ? You are being kind to others but it’s actually beneficial for yourself .If your brain is more positive , you have positive thoughts , positive thoughts lead to productivity, productivity leads to accomplishment of goals, accomplishment leads to contentment which leads to a happier life .
Why is it so difficult to practice kindness?
We are all different, a product of our genes, environmental factors , upbringings and so many other external and internal factors.
Not all people can be kind , just like not all people can be cruel , kindness in inherent, some people are born with it and their quality is nurtured while others are inherently cruel .
We all are not equal. So our qualities are also not the same.
In some households cruelty is taught to young children to prepare them for life, to ensure survival , to teach them self preservation.
We can practice being kind ,starting with ourselves, we need to be kind to ourselves ,we need to reform our thoughts, change our perspectives, learn to walk in others’ shoes, we need to train our minds to be kind, to have empathy for others , to treat others how we would like to be treated.
Is it possible to become a kinder person?
The question here is, can a person learn kindness?
There are many studies that suggest that yes, a person CAN learn kindness, there are many ways to practice kindness in one’s daily life .Here are a few :
1. Work on your intentions:
This means we have to be mindful of our intentions ,we have to consciously correct our intentions and act in a kinder way towards others .As Muslims, it’s so much easier for us to correct our intentions as we get rewarded for every kind deed we perform, even meeting your brother with a smile is considered an act of kindness and will be rewarded.
In fact ,our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him ) emphasized on kindness so much so that he (peace be upon him) advised us to be kind ,not just with human beings ,but with animals as well, heres a beautiful narration that explains the point:
Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “A prostitute had once been forgiven. She passed by a dog panting near a well. Thirst had nearly killed him, so she took off her sock, tied it to her veil, and drew up some water. Allah forgave her for that.”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 3143, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2245
See, a woman was forgiven for being kind to an animal, imagine how much reward we will get from being kind to other human beings.
Our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) ,was the kindest ,most compassionate man.He felt deeply for others and was kind even to his enemies, here is a narration about him being kind to even the worst of people:
Amr ibn Al-‘As reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, would embrace the worst people with a cheerful face and kind words, and by that he would soften their hearts. The Prophet would embrace me with a cheerful face and kind words until I thought that I was the best of people.
Source: al-Shamā’il al-Muḥammadīyah 334
In another narration the quality of kindness has been admired:
Abu Darda reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever has the quality of kindness has been given his portion of goodness. And whoever is deprived of the quality of kindness has been deprived of his portion of goodness.”
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2013
As muslims ,it’s so much easier for us to follow the footsteps of our role model, our Prophet (Peace be upon him ),and expect great rewards in both the worlds.
2. Change your perspective.
Looking at things from others’ point of view can also make us kinder.People often spend most of their lives with the same perspective, the same outlook on the world, if a person is used to seeing negativity in other people it will be very hard for him/her to see any goodness in anyone ,likewise if a person is used to behaving rudely with others it will be very hard him/her to behave graciously.A simple change of perspective can change a person’s attitude, just by assuming the best from everyone ,by thinking positively, by realizing that people can do good without having any ulterior motives, by attempting to feel someone else’s pain, by putting oneself in others’ situation and imaging the difficulty that person is facing ,can change a person into becoming kinder and more compassionate
3. Take small steps.
It’s surely difficult to become a kinder person overnight, what we can do is, practice kindness in small doses.A few steps we can take are:
- Do something nice for someone .
- When someone shares their problems with you, try to be sympathetic instead of judging them.
- Help a stranger .
- Feed the poor.
- Help your servants with the housework.
- Be nice to your spouse and children.
- Be respectful towards your parents.
- Give away some of your clothes to charity
- Lend a listening ear to your friend.
These are just a few things we can practice in our daily lives to make our hearts softer.
4. Take a break when frustrated.
Often we are mean to others when we are tired, frustrated or angry already, and the next person who comes in front of us gets to face our wrath.
The beat strategy to deal with this is to pause before speaking, take a few moments ,do some deep breathing exercises ,go for a walk ,splash your face with cold water ,have a cup of tea ,sit alone and stare at the sky.The point is ,do whatever you have to do to calm yourself down before approaching the problem at hand ,instead of taking out your frustrations on others.
Pause ,before lashing out ,
Think ,why am I angry ,is this the person I am at angry at or am I just taking out my anger on him/her.
Compose yourself ,
When you have your thoughts in order only then interact with other people ,this will definitely help you become kinder, nicer, and more a agreeable person.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others .
Every person in this world has problems ,everyone has to face trials, big or small,every person is struggling .
IT IS NOT A COMPETITION.
Realize this: life is not a competition on who has more troubles or who is more stressed out.Focus on yourself and on your live only, comparing yourself with others will keep you in a perpetual state of despair.It will turn you into an envious ,jealous person who is not able to empathize with anyone .You can see for yourself that these kind of people are the rudest ,meanest and cruelest people.
Practice having kind thoughts about others, be happy for them for you do not know what kind of horrors they have faced in their lives .
Here is a narration for some motivation :
Aisha reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, kindness is not found in anything except that it beautifies it, and it is not removed from anything except that it disgraces it.”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2594
6. Be happy for others.
When we see other people’s blessing we are unable to be happy for them, we are unable to say a kind word to them about their accomplishments ,why?
Because we think we were more deserving of this blessing , we were more deserving of the acclaim that comes with an accomplishment, why did the other person receive this blessing instead of us when we had the right over every blessing , these thoughts of entitlement stop us from uttering a single kind word and slowly the only thing we are capable of uttering are rude , offensive and derogatory comments.
Try being genuinely happy for others ,
Acknowledge their good qualities ,
Applaud their accomplishments ,
Appreciate their efforts ,
Say nice things,
Give compliments , and see yourself turn into a kinder , softer person .
7. Let go of feelings of self pity and the sense of entitlement .
What is the connection between self pity, entitlement and kindness?
A very deep one.
When we are constantly drowning in self pity we feel wronged, we feel we were deserving of so much more than we got ,these feeling of despair stem from a deep rooted sense of entitlement over all the blessing in the world, when we feel we have the right over all things good and nobody else deserves anything we become indignant when we are not treated the way we want ,or when we are not given the things we want, even the smallest altercation feels momentous , this indignation leads to rudeness toward others and narcissistic behaviour.
8. Practice gratitude
Being thankful is essential if we want to become kinder and more compassionate. Practicing gratitude in our daily lives helps us develop feelings of fulfillment ,it helps us see our blessings, it helps us realize that we have been given more then we deserve and if someone else has been blessed with something better than us ,it’s ok ,we feel no need to be jealous as we are content within ourselves .This helps us to become a happier, kinder person who can be happy for others .
The most important thing to do is ,to pray ,to regularly make duaa to Allah Tala about our shortcomings, the best way to do is to offer two rakats nafl and make sincere duaa after that that ;’O Allah! please make me a kinder person, please remove these negative feeling of jealousy and hatred from my heart ,please make me more compassionate as nothing is in my hands and only You can make this possible.
Make duaa for yourself regularly and you will be amazed when it comes true ,you will be surprised at your own self ,you will wonder how did I change so much ?
Duaa can make anything possible, you just have to want it enough .
SO make sincere intentions of changing yourself today ,practice these tips ,be mindful of your words and actions ,make duaa for yourself and you will see yourself transforming into a new you in no time .
Khalid ibn Ma’dan reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Allah Almighty is kind. He loves kindness and is pleased by it. He offers support for it, that which is not offered for harshness.”
Source: al-Mu’jam al-Kabīr 17277.