Connecting Through Kindness
Our current world presents us with beliefs and social constructs that act to divide us. It’s so easy for us to get distracted with difference that we lose sight of what’s really important- being human.
To be able to connect and understand one another doesn’t mean that we ignore, hide or simply tolerate differences. In fact, in order to operate peacefully through kindness, we need to boldly acknowledge, celebrate and embrace our differences.
When we think about connecting with others, we think about finding similarities, or trying to find ourselves within another person. It's always good to find people who can relate to your experience, or who like the same things you do- but connecting in this way takes away from the individual- you only see them for as much as you're similar, but not as an individual.
To truly connect to another person, you need to be able to "see" them- as a whole person, in all of their parts- those that are similar to you, but also those that are different. Otherwise, you are only really connecting with yourself- not expanding, growing and learning more about the different perspectives, talents, thoughts and beliefs others bring to the table.
Connection & Kindness
Pleasantries and niceties can be more than just automatic responses. They can be first steps to making a connection with people we otherwise may not have. If fear is driving you away from connecting with someone, try to offer a smile, a wave or a quick hello. Even a pleasant, acknowledging glance can be enough to connect with someone in a meaningful way. Showing kindness to another not only benefits them, but has health benefits for you, including lowering blood pressure, increasing self-esteem and the release of feel-good chemicals which help to reduce anxiety and fear. So, by being kind and seeking connection with someone whose difference you may fear, you can actually alleviate the negative feelings by being the first to be kind.
I challenge you to try connecting with someone different today. Hold open a door, say hello, offer a kind word, or offer to help. You'll find that, once you conquer that initial hesitation, approaching others and connecting through kindness is a rewarding experience. Instead of spreading fear, anxiety and hate, let's commit to spreading kindness- one smile at a time.