As children, we learn that kindness is a desirable quality and, as adults, the majority of us want to be compassionate. To treat yourself with kindness means to accept yourself and all your faults; to understand that none of us are perfect, though we often have very high, sometimes unattainable expectations to be gentle, warm and supportive and not harshly judge when mistakes are made.
Making a mistake does not mean we are not worthy, it makes us human. We are all deserving of care and understanding. Research has shown that when we practice self-kindness we are more connected to those around us, we feel happier and less stressed.
Without the voice of self-criticism holding us back we are likely to be more productive and successful. We build our resilience and are more likely to bounce back from perceived failure.
How can we practice self-kindness?
Create a personal motivating statement, a mantra, to remind yourself that you are worthy of care. For example, ‘I am good at what I do’, ‘I am good enough’, ‘I am doing my best’.
We all have negative stories that circulate in our minds. Our inner critic telling us we are stupid, unlikeable and shameful. These are our deepest fears, created by ourselves during our journey to adulthood. If we choose to take a step back and simply notice the inner critic, without trying to change anything or shut down our feelings, we can begin the process of separating these embedded fears from our reality. We have the power to rewrite our stories.
Be kind to your mind and your body. Eat a nourishing and well-balanced diet; spend time outdoors in nature, take regular exercise, meditate, engage with friends and family, listen to music, read a book, dance, laugh. These are not treats, regular self-care is essential for your health and wellbeing.
A happy workforce
We spend a large amount of our adult lives in the workplace, and therefore have a responsibility to support our colleagues and employees. Besides the obvious ethical reasons for ensuring you have a happy workforce, there are also objective benefits.
Shawn Anchor, author of The Happiness Advantage, argues that happiness brings success, as your brain works more effectively and creatively when you are feeling happy. Warwick University research also links happiness with an increase in productivity.
To create a happier workforce and effectively invest in employee support and satisfaction, communication is key. Engage with and listen to your workforce. Co-create a wellbeing programme that meets their actual needs. A successful wellbeing programme must start from the top down, with employers who accept and understand the benefits of creating a happy workplace. Ensure your company is able to provide support for employees facing a range of potential difficulties, such as:
Step by step, we move towards kindness and compassion, planting trees for generations to come.
Kindness is the theme for this year's Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May 2020).