“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind;
the second is to be kind; the third is to be kind.”
– Henry James
Kindness toward others is one of my favorite qualities in a person. The world needs more kindness, plain and simple.
Being kind to yourself is equally important. You are your most important relationship. The quality of everything you do in life will be enhanced by how you view yourself and how you treat yourself.
If you are kind to yourself, you will be happier, healthier and more whole. Your self-esteem will be higher, and you will have more strength to deal with all life throws your way. And, you will be able to give more to others if you tend to yourself first.
Not everyone can do this well. You may be thinking, “Isn’t this a bit self-centered?” “Shouldn’t I be focusing on others ahead of myself?” Yes and no. I am an “others first” kind of person. We all need to value others ahead of ourselves, and we will have plenty of life situations where we should prioritize the needs of others over our own.
Holistically, however, it is important that you care for yourself. You need a strong foundation from which to serve and support others. It will be very difficult to be kind to others if you are not kind to yourself first.
Five ways to be kinder to yourself:
1. Take good care of yourself. You can look around at almost any point in your day and see scores of people who are not taking care of themselves. And so many people are paying a price in terms of their physical, emotional and mental health. Do not let that be you.
We all have one physical body that we have been entrusted with. And, yet so many of us neglect the proper care and upkeep. I’ve seen a number of people take better care of their cars and furnaces than they do of their own physical body.
- Eat healthy food.
- Drink water.
- Get outside for fresh air.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Take a break from sugar.
What habits do you need to incorporate into your day to show greater kindness toward yourself?
2. Be your own friend. How do you treat your friends? You recognize them for their accomplishments, you remind them of their good qualities, you help them deal with their imperfections, you believe in them, and you accept them for who they are.
Hello? Excuse me? Do you hear yourself? What about bestowing every single one of these things upon your own self? You deserve exactly the same as your friends.
Try your very best to overcome perfection. Wake up every day and appreciate one good thing about yourself. This will be a good daily start.
3. Find time each day to just be. Allow yourself to take a break from the barrage of social media, text messages, emails and demands of others. It’s okay to step away. Enjoy silence. Give yourself thinking time. Dream. Relax.
- Step away from your desk at work, and take a five-minute walk. Do not take your phone with you.
- Go on a walk, and (again) leave your phone at home.
- When you’re driving in the car, leave the radio off.
- Meditate for five minutes in the morning.
4. Accept imperfection.Show compassion for yourself. Compassion is an acknowledgement that, as human beings, we all make mistakes; we all fall short of expectations.
It is predictable that you will have moments of disappointment, you’ll hurt other people, you’ll fail to accomplish something that was important to you. These things are all part of the human condition. Allow yourself to be human.
Do not beat yourself up. Pick yourself up, and move forward. Do what you can to make the situation better in the future. And most definitely, to not allow your moments of imperfection to propel you into a state of self-pity.
5. Appreciate your qualities. YOUR qualities. What do others admire about you? Your kindness, patience, happiness? Your laughter or your smile? Your willingness to help others?
It is very easy to fall into a comparison trap. You look around and admire the positive qualities of your friends and wish you could be like them. You’re reserved, they’re outgoing. They’re creative, you’re pragmatic. They’re friendly and smile easily, you’re quiet and a bit mysterious.
The world needs all of it. People are drawn to different qualities in different people. Someone will love a reserved, pragmatic, quiet nature. Embrace it!
Do you have opportunities to be kinder to yourself? Start with one or two things. One step at a time.