- How Can We Define Kindness?
William Bouguereau – Young Mother Gazing at Her Child  Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.”
William Arthur Ward
Kindness can have so many different aspects. Love, tenderness, gentleness, helpfulness, consideration, empathy, giving, attentive listening, friendliness….. all these come under the generous and spreading umbrella of kindness.
“A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
Dinah Maria Craik
It may be shown through words or gestures, expressions or direct action.
Just as there are many ways to be kind, there are many, many quotations that illustrate the power of kindness.
Here is my own selection of quotes from some great thinkers throughout history on the very important subject of kindness:
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
- Kindness Is A Choice
Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida – Doctor Joaquín Decref y Ruiz . Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
Roy T. Bennett
We do indeed have the choice to be kind. Being one’s best self is definitely something to aim for, every day of our lives. We can consciously opt for kindness rather than meanness or grouchiness!
“Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world.”
In making this choice, we have also decided to make a difference. In being there for others, even in the smallest way, we will have an impact that will enhance a moment, an hour, a day, perhaps a life.
“We are our choices.”
“Never lose a chance of saying a kind word.”
William Makepeace Thackeray
- The Kindness Of Strangers.
Vincent van Gogh – The Good Samaritan  Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
Depending on, and benefitting from, the kindness of strangers, has been especially relevant during the pandemic.
We have all needed to show kindness to others, and many of us have depended on people we have never met before offering us help, both physical and mental.
“I’ve been helped by acts of kindness from strangers. That’s why we’re here, after all, to help others.”
“Be nice to strangers. Be nice even when it doesn’t matter.”
“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
Kattingeri Krishna Hebbar – Victims Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Like thousands of others, we survived the storm and the many dark days that followed because of the kindness of strangers who brought food, water, and comfort.”
Many people have, indeed, proved to be angels in disguise.
From those who shop for the people who are shielding, to the telephone befrienders of the lonely and isolated, from the NHS medical and nursing staff, the scientists and key workers, to the volunteers at vaccination centres, from teachers to the police, paramedics, and the army, from the supermarket workers and delivery drivers, so many, many people have been active with their extreme kindness, helping others to get through.
Marc Chagall – The Bride and Groom of the Eiffel Tower (Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel) 
“Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise.”
- Kindness, Caring For Others And Human Connection
Showing kindness to others creates a feeling of community; noticing that other people around us are in need of assistance or care is a way of connecting with friends, neighbours and family.
Random acts of kindness really do make an impact; they are fundamental to a humane society.
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Kindness involves integrity, the integrity to do something good without necessarily getting anything in return.
“A kind and compassionate act is often its own reward.”
William John Bennett
“Act with kindness, but do not expect gratitude.”
Yet there are rewards. If we are able to be kind, even to those who do not make it easy for us, then we will, inevitably, discover that we ourselves feel more at peace.
Maréchal Niel Roses. Childe Hassam. 1919. Wikimedia Commons.
” A little fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.”
Exchanging self-interest for caring for others can only improve our mood and our ways of thinking. We will have improved relationships and better mental health ourselves.
“The sole way to save oneself is to save others. Or to struggle to save others -even that is sufficient.”
“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.”
Barbara De Angelis
“Do the kind of things that come from the heart, When you do, you won’t be dissatisfied, you won’t be envious, you won’t be longing for somebody else’s things. On the contrary, you’ll be overhelmed with what comes back.”
Laura Knight – Marsh Mallows Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.’
Richard Linderum – The Soup Kitchen Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
- The Value Of Kindness.
One cannot underestimate how valuable is kindness. It has the power to change, to heal.
The wise person knows that kindness and compassion can go a long way towards achieving peace and harmony in relationships, and in the world generally.
“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate”
Couples who lack kindness do not usually thrive together.
Their relationship will inevitably be characterised by misery, criticism, hostility, sulking, and thoughtless, angry behaviour.
“Kindness doesn’t mean that we don’t express our anger, but the kindness informs how we choose to express the anger. You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you’re hurt and angry, and that’s the kinder path.”
Edgar Degas – Sulking [c.1870]. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr
“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”
- Kindness and Time: The Importance of Kindness Now……..
Delaying kindness, putting it off till tomorrow, or next week, may mean missing a vital opportunity to give healing, affirmation or empathy to another, who may be in urgent need.
Edgar Degas – Convalescent. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
It is important not to underestimate the impact our kindness can have on other people.
“What if today you gave yourself permission to be outrageously kind? What if you extended as much good will and kindness as you can possibly muster to every person you meet? And what if you did it with no thought of reward? I’m sure of one thing: it will be a day you will never regret.”
Making the effort to show empathy and compassion at a time when it is most needed, even when we may not feel in a good place ourselves, will have the effect of connecting us to others in a profound way.
Aimé Morot (1850-1913). “Le Bon Samaritain”, 1880. Huile sur toile. Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais.Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
“There’s no use doing a kindness if you do it a day too late.”
Joan Eardley – The Table . Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Kindness Spreads…The Ripple Effect.
Bernard Spragg. NZ Water ripples. Rose “Nelson Girls” Flickr.
“Kindness is ever the begetter of kindness.”
There has been much focus over recent months on how people can spread Coronavirus. Bad news has been something we have, sadly, heard on a regular basis.
The vaccine is, hopefully, going to lessen the power of this deadly virus.
What also lessens its devastating effects on our mental health is kindness. Could kindness offer us a sort of immunity from such pain, lessening to some extent the dire effects of loneliness, loss and fear?
Sophocles already knew something that contemporary research has proved: that kindness spreads amongst people.
Perhaps, as the pandemic fades, in time, we can begin to gain ‘herd immunity’ to being unkind?
Might kindness become contagious?
“When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world”
“There’s no such things as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
“The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.”
Van Gogh. Tree Roots and Tree Trunks. Wikimedia Commons.
“No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.”
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. “
14th Dalai Lama
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