What Is Love: Being Kind To Others and To Yourself

 What Is Love? Being Kind To Your Neighbor and To Yourself
Image by rawpixel

As I was reflecting the other day on love -- loving ourselves, loving our neighbor, loving the world itself -- it came to me that with all the "stigma" attached to the word love, sometimes we may be at a loss as to what it really means.

Love has been portrayed as sex, as martyrdom, as self-aggrandizement, or as co-dependence. Thus when we speak of loving ourselves or loving others, we may be unclear at to exactly what that means. Is it selfish, is it narcissistic, is it conditional? What exactly is "loving ourselves"? 

A much simpler way, and maybe a more understandable way, to express that goal or vision is simply to say "Be Kind". Think about it, when we are kind to someone we are definitely not unloving and when we are kind to ourselves, that is loving ourselves. When we are kind to the Earth, we are demonstrating love in action.

Be Kind To Your Neighbor and To Yourself

Maybe, rather than trying to practice love thy neighbor as thyself, we could better understand and practice, be kind to your neighbor and to yourself.

Be Kind. Now we all know what that means. Being kind has no connotations, as love can have, of sexuality or martyrdom. Being kind is simply that -- being kind to others, being kind to ourselves.

For me, coming to this realization just made loving myself and loving my neighbor a whole lot simpler. I just have to "be kind" to myself and to "be kind" to my neighbor. I can focus on having kind thoughts, kind motives, and kind actions.

Random Acts of Kindness

You may remember some years back a movement started having to do with practicing Random Acts of Kindness. This involved such things as putting money into parking meters when you saw they were about to run out of minutes -- even if you had no idea whose car it was that you saving from a parking ticket. It also involved paying for the person behind you when you got to the toll booth.


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Practicing random acts of kindness has to do with being kind to people without expecting any reward or thanks. Being kind to strangers. Being kind just to be kind -- not because someone expected it of you, or because you felt guilty. It is simply an act of kindness, and act of love - unselfish, unwarranted, unexpected, and maybe unrewarded. Except we then find that kindness is its own reward. We feel good because we know we "did good". We feel satisfied, because we know we acted from the heart.

Kindness comes from the heart. If it comes from the head it may be more of an analytical decision, such as, I will be kind to this person so they will in turn do me a favor. That may appear like kindness on the outside, but you know that your motivation is not selfless. Kindness toward others is not for the self, it is for the other.

Yet even kindness that starts with a selfish motive can help others. It may be a case of "fake it till you make it". Maybe at first, we're kind because we know, or we hope, that we'll get something out of it. But as time goes by, we learn that being kind is its own reward. It creates endorphins (happy hormones) in our body. It makes us feel like we did something good and thus we feel good. While kindness is done without expecting a reward, when it is done unselfishly, it brings great rewards - inner peace, happiness, and satisfaction of a deed well done.

Put A Little Kindness in Your Heart

We all certainly can use more kindness in our lives. When we eat foods that we know are harmful to our health and well-being, are we being kind to our body, to ourselves? When we insult someone, or hold a grudge and seethe with resentment, are we being kind -- either to ourselves or to them? After all, holding on to anger raises our blood pressure, increases our stress levels, and creates havoc in our own body - never mind the effect on the peace and harmony in the room.

The question to ask ourselves as we go about our day is "Am I Being Kind?" The other day, as I sat with a friend, I started teasing her about something. As I did so, all of a sudden I realized that I wasn't being kind. Oops. Now, my goal is to remember, before I respond with anger or impatience, or even teasingly, to ask myself "Am I being kind?"

I find that a lot of things that I "normally" thought were fine (even jokes about our government officials) are not kind. So I rephrase my thoughts or words to be kind -- honest, but kind. It makes me feel better about myself when I'm being kind and I'm sure it makes the people around me feel better as well.

Am I Being Kind?

If we look at many of our actions and ask "Am I being kind?" we can discover a whole set of ethics to live by. Littering? Not kind. Driving recklessly? Not kind. Eating junk food? Not kind for our body. Going around in a bad mood? Not kind to ourselves or to others. Gossiping? Definitely not kind. And the list goes on and on...

Here's to all of us practicing being kind to each other, to ourselves, and to our Mother Earth. A little kindness can go a long way in healing the ache in our heart and the divide between people and planet.

RECOMMENDED BOOK:

Random Acts of Kindness
by Dawna Markova.

Random Acts of KindnessNamed a USA Today Best Bet for Educators, this is a book that encourages grace through the smallest gestures. The inspiration for the kindness movement, Random Acts of Kindness is an antidote for a weary world. Its true stories, thoughtful quotations, and suggestions for generosity inspire readers to live more compassionately in this beautiful new edition.

Info/Order this book. Also available as an audiobook.

About The Author

Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.

Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com

Related Books

Video: 10 Incredible Acts of Kindness Caught On Camera

More Articles By This Author

You May Also Like

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfifrdehiiditjakomsnofaptruessvtrvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Marie T. Russell's Daily Inspiration
 

INNERSELF VOICES

Healing Otherness: Your Changes, Reflected in Community
Healing Otherness: Your Changes, Reflected in Community
by Stacee L. Reicherzer PhD
Seeking out a community of healing, being exploited in it, perhaps assuming the shame and…
Horoscope Week: June 14 - 20, 2021
Horoscope Current Week: June 14 - 20, 2021
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
Being A Better Person
Being A Better Person
by Marie T. Russell
"He makes me want to be a better person." As I reflected on this statement later, I realized that…
Modeling Behavior is the Best Teacher: Respect Must Be Mutual
Modeling Behavior is the Best Teacher: Respect Must Be Mutual
by Carmen Viktoria Gamper
Socially respected behavior is learned behavior and some of it (for instance, table manners) varies…
Separation and Isolation vs. Community and Compassion
Separation and Isolation vs. Community and Compassion
by Lawrence Doochin
When we are in community, we automatically fall into service to those in need because we know them…
The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday
The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday
by Jason Redman
Ambushes don’t just happen in combat. In business and life, an ambush is a catastrophic event that…
A Season for Everything: The Way Our Ancestors Ate
A Season for Everything: The Way Our Ancestors Ate
by Vatsala Sperling
Cultures on every continent around the world have a collective memory of a time when their…
How to Build New Bone... Naturally
How to Build New Bone... Naturally
by Maryon Stewart
Many women assume that when their menopause symptoms stop, they are on safe ground. Sadly, we face…

MOST READ

How to Build New Bone... Naturally
How to Build New Bone... Naturally
by Maryon Stewart
Many women assume that when their menopause symptoms stop, they are on safe ground. Sadly, we face…
An Open Letter to the Entire Human Family
An Open Letter to the Entire Human Family
by Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj
This is the moment of truth for humankind. Critical choices must now be made in order to protect…
This Pandemic Has Shown That Following The Same Road Will Lead The World Over A Cliff
This Pandemic Has Shown That Following The Same Road Will Lead The World Over A Cliff
by Ian Goldin, University of Oxford
Despite the tragic deaths, suffering and sadness that it has caused, the pandemic could go down in…
How Much Data Is The World Producing And Where It's All Stored
How Much Data Is The World Producing And Where It's All Stored
by Melvin M. Vopson, University of Portsmouth
Humans achieved more technological development in the past 150 years than during the previous 2,000…
What Causes Dry Lips, And How Can You Treat Them? Does Lip Balm Actually Help?
What Causes Dry Lips? Does Lip Balm Actually Help?
by Christian Moro, Associate Professor of Science & Medicine, Bond University
People have been trying to figure out how to fix dry lips for centuries. Using beeswax, olive oil…
A health-care worker performs a COVID swab test on a patient.
Why are some COVID test results false positives, and how common are they?
by Adrian Esterman, Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of South Australia
Two COVID-19 cases previously linked to Melbourne’s current outbreak have now been reclassified as…
0mc9bvhy
Banking That Serves People, Not Bankers
by Jim Hightower
Corporate ideologues never cease blathering that government programs should be run like a business.…
The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday
The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday
by Jason Redman
Ambushes don’t just happen in combat. In business and life, an ambush is a catastrophic event that…
Superforecasters: what pandemic planners can learn from the world's best predictors
Superforecasters: What Pandemic Planners Can Learn From The World's Best Predictors
by Gabriel Recchia, Research Associate, Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, University of Cambridge
Experts got it catastrophically wrong, according to Dominic Cummings, UK prime minister Boris…
image
The mystery of long COVID: up to 1 in 3 people who catch the virus suffer for months. Here's what we know so far
by Vanessa Bryant, Laboratory Head, Immunology Division, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Most people who get COVID suffer the common symptoms of fever, cough and breathing problems, and…
image
IRS hitting you with a fine or late fee? Don't fret – a consumer tax advocate says you still have options
by Rita W. Green, Instructor of Accountancy, University of Memphis
Tax Day has come and gone, and you think you filed your return in the nick of time. But several…
A Season for Everything: The Way Our Ancestors Ate
A Season for Everything: The Way Our Ancestors Ate
by Vatsala Sperling
Cultures on every continent around the world have a collective memory of a time when their…
How Well Your Immune System Works Can Depend On The Time Of Day
How Well Your Immune System Works Can Depend On The Time Of Day
by Annie Curtis, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences
When microorganisms – such as bacteria or viruses – infect us, our immune system jumps into action.…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.