What is kindness?

Killing them with kindness is this week’s Writing Prompt from the Daily Post.

But what is kindness?

Having been a Girl Guide I grew up in a culture of helping people and being courteous.  Courtesy is not mentioned much nowadays.  It is old-fashioned good manners.  However I was grown-up, married and with children of my own before I really began to think about kindness.

I had a friend, who often used the word, “kind”.

It made me think.  I decided I was not a particularly kind person.  About a quarter of a century later, I wonder how to describe kindness.

It seems to be somewhere between consideration for others and love.  I try to make a habit of being kind to other people.

Now my hair is turning grey, I find more strangers are kind to me.  Sometimes I am offered a seat on the London underground.  This is well-known as a place where people do not speak to each other and do not make eye-contact.  Once on the underground someone pointed out to me that my backpack was unfastened and offered to fasten it for me.  (I was holding the handle of my trolley case in one hand and the handrail with the other!)

On another trip across London on a very crowded tube train a young man offered me a seat, which I accepted. However, I could see another passenger, considerably older than I was, standing too far away to reach my seat.  When the passenger sitting next to me left the train, I signalled to the older person and moved up one seat so that he could have mine.  Unusually we got talking.  (It is possible that he had noticed my luggage included a carrier bag from a local shop.)

It turned out that we had travelled to London on the same two trains and knew some of the same people and places.  It is a small world.

I think this is an example of spreading a little kindness.  Someone was kind to me; then I passed kindness on to someone else.  I am aware that people are not always ready to accept help and it is possible to be well-meaning, but irritating.

How would you define kindness?

 

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7 thoughts on “What is kindness?

  1. I don’t think being nice to another makes you kind. I would give up my seat to an older person on a bus happily. However I wouldn’t do it because I’m good but rather I fear that others would think I’m bad if I don’t do it. Somebody who is kind is somebody who does these things for the right reasons I suppose.

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      • Possibly. One good deed doesn’t make a person good. A person has to be good inside. If I give to charity that’s considered a kindness. If I give to charity only so that I can brag that I’m charitable is it still a kindness? I guess motivation is important. Similarly many people are charitable because of guilt…so their kindness isn’t due to them being good but rather because they have to do it to feel better…so it’s not really a kindness at all? Kindness is selfless. Just my opinion, of course.

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  2. I think kindness is being friendly and generous, considering how others around you are affected by your actions. I think it involves putting others first, not to your own detriment, but just what could benefit them before helping yourself. I was a Girl Guide too. I grew up on “lend a hand” and “be prepared”. I wonder if today’s Girl Guides are taught the same values.

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