Kindness = Love ?
: of a sympathetic or helpful nature
was helped by a kind neighbor
They were very kind to us.
kind treatment of animals
: arising from or characterized by sympathy or forbearance
a kind act
a kind smile
: of a kind to give pleasure or relief
cooled by a kind breeze
Because February is the month of love, I wanted to explore how kindness helps create just that.
I read an article a few years ago about elderly couples who have stayed together for many years. It truly touched and inspired me, as I'm a sucker for a good love story!
All the couples shared different things, but what stood out to me most was the common theme running throughout each of their relationships: Kindness.
They mentioned that even though the years of passion are behind them, the tool they found for not letting their love go stale is the active choice of being kind to each other.
In our society, the media often portrays romantic love as this magical thing that sweeps us up and changes our lives. Where after a while you either maintain that state of bliss, or end up breaking up in a messy situation, that makes you wonder how you even loved that person in the first place.
Let's agree that real life is a lot more nuanced than that.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with witnessing relationships that are not based in kindness. People who stay together only out of habit and familiarity. There’s no doubt that they have love for each other, but something is obviously missing in their dynamic.
It gets me thinking about how relationships change over time and why it is challenging to view our partners with the same tenderness as we did in the beginning.
When you meet a stranger, you have no expectations of them. You are witnessing their existence and interacting with them based on the present moment. But once you’ve known someone for long enough, you know their reactions, their quirks, and their fears. You anticipate their answers before they even have a chance to share them. This doesn’t seem like a bad thing, and it isn’t. The sticky part comes in when what you expected never comes because the person changes their reactions, as we all inevitably do over time.
I believe it’s our expectations of the other person that creates so much of the tension we witness.
This ties in nicely to last month’s theme about beginnings: how every moment can offer us a new opportunity. Viewing each other with fresh eyes, instead of expecting the person to be the same as they were yesterday, frees us from limitations and allows us to change right alongside them.
Small acts that show the other person you care is the most necessary aspect to longevity, seeing as our lives add up from these day-to-day interactions. At the end of the day, the things that make us feel good are acts of kindness. They are the small moments, like someone asking you how your day has been, or opening the door for you, or reminding you of something you otherwise might forget.
My interpretation, based on the advice of these couples, is that kindness is the practice that helps maintain and create love itself in relationships.
Looking out for the other person in small acts, while having positive intentions towards them, but allowing room for them to change. That’s my definition of love.
And I would go so far as to say that this applies to all relationships, not just romantic ones. Even the relationship you have with yourself will only benefit from added kindness!
So this month, I hope you recognize the small moments of kindness all around you and take them for what they truly are: Expressions of love that can last.
May we all find it in our hearts to show kindness to ourselves, each other, and the world.
I bid farewell with the kindest: I love you.