For the fourth week of the Kindness Challenge put on by Niki at “The Richness of a Simple Life”, the focus moved away from the self to kindness that is expressed outwardly.
I have been sitting on this for a little while now and asking myself lots of questions. It has brought up something in me that I have been grappling with for a long time. While it seems that many people can easily identify role models in their life and have people they aspire to, this has never been something I have felt drawn to.
Rather than having somebody I would admire for who they are, I can appreciate certain traits that people can possess without attributing them to someone specific. I think asking people for their role model to me sometimes has the same effect as being asked, “What do you do for living?” It is a question that I would prefer to dodge. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a great thing to know your role models. I personally think I could benefit from finding an answer to the question, as I would think this is how people identify potential mentors for their life. It’s just never been something, I have been able to answer.
Therefore, when I further contemplated this week’s challenge, I tried to find an approach that would work for me. When I think of kindness extended by others, the acts of kindness that I can aspire to the most are by people, who are able to give to others without attaching any expectation to the giving process. This is a hard thing for us humans to do sometimes, because we like to feel validated for our actions. I think of the kids’ birthday parties that I have attended or the ones that my daughter is attending nowadays. I have always preferred the ones, where the parents decided not to open the gifts a kid received in front of the whole group. When we are allowed to hand out presents to others without any expectations or pressures attached, the giving process can become much more fun. As soon as we both forcing the recipients to react to the gift and then in turn are forced to analyze the reaction of the receiver, the kind act of presenting the gift is diluted by many other emotions from either side.
I might also be an anomaly, when it comes to the mandatory “Thank you” card after gift giving. Again, I feel that it can dilute the act of selfless giving. In these cases we attach a value to what was giving and measure it by the reaction and thoughtfulness of the recipient to thank us for it.
Recently, I participated in another challenge, where one of the tasks was to be a “Secret Service Agent”. This meant that you would extend a random act of kindness to someone without them knowing that it came from you. This also allowed to take away the expectation of receiving a certain reaction back from the recipient of the act of kindness. I loved seeing all the different ways, people came up with in showing their kindness to someone else that day. And it seemed to have a much larger impact on everyone to imagine the ripple effect there kindness would take.
This is not to judge anyone about giving without being able to release all expectations from it. I would have to look at myself first, when it comes to this. But when I think of role modeling, this is definitely a way of being that I admire. Any act of kindness that can be done purely out of the goodness of your heart without any expectations attached to it.
I loved the practice of having done so as a “secret service agent” and I have decided to continue this practice on a regular basis. I think it will help me find the beauty in more selfless giving and might help me extend it to areas, where I am not anonymous to the recipient. If I can draw the experience of non-attachment to the giving process for other acts of kindness, I have a feeling it will more easily spread kindness to others. If I see others giving selflessly, it always inspires me to wanting to do the same.