Kindness Role Model

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.

12 thoughts on “Kindness Role Model

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    1. From my point of view, your responses always seem very kind. So if you ever were not kind than I am glad you found a reason to change, as you have clearly found a way to spread your kindness. Thanks!

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  1. Insightful entry! I actually like writing Thank You cards. I know in some occasions, it’s become expected (baby showers, weddings), but I like writing personal notes in them to let the person know how much I appreciated the gesture. I also think you’re somewhat correct on opening the gifts in front of everyone. That seemingly harmless process has made myself give into internal pressures. I want to give gifts – I love doing it. BUT, I pressure myself into giving the most beautiful extravagant gifts – and I am hard on myself when they don’t fit the impossibly high standard. Great entry!

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    1. Thank you. I am completely with you. I love writing personal cards to people, whether those are Thank you’s or other notes. But when the act of love to write them becomes expected, the act of love can become dreadful.

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  2. What a thoughtful post. And I love that you’ve explored it so deeply, figuring out what your true position is and honoring it.

    So many things in our world are transactional and conditional – I give you this, you give me that; I will love/accept/give you something only if… I think every opportunity we take to break these patterns is positive thing. It sounds like that’s what you’re working on, and I congratulate you.

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  3. That’s a very thoughtful post. I’ve always hated opening presents in front of the giver, or vice versa, being expected to watch while they open theirs. The expectation put on either party is so false and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth that you can’t enjoy the gesture just for what it is. It must be a nightmare for parents of young children.
    I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the “random acts of kindness” movement and have not been entirely happy with my own deep down response – and it is to do with being appreciated for what you have done… So your Secret Service Agent approach is one I’m going to be having a go at – and hopefully practice will make it more enjoyable and easy.
    Fil @ Fil’s Songs and Stories

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    1. I do have a younger child and it was those Birthday parties that made me despise the present thing. My daughter would be excited for days, imagining her carefully chosen present bringing joy to the other kid’s life. But when the reaction was not as expected, she would suddenly analyze her capabilities as a gift giver and wanted to forgo the giving process altogether. I think this doesn’t just happen to kids, they are just more likely to voice their emotions and defeat.

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