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Think with kindness. Act with kindness.

There was a time when mental health was not something people mentioned, spoke about or recognised as an important aspect of a person’s life and work.

Thankfully, our society and workplaces are now acknowledging that mental fitness is vital for leaders, managers and everyone in an organisation. Now more than ever. 

On top of this kindness, a characteristic of mental fitness, isn’t something just to be named in the primary school classroom but is to be encouraged in everyone’s life whether they are five or 50.

Kindness as a value is deeper than respect and is active involving generosity and recognition. It is personal, not transactional. 

Like all good things, when human beings recognise the value of such, we think that naming it will make it happen. Sometimes it does for a brief moment, but not in a way that sustains and becomes ‘the way we do things’.

We want to see kindness be something more than a concept to be spoken about; rather a reality in how people are with each other at work every day. 

What is not acknowledged is what gets in the way of kindness. We may wish to be kind to ourselves and others but, let’s be honest, it doesn’t happen as often as it could, or as often as we would like. To be a source of kindness requires a committed purpose to be kind rather than to be driven unconsciously by purposes to protect, control or to prove. 

Acts of kindness, and the care that it springs from, get blocked by our mind with thoughts like, “I have too much to do. I don’t have the time. I’ll look stupid. They will always expect me to do it. I’ll be taken advantage of. If I am kind to myself, I’ll be being selfish, indulgent. Just keep going, don’t stop. Someone else will do it.”

These are the kind of thoughts that make us driven, stressed, isolated, wearing ourselves out and feeling empty and flat. Acting with kindness energises us and connects us, moving us beyond the limitations we impose on ourselves. 

But before we can act with kindness, we need to think with kindness: giving value to ours and others well-being; caring about the quality of our daily life, and not only about getting through the to-do list; recognising that the state of our heart and mind is more important than how much we are getting done. 

Start with your mind. Think kindly and watch remarkable things happen. 

By Pascale Ascher

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