Killing with Kindness
No, this is not a piece on the oxymoronic concept of so-called humane slaughter. Far from it! This is about killing your fears, limitations and anxiety, with kindness towards others.
Kindness—it’s more than just a word. It’s the action of serving others and bringing them happiness. The amazing thing is that through the grace of showing kindness, our own anxiety naturally fades away. What a relief! Serving others is a great privilege, but anyone can do it, and it can take infinite forms.
The more we practice simple acts of kindness toward other beings, the easier it is to be kinder to ourselves. I see myself sometimes as a good person, but sadly also at times, with harsh self judgment, as a bad person. Like many, I have experienced crippling anxiety and panic attacks over the years. When I can see the truth that I am a decent human being, my anxiety is much more manageable. I put way less pressure on myself and can temper my expectations from the world.
Pain, loneliness, fear—we all experience these feelings in life. Negative thoughts and guilt compound it all and create deep anxiety that prevents us from making decisions and taking actions. That’s why cultivating positive thoughts about ourselves and others can be so helpful. Yoga and self-care are definitely one way to increase positivity, confidence and self worth.
We hopefully all know that warm feeling that comes from helping others, speaking kindly about someone, or serving the needy. If we speak ill of others, blame ourselves or others, or get angry, it just makes us disturbed and uncomfortable. Being kind to others goes a long way, especially when it involves words and actions. When we serve others it becomes all consuming and there is less room in the mind for negative thoughts and doubts. Think about the joy you feel when cooking for a loved one, compared to whipping up something hastily for yourself to eat—plus it tastes better in the end!
This cycle of kindness and happiness is self reinforcing. Kindness attracts and feels good, so the kinder we are, the more people and animals will want to be around us. Through selfless service of feeding street dogs in India and interning at zoos, shelters and sanctuaries, I personally discovered one of my greatest joys in life: connecting with animals. Caring for animals ranging from cougars to house cats, porcupines to rheas (human size birds), I began to notice that not only did the connection with those animal beings bring me bliss and peace of mind, it drastically reduced my anxiety as well. The more I developed a personal practice of animal kindness, the more I started to see myself as a better person, the person I wanted to be.
An easy way to cultivate kindness in our daily life is to adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet. By not participating in the murder and consumption of other conscious beings to nourish ourselves, we are practicing ahimsa or non-violence, i.e. kindness! Helping those who cannot speak for themselves and cultivating a non-harming lifestyle is a way to practice kindness every day. By seeing animals as divine beings and eating vegan, I am able to overcome fears, limitations and anxiety and get to feel more happy and free, simply by promoting the happiness and freedom of others.
Kindness is easy, just give it a try. I encourage you to choose today to find simple acts that move you. With practice you will definitely kill it…with kindness!