Excerpt for The Secret to a Happy Life - Practice Kindness by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

THE SECRET TO A HAPPY LIFE

PRACTICE KINDNESS!

By

Stephen Egegbara

http://www.cheeges.com/

This e-book has been written for information purposes only. The author cannot be held responsible for any personal or commercial damage caused by misinterpretation of information. All readers are encouraged to seek professional advice when needed.

THE SECRET TO A HAPPY LIFE.

Copyright 2017 by Stephen Egegbara

“Smashwords Edition”

All rights reserved.





Table of Contents



1 – INTRODUCTION

2 – KINDNESS – WHY DOES IT MATTER?

3 – KINDNESS IS CONTAGIOUS

4 – KINDNESS – THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS

5 – THE SCIENCE OF KINDNESS.

6 – HOW TO CULTIVATE KINDNESS AND COMPASSION?

7 – SIMPLE WAYS TO PRACTICE KINDNESS EVERYDAY

8 – EXAMPLES OF INSPIRING ACTS OF KINDNESS AND COMPASSION

1 – INTRODUCTION

Imagine how this world would be if happiness could be bought from a super mart or the secret recipe to live a happy life would be available at an online store?

You think it would be great?

Not really! The idea is not as fantastic as it sounds, as long as people are meant to share with others whatever they buy for themselves i.e. to be kind.

Kindness is one of the most beautiful emotions and attributes of human beings that sets them apart from other creatures and Mark Twain aptly put into words. He said:

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” 

We all have heard this famous quote gazillion time, and so it is right and necessary to give it a thought.

Is kindness really that important?

Yes, it is!

Despite the fact that people from different parts of the world speak different languages and they may have different values, customs, and cultures, kindness is a universal language that all can speak and understand. It is a sentiment that is born in beautiful hearts and affects everyone regardless of their color, creed, nationality or social standing.

A gesture as little as a smile to someone has the power of offsetting the bad day a person is having. A move as simple and seemingly insignificant as opening a door for someone or wishing good luck can change anyone’s mood and make them feel better and confident. And how can it not?

It seems impossible that you do not feel good after being treated with an unexpected gift of kindness, from a complete stranger without any reason or interest of his own.

The pleasure that ensues instantly becomes visible on your face in the form of a beautiful smile, to say the least, and this is not less than a blessing in today’s world, where there is so much to stress about, where we continuously hurt each other and where everyone is carrying a heavy baggage of burdens on their backs.

So, let’s be human in this cruel world. Let’s be empathetic and forgiving in the pitiless world. Let’s be gentle and sensitive in this ruthless world. Let’s be kind!

Let us be kind;

The way is long and lonely,

And human hearts are asking for this blessing only—

That we be kind.

We cannot know the grief that men may borrow,

We cannot see the souls storm-swept by sorrow,

But love can shine upon the way today, tomorrow—

Let us be kind.

Let us be kind;

This is a wealth that has no measure,

This is of Heaven and earth the highest treasure—

Let us be kind.

A tender word, a smile of love in meeting,

A song of hope and victory to those retreating,

A glimpse of God and brotherhood while life is fleeting—

Let us be kind.

Let us be kind;

Around the world, the tears of time are falling,

And for the loved and lost these human hearts are calling—

Let us be kind.

To age and youth let gracious words be spoken;

Upon the wheel of pain, so many lives are broken,

We live in vain who give no tender token—

Let us be kind.

Let us be kind;

The sunset tints will soon be in the west,

Too late the flowers are laid then on the quiet breast—

Let us be kind.

And when the angel guides have sought and found us,

Their hands shall link the broken ties of earth that bound us,

And Heaven and home shall brighten all around us—

Let us be kind.

—W. Lomax Childress

2 – KINDNESS – WHY DOES IT MATTER?

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind, and the third is to be kind.” ― Henry James

Have you ever wondered why a lot of emphases is being placed on kindness? Does it really worth the hype?

In a world where we are bombarded with negativity, in all its forms, most of the times and where positivity is often pushed to the backseat, we all have been through such times when we question whether kindness really matters or not.

The answer is, yes it does!

Why?

There can be numerous reasons and explanations for this, but the simplest could be because life is a journey we all are embarked upon together. While the route that each of us travel upon, is different, the journey is difficult for everyone. Though the nature may vary, we all face problems and deal with obstacles and challenges, and struggle at various points in our lives. This is what we share and this is what connects human beings with each other.

The journey of life is not easy as it appears, but kindness is an attribute that, if exhibited towards each other regardless of any discrimination, can make this a lot easier.

Small Acts of Kindness Can Make Huge Differences

Loving kindness and compassion are the basis for wise, powerful, sometimes gentle, and sometimes fierce actions that can really make a difference – in our own lives and those of others.

– Sharon Salzberg

Sometimes acts of kindness that appear to be trivial can make huge differences. For example, good luck from you may be all that your friend needed before the presentation, to overcome his/her nervousness.

Telling someone facing hard times that you are there to share his/her burdens or assuring them that they can make it through the tough times can reinstate the faith and give them the courage to face the life’s challenges.

The Story of an Unknown Woman

A woman shared her story on the internet that tells us how small and seemingly insignificant acts of kindness, even from strangers, can leave lasting impacts upon one’s mind and heart.

A woman moved to a new country. While she was still trying to settle at the new place, she was faced with some visa issues and was not allowed to stay there. She was so stressed and taken down by the problems that one day, while she was walking back home, she sat down on the roadside and started crying. A passerby saw her crying and stopped to ask what was the matter and if she was okay?

She was so tensed and worried that she started sharing her problems with the man who she was meeting the first time in her life. The woman saw that the man’s phone started to ring while she was speaking, but he ignored the incoming phone call, put his phone on silent and kept listening to her.

He waited and allowed her to say whatever she wanted and then politely reassured her that things would work out and everything would get better.

The kind behavior of the stranger not only helped the woman regain her lost confidence and faith but also left lasting impacts upon her mind and heart. She was so impressed that the man took out time to listen to the problems of a stranger and even ignored his phone call that could have been urgent or from his family just to reassure a crying lady by the roadside that problems of her life would soon end and she would find a way to get out of all the troubles.

The woman stated that although years have passed since that incident took place, the nice and kind gesture of the stranger man is still ingrained in her mind and heart.

Kindness is the light and the spirit that keeps your inner fire burning, gives you courage and determination to endure hardships, face challenges and make it through the other end of the tunnel to brighten your life.

Kindness has also been proved to be associated with happiness by psychological and scientific studies. (This will be discussed in detail, later in the book).

3 – KINDNESS IS CONTAGIOUS

Yes! Kindness is contagious; just like the laughter and yawn. Once it is displayed or expressed, it travels around.

The smile you have just brought on someone’s face will be passed on to others, the nice gesture you have displayed to a stranger will inspire him to do the same with others, and the helping hand you extended to lighten your friend’s burden will make him help others with their burdens too and thus, the cycle continues.

Research Has Proved It

According to studies conducted by the researchers at Harvard and the University of California, when someone benefits from a kind behavior, he/ she pay it forward to at least one person who was not initially involved in it. Thus, a chain of kindness or a cycle of good deed starts that positively affect numerous lives.

Starbucks Pay It Forward Campaign

A small act of kindness that was displayed by a woman at a Starbucks drive-thru, in 2014, not only initiated a long chain of ‘pay it forward’ there only, but also became an inspiration for many others for a long time to come. Since then, many such chains have been initiated by the inspired people in different areas.

This shows how a small nice act can inspire hundreds and thousands and kick off a whole campaign of kindness.

It would not be wrong to say that kindness is a magic that not only transforms individuals but also the other people around them. If exhibited at a larger scale, it has the potential to transform the world and make it a much better place to live.

4 – KINDNESS – THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS

The secret to lifelong happiness is one of those things human beings have been searching for, from times immemorial.

What is it that keeps some people happy and satisfied with their lives, in spite of all the difficulties and challenges, while others keep on complaining?

What is the secret element that only a few people are able to find while many keep longing for it?

These and many more similar questions have always been asked and investigated. While true happiness depends upon a variety of factors, if it is to be defined by one core element that would be nothing else, but ‘kindness’.

Psychologists and researchers have deeply investigated and studied ‘happiness’ and it is an established fact that positive acts produce positive effects and boost positive behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. This, in turn, improves a person’s health.

Studies have found out that repeated acts of kindness and giving changes the chemical balances in the human brain in such a way that is beneficial for health. Anxiety and depression start to disappear when a person performs acts of kindness, no matter how small. Furthermore, kindness is also found to be associated with the strengthening of immune system and helps in controlling high blood pressure.

The correlation between kindness, health, and happiness is still under investigation and psychologists and researchers have been carrying out studies on different groups of people from varying backgrounds to further validate the claim.

5 – THE SCIENCE OF KINDNESS.

As mentioned in the previous section, the concepts of kindness and happiness are being investigated and studied by the researchers and psychologists alike in order to figure out the science of kindness.

While external factors, such as material wealth do play a huge role in our pleasure and happiness, many studies have found out that much of human satisfaction and happiness come from being nice and kind to others around us.

One such study was conducted by Jennifer Trew and Lynn Alden, Canadian researchers from Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia. They found out that people suffering from social anxiety can benefit from simple acts of kindness.

The study further concluded that kindness greatly improves our perceptions about other people and about the world at large.

As stated by Lynn Alden, kindness is more about a change in attitude; being alert of things you can do for other people and doing them spontaneously because you want to do them. It has a side effect of making you feel good.”1

She further said that human beings are connected with each other with a kind of emotional contagion due to which we feel happy to see others around us contented and happy.

Research studies have also found out that human beings are likely to be more productive, intelligent and creative when you think and feel positive i.e. your brain is positive.

Shawn Achor, an American speaker, author, and researcher known for his research work on happiness and strong support for positive psychology, suggested that retraining the human brain to function in a positive manner can be done by performing random and simple acts of kindness every day for two minutes over a period of 21 days.

These practices and attributes, as proposed by several research studies, have the power to actually transform and improve the quality of our lives by contributing to healthy relationships, job success, better health etc. Exactly opposite to the widely known and believed adage in the Western world that “success leads to happiness”, modern research has found out that it is actually happiness that breeds success.

A large number of studies have been carried out, lately, to study the concepts of kindness, happiness, and success and the relationship between them through different viewpoints.

Director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab and a Professor of Psychology at the Stanford University Jamil Zaki conducted numerous studies, in 2016, to study the contagious effect of kindness. He observed that kindness inspires kindness. According to his finding and observations, he asserted that when people witness others performing acts of kindness, no matter how small they are, they get inspired to do the same.


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