Kindness Defines Us

Aditya RaoAugust 31, 2022Who Am I?Awesome Moments

Artwork by Arina Stetsiuk, age 13

What is kindness really? And who am I? These two seemingly unlinked questions are, in fact, linked.

A few years ago, some kindergarteners told me that kindness is being nice to others. Great philosophers like Aristotle suggest that kindness is when you help someone without expecting anything in return. Ancient Sanskrit texts suggest that kindness is being compassionate and friendly to all living beings — “jīveṣu karuṇā cāpi maitrī teṣu vidhīyatām” (literal translation: “Be compassionate and friendly to all living beings”). With so many interpretations and explanations of the concept of kindness floating around, I started to ponder what kindness means to me.

Today the vast tree of kindness has branched out into many forms, such as kindness to others, kindness to animals, and even kindness to nature! But one of the most important forms is kindness to oneself, which is, ironically, hugely neglected. Kindness defines who we are, as it plays a huge role in our lives. Most of us enjoy the company of kind people and being around them makes us happy.

People who meditate are automatically kind, to themselves and others. Meditation as a practice is growing in popularity exponentially across the globe as more schools are teaching kids about the importance of mental health and mindfulness. If being healthy is synonymous with being kind to ourselves, then meditation is the perfect means for a healthy mind. Research has shown the link between anger management and meditation, and a number of body functions, such as blood pressure levels, are also improved by meditation. It builds our patience, empathy, and tolerance and lowers levels of stress and anxiety. In short, everyone should be kind to themselves and meditate!

One particular day filled with exams, I returned home exceptionally exhausted. I was so worn out that even walking became a herculean task. My eyes began to droop with fatigue as I forced myself to try to study. A few moments later, I impulsively got up and went outside to the fresh air. I sat cross-legged, closed my eyes, and began to meditate. I took a deep breath. Meditation calmed my nerves, and my anxiety vanished.

The following day, I wrote my exam and nearly got full marks. I was pleasantly surprised. Just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes proved much more beneficial than re-reading my notes for the third time. It was my best decision so far. So, from then on, whenever I get stressed or frustrated, I always meditate, as it makes me feel fresh, serene, and rejuvenated.

Learning the importance of mental health has changed my life forever. To me, meditation is the closest one can get to being kind to himself or herself. Kindness brings happiness, peace, and satisfaction to you and anyone who walks the path of compassion. In other words, meditation is, in itself, an embodiment of kindness, as it helps us be more tolerant and patient toward other people by accepting them for their flaws and shortcomings.

The day I decided to meditate, I found out what kindness really means to me. It means to be healthy, both physically and mentally, for the greater good of the community. It means to not compromise on our own happiness and self-esteem. Being kind to yourself affects what you do, how you act, and who you are.

Who am I? I am a kind person — kind to myself.

Aditya Rao is a 16-year-old studying at the Global Schools Foundation, Singapore.