"If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete." ~Jack Kornfield
We have all heard about random acts of kindness. We've probably all -- at some point or another -- been a giver or a receiver of these little, big and sometimes life-changing moments.
The simple act of doing thoughtful, unexpected good deeds for others can fill us with joy. And when someone reaches out, out of the blue to touch us in some way, it's something we rarely forget.
No matter what end of the act of kindness you are on, they are usually moments filled with ease, grace and love.
Acts of kindness come to us naturally, without effort or much thought. An opportunity presents itself and we act swiftly and whole-heartedly. We don't think; we just do.
Recently a friend confided to me that she needs more time for herself. She has a demanding schedule and kids she cares for so I understand why it 's difficult for her to find time alone. It's more than that, though. In listening to her, I realized she isn't being kind and giving herself the simple joys she's craving.
I thought of how she often extends generosity towards me -- a cup of coffee, a listening ear, a meal shared.
I wondered -- what if now and then she surprised herself with a random act of kindness -- for herself?
What if now and then we all gave ourselves a random act of self-love?
I'm not talking about spoiling ourselves, giving in to our every whim or over-indulging. I'm referring to being honest with ourselves. So often we put our needs and wishes on the backburner and neglect our desires because we're afraid to authentically acknowledge them.
Giving to ourselves should be a regular part of our lives. While some of us are better at this than others, for many of us, this idea feels absurd. We worry how it may look, what others may think or we feel guilty. We worry we are being selfish or that others will perceive our actions as self-absorbed.
But there's nothing wrong with giving to ourselves.
We must recognize there's a difference between being selfish and simply being in tune to our needs. Selfish acts of living are not the same as self-loving acts of being. When we are in tune to our needs, our wants, our big dreams and our silly, frivolous pleasures, we feel more joyful, more positive and more fulfilled.
That's a wonderful thing.
There's another benefit to tending to ourselves first, though. When we are energized and content it's easier for us to care for others and give in a loving spirit. The energy we extend to ourselves and to the world is constantly being reflected back on us. This means when we love ourselves, without terms or conditions, the door opens for others to do the same.
Loving ourselves in a natural, non-selfish way attracts more love, more happiness and more opportunities to spread love to those around us.
Of course there are substantial ways we can care for ourselves. Maybe the way you show love to yourself is by setting aside time every day that is only for you. Maybe you take a vacation as often as possible.
But random acts of self-love can more commonly be found in the little, day-to-day moments when you don't think, you just do. Maybe that means treating yourself to your favorite meal, reading with a cup of tea, making the time for an invigorating work-out, or simply extending the same kindness, love and forgiveness to yourself that you so readily give to others.
It's the little pleasures and the little acts of love that can add up to more satisfying, happier, positive-filled days. You wouldn't think twice about doing it for someone else, so don't think, question or doubt your intentions for yourself.
Continue to give random acts of kindness for others throughout your days. But while you are doing that, don't forget to give a random act of self-love to yourself.
Except, try not to make it random. Try to make acts of self-love a habit.
In doing so, random acts of self-love, like acts of kindness, will eventually come to you naturally, without effort or much thought.