Tag: kindness

How We Can Support Gender Equality

butterflyWe’ve learned gender stereotypes from a young age—how females and males are supposed to behave and look; what societal roles and jobs they take; even how they think and feel. When we view someone not as an individual but as a member of their particular gender, and judge them on their ability to live up to those standards, it’s a form of prejudice and discrimination.

Although modern society has become more cognizant and open regarding diversity and individuality, there may be subtle things we do, say, and accept as fact that seem harmless, but are actually damaging to self-esteem and worth. It happens when someone assumes a woman has children or plans to. When it’s assumed a father is the one who works instead of choosing to stay home with the kids. It happens when a woman is expected to be a good consultant for matters of the heart or a man for practical issues. When a woman is expected to help in the kitchen or clean up while a man is expected to be on point with his sports knowledge. It’s most damaging when we stop ourselves from doing something because it goes against our perception of gender expectations.

We might be contributing to gender bias without even realizing it. So what can we do to support gender equality? Awareness is the first step. In your interactions with others, be on the lookout for:

  • Jumping to conclusions about someone based on gender
  • Expecting someone to behave or perform certain tasks because of their gender
  • Shaming or criticizing someone because they didn’t live up to a gender stereotype
  • Rewarding someone because they exemplify their gender stereotype

When someone does or says these things to you, keep in mind that the person may not be aware of their message, or that it is offensive or demeaning. Resist letting their ignorance become a part of you. Know your worth and value as a unique individual. You don’t have to ignore it, laugh it off, or keep it inside. You can say something if you choose. What you say and how you say it is a personal choice. Perhaps you can think of a way ahead of time to respond in such circumstances.

Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, instead of two sets of opposing ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can all be freer.”

~ Emma Watson in a 2014 speech at the United Nations Headquarters

Keep in mind that the macroclimate of our society trickles down into our personal relationships. If your view of gender roles is rigid, it will restrict your ability to be fluid and grow in your relationships.

Let’s be aware of our words and actions. Let’s be kind and respectful to ourselves and others. We are all human beings, and we all matter…equally.


Maya Angelou on Giving

“That day, I learned that I could be a giver by simply bringing a smile to another person. The ensuing years have taught me that a kind word, a vote of support is a charitable gift. I can move over and make another place for someone. I can turn my music up if it pleases, or down if it is annoying. I may never be known as a philanthropist, but I certainly am a lover of mankind, and I will give freely of my resources.” Letters to My Daughter, Maya Angelou

Do we take enough time to really take a look at our life? The beauty in simplicity can be astounding, but in an increasingly complex world, it can be so easy to lose sight of the essence of joy.  We bind ourselves to what we believe we ‘ought to do’ in a way that distracts us from more intrinsic thoughts, from deeper contemplation.

Maya Angelou’s words themselves, are simple, yet too, hold so much power. The message is alive with a glow of love, of deep understanding of the universe and our place in it. There is appreciation, gratitude, and humility— within her words there is a recipe for a more enlightened life, if we’re ready to listen.

What’s most interesting? She immediately begins with ‘giving.’ Her thought, “I could be a giver by simply bringing a smile to another person,” is so incredibly easy that it almost seems de facto, but when we’re so focused on making it through the day, that we don’t allow ourselves to radiate peace, and we likely share our discontent.

As Angelou points out, every interaction that we have with someone is an opportunity to do right by that individual, and when we do, it feels good. We feel good, they feel good, and the world shines a little brighter in that moment. We don’t have to give riches, just resources. A little dash of the abundance of good that lives inside of us that’s ready to be shared.

Imagine over the course of a lifetime, if we continually practiced these ‘free gestures’ of kindness and goodwill; not only do we inspire others, but we become more whole within ourselves, developing that essence of joy, that can only come from giving ourselves to others in a healthy and positive way.

The next time frustration sets in from any of the nuances of day-to-day life, try a smile, or a kind word or gesture. Start small, it may feel uncomfortable at first, but as it becomes second nature, it will be a proud achievement personally, and one that can, most wonderfully, create positive change in everyone else around you.


Why Small Moments Matter

image

Recently, The Intelligent Optimist sat down for a Q&A with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, head of a worldwide network of meditation centers, talking about optimism and fundament goodness—asking one very provocative question for our time: 

TIO: Can fundamental goodness be seen in the face of violence? 

SR: ‘Every moment presents an opportunity to recognize the core of humanity—whether one is a bus driver, the president of a nation, or a murderer. In each instant, we can stop and reflect on who we are and what we are doing with our life. Even in the direst situations, when people are given the opportunity to discover their humanity, the possibility of it coming through can occur. By creating a global culture where humanity itself is respected, rather than simply our own agenda, we create a greater tendency for qualities such as empathy and wisdom to come about. The acts of aggression being experienced all over the world are not isolated occurrences. We all play a part in the health of our global community. We are in this together and we all have the opportunity to shift the degradation of our time to a stronger and brighter future. 

The history of our individual lives is predicated on what happens every second of every day that we’re here. No matter how seemingly inconsequential, our decisions and actions, both conscious and unconscious, determine our path, one we, many times, blindly follow.

We process the journey in situational increments of time; marked by ‘when this happened’ or ‘that happened.’ We live in a limbo of solitary, monumental moments and allow them to define us. After a particular event or occurrence is over, we go back to just breathing, surviving, trying to move along.

Without realizing it, those moments become mile markers on the timeline of our existence on this big, glorious, ubiquitous Earth.  If you put the timeline of your memories onto a map, what would it look like? Peaks and valleys, highs and lows of happiness and hurt, would probably overwhelmingly abound, right? But, think for a second, do you remember everyday situations outside of your self-decided defining moments?

As Rinpoche notes, In each instant, we can stop and reflect on who we are and what we are doing with our life. Even in the direst situations, when people are given the opportunity to discover their humanity, the possibility of it coming through can occur.”

Our own defining moments happen when we are waiting for something else to come along. Paradoxically, what plays out as insignificant periods of time are actually hugely important to us, we just don’t notice or pay attention to them— we’re too focused on our road ahead.

These ‘pit stops,’ however — unselfish moments where we finally look beyond our agenda— are actually the blessings of being part of a collective humanity—one we often forget.

When we experience kindness, compassion or empathy, we begin to realize that human suffering exists as a whole; allowing us to derive strength and support from strangers and friends alike. We try to take the whole drive alone but we simply can’t; we need each other on this journey— when we get lonely, tired or weary, we need to remember that.

So next time you feel like you’re taking a long stretch of the road alone, give a stranger a smile as you’re passing through. You may not be able to fix your own problems that day, but you’ll never know the power you could potentially have on alleviating someone else’s. 

 Allow yourself to find gratitude in small moments, especially the ones where all you feel you’re doing is breathing; there is an opportunity there to do something great. Practicing that, you’ll come to find that time can be transformative, allowing us all to be more aware and blissful on our individual and collective paths— with a rosier view of what’s ahead and a feeling of accomplishment on how far we’ve come. 


Inner Beauty

Finding this quote recently for the 3rd time I was quite inspired again. So, I thought I would share it with you.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.  For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.  As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

…Audrey Hepburn