In our efforts to discover the best research on the art and science of kindness, Stay Kind’s Jane Hutcheon spoke with the CEO and Founder of the Quest for Life Foundation Petrea King, in a virtual Stay Kind Conversation.
Here are five take-aways from their conversation:
Collectively, we’ve hit a low:
What a lot of people don’t understand when you’re going through a traumatic experience such as the fires, the floods, COVID, the isolation, failure of business, having to close business, worried about staff, all kinds of issues that people have had over the last year or more is that you never deal with the emotions when you’re actually going through the trauma. And the emotional reaction to the trauma always happens weeks, months, and sometimes years after the traumatic event. And a lot of people don’t understand that. And that’s why it’s about now, in the middle of this year, that we’re about to bump into a lot of exhaustion in the community, a sense of feeling flat, maybe a lot of people questioning, who am I? What am I doing on the planet? Am I living the life I came here to live? If not, why not? What am I going to do about it?
We need to replenish:
We need to be present. We need to ask ourselves, what are the environments, the activities, the things that I do or that I have in my life where I feel deeply at peace, where I feel a sense of connection to myself. And those are things like being in nature, singing, dancing, going for walks along the beach, being in, on, under, near water, the night sky. When we put all of these activities up, it’s obvious. These are all the things that we love to do because we’re in the present moment…particularly when we’re in a crisis, we’re running around giving out from what can become a half empty or a three-quarter empty bucket. And if we’re always giving out from an empty bucket, then we begin to resent what we’re giving to everyone else.
The kindness of a stranger:
I was shown incredible kindness many years ago when I was a very distraught young 33-year-old. My diagnosis of leukemia had just been given. I visited Assisi in Italy, where this elderly priest appeared beside me and showed me incredible kindness. I think he said I could stay in this monastery. Anyway, I unpacked and stayed for several months. And there was a little cave in this monastery where St. Francis used to retreat to. And so, he gave that great kindness to a complete stranger and he cooked for me and cared for me for several months. And when I came back to Australia and had all the blood tests and I was in a remission that was unexpected. So, I was given great kindness at that time. And I think when someone expresses such kindness to you as a stranger, then we all have a desire after we’ve gone through our own suffering that we pass it on in some way. If we can pay it forward in some way, then that gives small meaning to our own suffering.
Embrace the roller-coaster:
Maybe it would do us good to know that life’s a bit of a roller coaster ride and we’ve got no idea what’s over the crest or around the corner. And so, if we had a seatbelt (and a seatbelt is the sure knowledge of how to care for ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually), so that when the roller coaster swings to the left, we can adapt to the changing circumstance. And I think we all need to do that right now on the planet because we have entered a time of great change. And we need to learn, how are we going to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances? How do we become truly agile, in an inner sense where our equilibrium is firm so that we can discern moment by moment how to respond to changing circumstances?
How do we create kinder compassionate communities?
So much of it comes down to simple kindness. Being kind to ourselves, being kind to one another, being kind to the creatures on the planet and being kind to the Earth itself. That if we lived with a little more respect and awe, wonder, it’s pretty extraordinary that we’re all alive and living and breathing on this planet…And if we could live with that sense of presence; the presence of wonder, the presence of awe that to even be alive is extraordinary.