Kindness 2013: the power of confidence in yourself

I thought I would wrap this series up with a few thoughts about what, to me, makes kindness possible on an every day basis.

MJWright2011I mentioned a couple of weeks back that one of the reasons why people forget kindness is that they wrap their sense of self-identity around something – often a goal or status. When somebody else intrudes on that – achieves ‘their’ ambition, or tips one of their sacred cows – the rules of common etiquette and courtesy seem to be lifted. Kindness disappears amidst a sudden frenzy of avenging anger.

It’s a pitfall into which humanity seem to keep plunging. Is there a way around it? Sure. One answer, it seems to me, is in being quietly self-confident.

I don’t mean arrogant, or hubris-laden, or self-entitled. These are, of themselves, roads away from kindness. I mean, quietly , modestly self-confident. Feeling secure in yourself. To me, modest self-confidence means:

1. Accepting mistakes – and figuring out how to not repeat ‘em. ‘Sure, I stuffed up. But I know better for next time’.

2. Being prepared to learn.

3. Being secure in your own beliefs, meaning that you are not threatened by the beliefs of others.

4. Humility. There is a difference between arrogant self-entitlement and self-confidence. Self-confident people, in general, seldom indulge in exercises of ego and power over others. No need; they feel secure enough in their own sense of identity.

It’s not always an easy pathway. I think western society, in particular, leans against it. I think the human condition, in general, carries aspects that lean against it. But I think quiet self-confidence – based on humility, acceptance and tolerance  – also fosters kindness.

And hey – at the end of the day, it all boils down to one thing. Being nice to people isn’t hard. Often it costs nothing – a simple smile, holding a door open. Little things count as much as the big gestures. And the rewards never stop.

What do you figure?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Coming up later this week: more writing tips. And a new series – the funny side of real science. Starting with UFO’s. Good for a laugh? Oh yes.

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8 comments on “Kindness 2013: the power of confidence in yourself

  1. Spot on Matt. I do think that your four points develop over time. I am much calmer and confident now than I was, say fifteen or twenty years ago. Sure, I was raised to be kind and considerate. However, it has taken years of real life trial and error to truly understand their importance.

    • I agree. I was just reflecting on a similar thought a few weeks back when I was lunching wirh some friends – we’d been brought up in the same provincial town, had much the same upbringing, mostly gone to school together, and now – as (cough cough) early fifty-something adults- were living in the capital. And had got, somehow, rather genuine in our ability to hold and live by good values that we’d always known very well but, somehow, hadn’t really grasped in their full extent until later. Life experience definitely counts.

  2. Your words are very true. It is hard to accept and love others, if we don’t first accept and love ourselves. That self-acceptance shines through as confidence in its truest form, and from that place a well of kindness springs. The smallest gestures of kindness are often the most meaningful (and appreciated). You are right. The cost is nothing to us and the reward is huge. ;-)

  3. Eagle Tech says:

    Thanks for writing this up. It’s true that we can get caught up in our ambition and forget about the important things in life. Kindness to others being one of them. A really good-quality beer being another, but I digress. I think a lot comes down to “mindfulness.” Being aware of your own affect upon the world. Contributing to it’s betterment one action at a time. If people paid more attention to this, rather than focusing on why world isn’t giving them enough, we’d all be better off.

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