Turns Out, Kindness is an Essential Element of Elegance


"Kindness is like snow – It beautifies everything it covers."   – Kahlil Gibran

Someone recently posted the question on Quora: What are the traits of an elegant woman? And, interestingly, the quality of kindness came up again and again. 

Here were some of the interesting answers people gave, which showed that kindness has much to do with elegance:

  • Elegance is when someone has a big heart.
  • When you are kind and respectful to the wait staff at a restaurant, you are elegant.
  • When you choose to be polite rather than rude, you are elegant.
  • She will be kind and generous, but not overly so - not seeking approval or credit.
  • An elegant lady doesn't only introduce herself with a "hello." She also adds, "It's a pleasure to meet you."
  • She is mindful of other people's time and is punctual.
  • An elegant lady offers her help and is considerate to those around her.
  • She stands by other women in their trials and tribulations instead of bringing them down.
  • She gains elegance by her generous deeds.
  • She never backbites but is straightforward.
  • She is never mean to other women.
  • She involves herself in the discussion, never the gossip.
  • She believes in giving.

As varied as they are attractive, these answers are but a fraction of the myriad forms that women feel kindness can take place in. From how we speak to others to our daily actions, vibration, and attitude toward our fellow sentient beings, nature, and mother earth, as well, an elegant woman behaves kindly in addition to all the other things she does that define her. 

In our fast-paced world, benevolence and compassion often end up taking a back seat to self-interest. We are often so wrapped up in our own lives that we fail to notice what's happening around us or with others - let alone do we take the time to stop and be of service, be kind, or be sympathetic. 

An elegant woman is mindful, ever kind, sympathetic, and giving.

And, here's the bonus-- being kind sends benefits right back at you!

Research Shows That Kindness Has a Boomerang Effect

Studies link kindness to an abundance of physical, mental, and emotional perks. For example, researchers have found that when women are kind to others, they produce fewer stress hormones and their "fight or flight" response simmers down. As a result, they are less apt to feel lonely, anxious, or depressed - they are, in effect, happier. 

Being Kind Leads To A Sense Of Control

We all have that person - or those people - who thrust us into psychological binds, leaving us feeling triggered, powerless, and occasionally causing us to question our emotional intelligence. 

Resentment, anger, frustration: Sometimes, no matter what our resolve may be, there are folks who can really push our buttons and threaten our calm. 

At some level, we know that no one else should be able to manipulate or affect our mood, but darned if they don't get us every time!

As my grandmother used to say, "Darling, you've got to kill them with kindness!"

I've developed a practice with specific people like these. I mentally take a step back, observe their behavior with objectivity and say to myself, "Hmm... Isn't that interesting? There they go again." 

Then, I resolve to respond with love, calm, and kindness. 

Another tactic I take with those loved ones who are more challenging in my life is that I limit my time with them. For example, I may set a timer on my watch for a 5-minute phone call. Then, when the time is up, I say, "I love you so much! I've got to go, but it's been so good to talk with you. Let's talk again soon." 

Trust me when I tell you- it works like a charm, and we are all left feeling better for it. 

Kindness is a Soothing Balm For Anxiety 

Social anxiety can sap your confidence, feel crippling, and even be paralyzing. 

Try as we might, making small talk can feel overwhelming, and we get tongue-tied feeling sure we're saying all the wrong things. 

So we withdraw into ourselves and stay quiet.

When I feel like this, I start thinking about how others might be feeling. I consider that they may also be feeling uncomfortable and awkward. I try to ease the situation by asking about their day. Or, I mention something relevant to the goings-on in their current life situation. 

If this sounds easier said than done, you're not wrong about that. 

It can be extra challenging for those of us whose social anxiety sabotages our attempts to be kind and draw others out, thereby drawing ourselves out. 

As they ease into comfort, knowing that you're treating others in the way you'd wish to be treated will help calm your own social discomfort. 

Text your host or hostess to ask what you might bring to the event. 

Depending on the occasion, you can bring a bottle of wine or non-alcoholic delight, a hostess gift like an orchid or houseplant, a charcuterie platter, or a dessert. Will there be Littles present? A quiet game or (non-messy) activity would probably be very much appreciated. 

One of the most significant issues that come with anxiety is a busy brain – when we focus on kindness and giving, we ease our anxiety by allowing our brain to check in to the joy we are bringing to others. 

By centering our attention on someone else's happiness, comfort and wellbeing, we can forget about our discomfort and alleviate anxiety. 

Kindness Stimulates Oxytocin, Which in Turn Does all Kinds of Goodness for Your Body, Mind, and Soul 

Even the smallest amount of kindness toward others can boost your body's natural oxytocin levels. Oxytocin, our brain's feel-good hormone, reduces inflammation. Because inflammation is linked to diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, obesity, and migraines, this little love hormone can go a very long way toward creating a healthier you.  

Oxytocin is also linked to warm, peaceful feelings and has been shown by researchers to lower stress and anxiety. 

Oxytocin can regulate our emotional responses and pro-social behaviors, including trust, empathy, positive memories, processing of bonding cues, and positive communication.

Be Kind, But Not at the Expense of Your Own Wellbeing.

Be kind and giving - but don't overdo it!     

If you find that you're giving too much of yourself or have given beyond your means, it's time to take a step back. 

It's easy to gift away all of your energy, especially if you're having a hard time yourself and want to check out by checking into the needs of others. Leave enough for you – kindness has to start toward self.  

Being of service or being kind doesn't have to cost money or take up too much of your time. Small things like a phone call, a donation of stuff you no longer need or want, or volunteering cost nothing and are priceless in the art of giving. 

The Elegance of Kindness is a Gift to Both You and the World Around You

In the pursuit of a softer, gentler, more loving world, kindness is the most accessible instrument we can reach for. 

Though it is easy to miss opportunities to be kind, our lives are filled with circumstances in which we can be of service, considerate, thoughtful, loving, and friendly to those around us.

The heartwarming, selfless acts of kindness that have the most deeply uplifting effects are often the simplest: a word of praise, a gentle touch, a helping hand, a gesture of courtesy, or a smile. 

When you're on the lookout for ways you can show a little kindness, your world will become filled with them; in turn, your mind, body, and spirit will benefit and your elegance quotient will lift to even higher levels. 

In the School Of Self-Image, we talk about these things and more. Curious about what goes on? Find out more ...


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