The Simple Secret to An Extraordinary Life

Nourish Kindness

An extraordinary life doesn’t result from worldly achievement, the fulfillment of your own passions or fleeting ecstatic experiences.  If you reflect deeply, you’ll see each of these is a temporary state of affairs.

What might look extraordinary from the outside – like incredible financial wealth – may actually be wracked with internal pain and sorrow.  An impressive job title or higher rung on the corporate ladder can be snatched away in a moment, especially in these financially unstable times.  Of course, it’s wonderful if you can follow your passion, but is it healthy to think obsessively about yourself?

Kindness:  The Powerful Alternative for an Extraordinary Life

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” ― Desmond Tutu

I believe kindness lies at the heart of an extraordinary life.  Kindness is a powerful alternative to the get ahead philosophy of life, which won’t matter much when death arrives.

Take a moment to recall a time when kindness shifted your mood, transformed your day or even turned your life around.  See how powerful it is?  I’m always amazed by how a loving smile is instantly reflected back as though the other person can’t help themselves.

An extraordinary person employs the magic and power of kindness to create goodness wherever they go.  It’s the goodness of all these tiny moments that add up to an extraordinary life.

Kindness still matters even when the impact of your good heart is not obvious, immediate or even appreciated.  That’s because kindness helps to train your own mind in goodness, which ultimately brings you more comfort and ease regardless of how the other person responds.

Be Wisely Selfish

The Dalai Lama always says to be “wisely selfish” instead of narrow-mindedly selfish by practicing kindness.  Kindness is wisely selfish because it helps you as much or more than the person who receives your positive intention.

Look at all the ways kindness can benefit you:

  • Kindness makes you more likable.  Who gravitates toward grumpy, negative or angry people?
  • Kindness helps you solve problems by making you more open to different ideas and perspectives.
  • Kindness can lead to a better future because you’re creating a positive tendency.
  • Kindness contributes to your own happiness when you see how you’ve helped someone else.
  • Kindness is more likely to contribute to your good health than anger, anxiety or low self-esteem.
  • Kindness can raise your self-esteem when you see that you can actually make a difference for someone else.
  • Kindness makes the world a better place.  Who wants to live in a world torn apart by greed and aggression?

That doesn’t mean our kindness should be strategic or selfishly motivated.  It simply shows that kindness makes sense if we want to lead a happy and meaningful life and have the same wish for others as well.

Kindness:  Don’t Be Neurotic About It!

Yes, sometimes kindness can be neurotic and get you all tied up in knots.  So let’s be clear that kindness isn’t:

  • Martyrdom.
  • Trying to please others for you own benefit.
  • Acting out of obligation.
  • Neurotically driving yourself to meet other people’s expectations.
  • Pushing yourself, your ideas or your approach on others.

When you practice kindness, always start where you are.  Don’t prematurely stretch yourself thin or you’ll burnout and start to retract.

While the rare person has the capacity to give their life for another, most of us have to start small.  So know your current capacity when it comes to kindness and act accordingly.  Then, gently expand it, each time just giving a bit more.

Ultimately, let kindness flow from the wisdom of your heart.

Simple Ways to Manifest Kindness

“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” ― George Sand

I know you’re already a good person, but sometimes kindness gets lost in the shuffle of a busy life.  So this is just a reminder of the many enjoyable ways you can manifest kindness:

  • Expressing love
  • Showing appreciation
  • Listening
  • Paying attention
  • Smiling
  • Giving a gift
  • Offering a compliment
  • Rolling up your sleeves to help
  • Gratitude
  • Being tolerant
  • Seeking to understand instead of judge
  • Sharing generously
  • Encouraging peace and harmony
  • Donating to a charity
  • Praising another person
  • Rejoicing in a friend’s success

Inevitably, you’ll feel good too.

Kindness Takes Practice

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ― Dalai Lama

Kindness takes practice because we’re used to focusing upon and worrying about our own little life.  But one of the wonders of kindness is that it can put your own worries into perspective and may even momentarily dissolve them.

So make a commitment and a specific plan to help you practice kindness more and more.  Sketch out simple acts of kindness each week for a month.  For example, try smiling at others as much as possible for a whole week.  Then make a point of giving compliments for a week.  Decide to really listen when other people speak the next week.  Give to a charity the next week.

Kindness is the medicine we all urgently need.  So don’t hesitate for a moment, get out there and spread kindness as much as you can.

You’ll have no need for possessions or fame as your body dissolves at the end of your life. All the experiences you’ve collected will also fade away.  What really matters at that defining moment will be how you’ve led your life and the state of your mind.  Fill it now with kindness and you’ll have no regrets.

What do you think?  Is kindness as essential as I suggest?


I’m glad you’re here and thank you so much for sharing my posts.  If you’re new, please consider subscribing for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra


Image:  © Sue Alexander

26 thoughts on “The Simple Secret to An Extraordinary Life

  1. Great post, Sandra! YES! Kindness is as essential as you suggest. I think it makes us all feel less estranged from one another and I even think that it gives us hope. I read a story once about someone who was kind to a stranger and actually saved that person from taking her own life. It can be THAT powerful! The best way to turn a bad day around is to be kind to someone else. It helps both the giver and the receiver! I am a big time smiler (can’t seem to help myself!) and sometimes I get a smile back and sometimes not. Doesn’t matter to me—-I just say a prayer for them and ask God to bless them. People are shy, scared, distracted, whatever—-and I-pods don’t help much! But I will smile and usually say “Hi” anyway :) Thanks for the beautiful reminder <3

    • That’s a powerful story of how kindness saved someone’s life, Jean. I bet there are zillions of stories like that because kindness is so powerful.

      You have a beautiful way of taking your kindness further by saying a prayer for a person who doesn’t smile back. You’re so right – there are so many distractions going on in life. I’m always amazed when I see people sitting on the beach or rocks in a beautiful place with their smart phone. Sometimes, I know it’s necessary but many times it’s just a habit that keeps us disconnected from the moment.

      You’re so welcome!

  2. Kindness is essential, just like honest communication, sharing and knowing how to work together respectfully. You are not understating the importance of kindness at all. I wish to see a world in which it is practiced more frequently, but that perhaps just takes a simple change of location. Thank you for your thoughtful words!

    • Interesting! I think it’s true that location makes a difference. In Hawaii many people have slowed down and there is the spirit of aloha that exists here. And, I agree it would be wonderful if we could infuse the whole world with kindness.

  3. Hi Sandra,

    Your kindness pervades all around us, in the form of your words…each time, I read your article I can absorb that spirit. Thank you so much for strengthening these essential values.
    I know kindness is like a balm that soothes our pain and helps us see its significance in life. I agree with you that kindness is not pushed or acted…if it doesn’t flow spontaneously, it is not kindness. When we give a patient ear to somebody who needs help or we offer our unconditional assistance, it fills our own heart too with calmness…it is an inexplicable feeling!

    Thanks for sharing another fantastic thought! I am trying to catch up with your articles I missed due to unavoidable circumstances.

    • Hi Balroop,

      I’ve been thinking of you! Thanks for joining us today. You’ve really brought out an essential point – the way kindness brings an inexplicable feeling that’s really special indeed.

      I agree that our aim is to allow kindness to flow spontaneously. But, since we’re not there yet, I think it’s OK to use methods and reminders and practice kindness until it because our default response.

      Life happens and I know we’re all busy. I’m glad you’re here today!

  4. I agree that kindness is essential. And I also believe that it is wonderful to turn kindness inward as well – so many heart-centered people forget to be as kind to themselves as they are to others. To me, kindness is an expression of love and gratitude; a very potent and powerful energy. There is so much talk about ‘being the change’; choosing to be genuinely kind is choosing to be the change.

    • I’m so glad you mentioned being kind to our self too! I so agree. It can start to flow naturally when we respect all of life including us too! Yes, let’s choose to be the change. I know we’ll trip up sometimes, but just having that aspiration is powerful. So glad to hear your thoughts.

  5. Thanks for this. It is often hard to do the kind thing when you feel someone else has been unkind. I guess kindness is taking ourselves out of the equation. Often this is tough.

    • Hi Nicole, You’re so welcome. Yes, that is really tough and I’m going to write about that next month. That’s why loving kindness takes training. Usually, we start with ourselves and then extend our love to people who are close to us, then those who are neutral, and finally to those who are enemies. It’s a long term training.

      And, it is based on understanding how reality works (at least from a Buddhist perspective). No one is ever unkind in a vacuum, interdependent causes and conditions come together as a result of everyone involved not just one individual. So that might be a leap for people who aren’t use to looking at the world that way! But once you accept this view of reality then kindness is the only sensible action. But, it doesn’t mean being a door mat or accepting violence and aggression.

      Thanks, Nicole. I was just looking at your lovely website recently. I love admiring it. :)

  6. In this busyness of the world, a lot of things go out of the window, Sandra, so it’s always a good reminder to be kind to others! It’s the most natural things for us as babies but the ways of our world turn us into impatient, busy, ladder-climbing, freeway speeding, get the first parking spot kind of individuals. So, we have to be more conscious and be inspired (and reminded) to be more kind. We love kind people – we just have to be a light of kindness that floods over others. Kind of like a floodlight:) but turned on during the daylight hours as well:)

    • This is such a good point, Vishnu > We love kind people. Isn’t that so true. So naturally why wouldn’t we want to be kind like that. It’s just deciding to develop the kindness muscle. I love the image of a floodlight.

  7. I love what you wrote about letting the wisdom of our heart lead us. YES! The heart always knows… always. It knows how to act, when to act, with whom to act, etc. Brilliant!

    I’ve been contemplating this idea a lot lately, too: “…the get ahead philosophy of life…” Ingrained in many of us since birth, what would happen if we all decided that right in this moment we had everything we needed and that striving for more was unnecessary? I believe the wisdom of the heart would concur that, indeed, it’s true.

    May we all be blessed in the giving and receiving of kindness!

    • Megan,

      That’s the best, isn’t it – when kindness flows from the wisdom of our heart! I believe we do have all that we need within us. Of course, we need the basics of food, water, clothing and housing and not everyone has access to those. But when our simple needs are taken care it’s easy to see that all the true richness lies within.

    • Yes, I think so too, Vidya. Yet many people miss this all the time because modern life is so demanding or their own problems seems so huge. Hopefully, we can inspire them!

  8. Hi Sandra,
    Thanks for a great reminder.
    We certainly need a good dose of kindness,all of us.
    I believe we can do a lot through small touches here and there in our everyday lives…
    We bring confidence to others by staying true to our word, lending a helping hand in need, doing something selflessly-beyond your call of duty.
    They say everyone needs at least four “hugs” a day to survive and eight hugs a day to grow. “Hugs” are selfless acts which cost you nothing. You can smile at someone, you can open the door for someone, you can allow the speeding car to overtake you. You can help the old lady cross the street, you can pick up a fallen packet and replace it on the rack in the supermarket.
    The beauty is; hugs are best given without expecting reward or applause. Even when no one is looking.
    Thanks
    Mona

    • Hi Mona,

      I love that saying from Virginia Satir! That’s a great little kindness plan in itself! And, I think you are so right that however we express kindness it’s best done without expecting rewards. Thanks for adding your specific ideas for expressing kindness. The more the better!

  9. Just love this article Sandra…it speaks to me on so many levels. The practice of kindness in our daily life is such a joyful one that it’s surprising that it isn’t an effortless way of being for everyone. Your idea of having a specific plan for kindness is great because it brings the awareness right to the forefront. Big hugs for this one. :-)

    • These are terrific points and I agree wholeheartedly. When we see the joy that kindness brings, would we ever want to go back? Some people might not like the idea of a plan because they would like kindness to be spontaneous. But, that’s the whole idea of the plan. Through training ourselves with a plan, kindness does because our natural response. I’m so glad you like that part and the whole piece

  10. What a beautiful reminder of such a simple truth. I totally agree. It really is the sum of the moments of kindness expressed that are the heart of an extraordinary life. A lesson so easily lost in the crazy busy life so many of us are caught up in… Thanks for these wonderful thoughts.

    • I’m so glad my post spoke to you, Lori. I like how you hit summed it up as the “sum of the moments of kindness expressed that are the heart of an extraordinary life.” I think we all need reminder in these crazy, busy times. You’re very welcome.

  11. Sandra I think this is the essential element for humanity that is often thrown out, forgotten or cast aside….the violence and meanness with which we see so much now is because kindness is not practiced enough…fabulous post to help us all keep kindness front and center and where we go to first when we interact with others.

    • Love this Donna > kindness is the “essential element for humanity.” It’s so true, isn’t it! Without kindness we’re hardly human. Yes, if we could only go first to kindness it would makes such a big difference in the world. But, we do have to make a point of keeping kindness foremost in our mind. Thank you for adding this perspective, Donna.

  12. Hello Sandra,

    I’ve been saving this post to read because I loved the headline and you delivered the goods too. Kindness as the secret to living an extraordinary life was totally unexpected but it makes sense. Nothing feels as good as making someone else feel good and it’s often so easy to achieve as well because so many of us are starved of love and attention so a kind word or small compliment can easily boost someone’s mood.

  13. Hi Annabel,

    Gosh, I hope I wasn’t bad by teasing with the headline. Glad I delivered the goods. :)

    This is such a sad but true point – many of us are so starved of love and attention that it’s quite easy to boost someone’s mood. And, the great thing is that you can feel good while you’re doing it too!

    Thank you!

Comments are closed.