Kindness needs to be measured somehow if we are to develop ways of increasing kindness. If we can’t measure it, we can’t determine if one method of generating kindness is more successful than some other method. I have been pursuing the idea that, “By cultivating intentional kindness towards others, you develop the habit of being kind to yourself and when you are consistently kind to yourself you become a much happier person. Learn to be kind to your self and you will become a contented being.“
I think of kindness as a special form of helping other people, but it is different from economic transactions of helping others because kindness doesn’t expect any return; it is a one way gift. That doesn’t mean there is no personal benefit, because, as they say, “Kindness is its own reward.” Unfortunately, when stated that way it misses the essential point, and a callow youth will interpret it to mean that giving a kindness is a total loss, because a youth will expect an instantaneous reward and there won’t be one, and so he will consider the statement as the epitome of foolishness. It will be thought of as a statement intended to bring on a smug smirk of youthful super-knowingness.
Kindness is usually thought of as a mild act, but that isn’t the essence of kindness, because the act is appropriate to the need and it is the minimal word or act needed to get the recipient back on their path. If what is needed is a strong word or action to achieve that end, then that is what the appropriate act of kindness would be. There is no defined limit as to how powerful, even violent, that act might be, but usually, just enough is just right. There is no preexisting act that is the appropriate act, because the act is always conditional upon what is needed. The proximate-ultimate goal is to help the other person to live their life more abundantly, both in the moment and in the long run, but to do that you must know the person and what they are seeking and what they are capable of achieving at the moment. Measuring kindness therefore becomes such a unique kind of activity that each act requires a unique ruler, appropriate to the moment, to measure it.
The act of kindness is always in the moment, and then it is gone, gone forever, but the doer of the kindness has performed an intentional action and that is what causes a habit to form in the doer and the habit is becoming a permanent part of the doer’s mind and part of the repertoire of his internalized habits. The recipient of the kind act doesn’t receive the habit formation of the intentional act and thus his part of the gift is singular; it is what it is, it is nothing more and can never be repeated. It is not part of the recipient’s mind, full of habits, and can never become a habit. The doer has a greater gift because he now has a habit of kindness; at least he has the first manifestation of the new kind habit, and it only takes a few more intentional manifestations of it to become part of the permanent habitual part of his mind.
To be consciously kind is the revelation and it is the path to contentment.