The giving of a kindness requires empathizing with another person’s mental and emotional state and a recognition of their needs and goals. It is an event which takes place in such a brief span of time that there is little time for the conscious mind to think about and analyze these complex interactive moments. Instead what is required is a preexisting set of habits which operate automatically in the giver of the kindness when he encounters a situation where the person about to receive the kindness can accept and use the gift. The time frame for this type of action is in the range of one to five seconds. For a person to be kind requires them to intentionally practice acts of kindness. The popular idea of “random acts of kindness” requires intentional training because the moment when an act of kindness can be given and accepted passes by so quickly.
The Kindness Project is a set of very simple actions which can be learned and practiced as in a classroom training drill. Also, those habits can be made into a public event in the form of a pass-it-on activity. The goal of these simple training activities and their public counterpart is to learn to do spontaneous acts of kindness. Another slightly more advanced level of training is to have situations preplanned by the instructor but unexpected by the student, situations where the student can react with an appropriate act of kindness. Doing these exercises in a training situation makes it possible to do them in real world natural situations because they have become a spontaneous habit. It takes several of these training session practices to be able to do them automatically and quite a few repetitions to get smoothly spontaneous.
These kind actions are helpful to the person receiving them, but they are also helpful to the person giving the kindness. Simultaneously with becoming adept at giving kindness to strangers, one also becomes skillful at giving kindness to oneself. Although the giver is gaining a benefit in giving the kindness to the other person, it can’t be seen as a selfish act because in the immediate action the receiver of the kindness is the sole beneficiary of the act. It is only in the future that the giver can gain a possible benefit from the abstract learning and enhancement of his skill at performing kind acts for his own self.
Receiving of a kindness will be a similarly helpful form of activity, and it needs to be practiced also by the person who seeks to improve their relationship with themselves. To give a kindness is only half of the skill set needed to attain the contentment available to one who can also receive a kindness when it is available. One learns to be skillful at receiving kindness by being exposed to people who are giving kindness. The practice sessions of The Kindness Project for training in giving kindness require a recipient of the kind acts. Thus when in a training session people get to receive as well as give. The recipient of a kindness learns how to integrate the gift into their personal being. When one is skilled at receiving these tiny personal gifts, each of which helps them along their life journey, they are on the path to serene happiness and contentment.
It is as important to be able to receive a kindness as to give one.