Taking Stock of Kindness: 20 Questions to Ask Yourself

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kindness

Are you as kind as you think you are?

How much does kindness matter?

Do you actually take a stand for what you believe in?

Do you put yourself out there to do good?

These are questions I ask myself and my friends, in part, because we share more hassles and heartaches than anything else.

We can find ourselves complaining about fellow humans, the political scene, and world affairs. Our attention immediately goes to the negative and we can feel upset or helpless. And what a downer that is.

The right questions

Maybe we aren’t asking each other the right questions.

When my children were little they loved to play “20 Questions” on long road trips.

It’s a guessing game where you have to figure out what one person has conjured up. The others go around asking for up to 20 hints: “Is it a place? Is it an object? Is it an animal? Is it dead or alive?”

In a similar way, what if we provoke each other with questions about the most recent kindness you gave or received?

What if we asked questions about living a meaningful life?

How would our interactions shift?

What if the one thing you resolve to do is to not allow the complaints and daily hassles to overshadow life’s little joys and pleasures.

Instead, let’s pause long enough to take in the good, consider how kindness shows up in our lives, and take the time to reflect on the very things that lift us up.

Here are twenty questions of the heart to dig deeper into kindness:

The sort of questions that ask you to dig deeper and deeper.

You can spark a conversation with others on your next road trip or pick one to journal by yourself.kindness matters

What act or gesture of kindness did I do recently?

  1. What is one thing I can do today that will stretch my heart a bit wider?
  2. What does a meaningful life mean to me?
  3. If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I do?
  4. What if my biggest fear came true? Then what?
  5. What would I regret not doing at least once in my life?
  6. What would I die for?
  7. What am I most proud of?
  8. How would my friends describe me?
  9. Who is one person I can always count on?
  10. If I could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
  11. What am I grateful for?
  12. What is one habit I want to break, and what is one habit I want to create?
  13. What does “god” or “spirit” mean to me?
  14. How do I feel when I look up at a starry night?
  15. What does nature mean to me?
  16. What are my biggest lessons in life?
  17. What legacy do I want to create?
  18. What does it mean to be enough?
  19. When was the last time I said “I love you” to those I care about? To myself?

Why do these kinds of questions matter?

For one, energy follows attention. How you feel, your vibe, frequency, your emotional radar will move up or down the negative-positive scale, so be intentional.

What we focus on grows so it takes some effort to focus on what’s good to override our innate tendency to scan for threats. This actually has a scientific name: the negativity bias.

Second, you can change your neurophysiology.

By focusing on what is good and meaningful, an upswell of positive emotion ensues.

The more we have these micro-moments of good juju, the more they take root deep in our physiology.

Over time, these positivity boosts change the neural structure in the brain.

That’s because new connections in your brain are being formed in every moment and through every interaction you have.

This is what neuroscientists call experience-based neuroplasticity.

The more you expose yourself to negative or harmful influences or habits, the more they stick. In the same way, the more you expose yourself to positive things and habits, the more beneficial and healing experiences stick.

And there is a scientific name for the upside, too: it is called positive neuroplasticity training! In other words, what you choose to focus on and practice will grow stronger. These become lasting inner resources and you build resilience from the inside out.

This means you can influence your own brain on a very deep, cellular level on purpose.

You can grow a kinder mind.

Consider the next date night, cocktail party, Facetime chat, or carpool. What questions will you ask?

Tara Cousineau

Tara Cousineau

Tara Cousineau, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, meditation teacher, well-being researcher, and social entrepreneur. She has received numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovative Research program and is affiliated with the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion at Cambridge Health Alliance in Somerville, MA. Learn more about her new book, THE KINDNESS CURE (February 2018, New Harbinger Press) and check out her Kindness Quotientquiz.
Tara Cousineau

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