What it means to be kind

I’ll begin with a little about who I am and what I do. My name is Zamangwanya Mfubu born and bred in a small town called Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. I currently reside in Cape Town and I’m one of the members of an NGO called Mind Matters. We deal with Mental Health issues. I’m a Health Counsellor for the South African Medical Research Council and I work with the community of Gugulethu where I assist in the evaluation of a retention to care intervention among patients attending a Cape Town HIV health clinic.

 For most of my life, 10+ years to be precise, I had no purpose, no belief in myself as a human being. I’d had more jobs than I could count and more knock-backs than I ever wanted to remember. But, from a young age I’d always known my mission was to make help people – It’s the only thing that ever mattered to me and I guess it also goes with my character. I consider myself to be a very friendly and understanding person and a good listener, hence my career choice.

I dreamed of a life like this, but never thought in a million years it would happen. I believed I was the “loser” I’d always been told I was. Once I started believing in myself the progression has been incredible! Really, I pinch myself sometimes when I think about what I’ve done, even with the challenges I’ve faced. I’ve managed to meet some of the coolest people on earth doing incredible work, which constantly inspires me to be the greatest possible version of myself.

For me, kindness has not only changed my life, it’s also saved it. Three years ago I was depressed, alone, thinking my life was worthless and constantly looking down on how great I am. This changed the day I started receiving affirmations from the people around me and the world. My clients used to send me messages thanking me for assisting them with whatever issues they were facing and those little things made me so happy. I finally began to feel fulfilled.

I believe the world needs more kindness, but also, we need to be kind to ourselves. It’s the thing we struggle with the most, yet it’s the most important part of our lives because our lives actually depend on it. During a recent interview I had, I was asked how I measure the impact of all the kindness I put out into the world. My answer was simple you can’t, you can’t measure the impact of a kind act because its reach is far greater than we can imagine, and it’s more impactful than we ever dare to dream.

There are different ways to practice kindness. One way to be kind is to open your eyes and be active when you see people in need. A sense of community is created when people are kind to those who need help.

Opening your eyes means noticing when others are suffering. A kind word, a smile, opening a door, or helping carry a heavy load can all be acts of kindness. Celebrating someone you love, giving honest compliments, sending an email thanking someone, telling someone how s/he is special to you.

Kindness is also about telling the truth in a gentle way when doing so that it is helpful to the other person. Receiving accurate feedback in a loving and caring way is an important part of a trusted relationship. The courage to give and receive truthful feedback is a key component of growth and flexible thinking.

Kindness includes being kind to yourself aswell. Do you treat yourself kindly? Do you speak gently and kindly to yourself and take good care of yourself?

Negativity breeds negativity. Think about the people you have around you. Do they lift you up or bring you down? If someone tells you every time you meet them how beautiful you look, you will feel beautiful. If someone tells you how bad you look, you’ll feel bad. Be very selective about the repetitive voices you surround yourself with because they have a lasting impact.

There are many ways to be kind and many opportunities to practice. Perhaps kindness is a value that could add more satisfaction to and strengthen your relationships.

In a nutshell. Be positive. Be passionate. Be bold. Be kind.

“Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 18-24 May 2020. The theme this year is kindness.

“Why kindness? One thing that we have seen all over the world is that kindness is prevailing in uncertain times.”  

Find out more here