Today (Feb 17) is Random Acts of Kindness Day. Kindness, it costs nothing so why is it we’re all guilty of not doing more kind, giving acts on a daily basis? Like a muscle, the spirit of kindness grows when it is exercised. Use it to grow it, ignore it and it goes into atrophy. If you need more compelling reasons why it’s cool to be kind, think of it along these lines.
Kindness Doesn’t Require A Reason
Remember when you were a kid and you were praised for being nice to the awkward new kid? When did we stop performing involuntary acts of kindness and devolved into a society of disconnected individuals frightened to help someone in need. In the end, we all leave this world alone, so why not make it a better, more connected one, while we’re still alive?
Kindness and Happiness Go Hand In Hand
Want to be happier in life? Start by being kind. Whatever action you take– big (volunteering to teach underprivileged kids) or small (holding open the door) – it’ll be a win-win for everyone. For you, the act of goodwill delivers a shot of dopamine to the brain (hello helper’s high), for the receiving party, you’ve quite likely brightened their day, maybe even their month or year.
Kindness Can Foster A Spirit of Compassion
Look around you, look at the newspaper headlines about potential international conflicts, mass shootings, school bullying. As Monica Lewinsky delivered in her TED talk on ‘The Price of Shame’, there’s a “need to return to a long-held value of compassion – compassion and empathy”. There’s never been a better time to commit to exercising random acts of kindness on a daily basis.
Kindness Changes The World
As Maya Angelou quipped: ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ Her statement is the perfect illustration why we could all do with treating each other with a little more kindness, patience and understanding. While healthy boundaries should be maintained, who would turn away from being on the receiving end of a kind gesture?
Kindness Makes You Less Lazy
It’s all fine to think kind thoughts but to perform an act of kindess requires concrete action on your part. Being truly kind thus “trains” you to be an individual of action and not just words. It’s not enough to promise to be more loving and kind to your partner, you actually have to do it, even if it means biting your tongue during a disagreement.
To be kind, do this…
Pause before you speak:
Words can hurt and they can cause real damage when hurled in a fit of anger. So the next time you find yourself debating/disagreeing with someone, take a step back, breathe and speak with careful intention and a calm mind.
Ask “how can I help you”:
Know someone who’s moving house, or just going through a hard time? Offer to do something for them. And follow through on it, whatever they ask (within reason). Sometimes, all it takes is a small act of kindness to brighten someone’s day.
Pay it forward:
Buy a coffee for the person behind you, give the old tissue seller extra money for your packet, don’t dodge the flag collectors, in fact give generously and watch the domino effect take place.
Say something positive to everyone you meet for a day:
Finding the bright side of life is challenging but it’s also life-changing – for you and the other party. Who knows it might just transform someone’s negative state of mind into something positive.
Spend time with an ageing family member:
Getting old can be tough, let your elderly loved one know they’re special to you. Whether you treat your elderly aunt to a spot of high tea or go over to show off your latest travel photos, they’ll love just being in your company.
This tip is easier said than done, especially if someone makes an unkind comment. Instead of reacting, let the individual express themselves, once they’re done, ask what compels his/her comments and really listen without inserting your own opinion. At the end of it, you’ll be surprised how the conversation might conclude when someone feels they’re being heard.
Give to those in need:
Just as there’s always someone richer than you, there’s always someone more in need. The gift doesn’t have to be monetary, it can be extending an opportunity to someone deserving, going out of your way for someone or just giving up your place in the taxi queue to someone who’s in a rush.