Kindness Day 2019 - 15 simple ways to be kind
Having a day allocated to kindness (Nov 13th since you ask) may seem questionable at best, or absurd at worst, but with all the turmoil and uncertainty in society and the world right now, it seems to me not just pertinent but necessary for us all to pay attention to the business of kindness. And for each of us do what we can to behave in ways that are as kind - to others and ourselves - as possible.
There are many reasons why it’s cool to be kind (apologies to Nick Lowe for the barstardisation of his lyrics, which, frankly, weren’t actually very kind at all)
It’s good for you
Acting in ways that are kind releases endorphins in your brain that combat anxiety, stress and depression. It gives you a welcome boost of serotonin, the chemical that gives us that gratifying feeling of satisfaction and well-being. Have a look at the lovely little film and all the fab feel-better facts on the website Random Acts of Kindness to see more about how kindness gives you a physical boost.
It extends your life (yes, really)
Studies have also shown that people who regularly offer help to others have a lower risk of dying than those who don’t. Put simply - being kind appears to help you live longer. Who knew.
Then there are the benefits it bestows on whoever might be the recipient, or even just a witness, of your kindness. It seems that not only will they feel the same positive physical effects, but it’s been proven that they’re more likely to behave in kind ways to others. The pass-it-on philosophy turns out to be true.
It makes the world a nicer place
Of course, the best reason for us all to be as kind as possible is the spill-out effect of making our communities, our workplaces, our organisations, our society and our world a much nicer, gentler, more humane place to live. And we all need that right now, don’t we?
So how can you do your bit to be kinder and to spread the consequences of kindness as widely as possible?
One thing to remember is that your acts of kindness don’t need to be big gestures. On the contrary, even the smallest kind action has the same power to spread as a tiny pebble thrown into a large pond. The ripples disperse in all directions.
Here, then, is a not remotely exhaustive list of simple ways you can spread the ripples of kindness around you
Pay someone a compliment. Doesn’t matter if they’re a stranger. If you love their hair, shoes, sense of style, tell them so
Send a friend a random text. Just to say you’re thinking of them.
Pay for someone else’s coffee. Either give the cashier in the shop the money for an extra cup that they can use at their discretion, or simply pay for whatever the next customer has ordered.
Talk to a homeless person. It’s so easy to walk by, but just a couple of minutes conversation can help restore the dignity of a person who really needs it.
Let someone go ahead of you in a queue. Goes against the grain, this one, doesn’t it? But if there’s someone who’s clearly in a hurry, or struggling with, for example, a squirming child, at the supermarket checkout, letting them get through the queue quicker will make their day so much better. Oh, and try this in traffic too. Allowing someone in front of you is a gesture that will improve their journey and your kindness feel-good factor..
Hold the door open for someone. I have absolutely no truck with the PC nonsense that says men shouldn’t hold doors open for women because that’s demeaning for the women. Holding a door open for anyone, whatever sex you and they are, is a simple act of thoughtful kindness that should be appreciated by everyone.
Smile. This has to be absolutely the easiest act of kindness you can bestow on anybody. And just see what happens when you smile at other people. It’s magical!
Say thank you. Whatever anyone has done, for you or even for someone else, thanking them is the very least kindness they deserve. A thank you note is an even lovelier way to show your appreciation. Talking of which..
Leave a note of encouragement, or praise, or for no reason other than to make the recipient smile. You could put your note in a public place for a stranger to find, or somewhere where someone you love will discover it.
Stop and listen. Take the time to sit and listen to someone who needs to talk. You have to be able to fix whatever their issues are, just being there to quietly hear what they have to say will be surprisingly helpful.
Give praise. When you’ve been expertly and helpfully served in a shop or a restaurant, don’t only tell the person serving you that they’ve done a great job, find their manager and let them know too.
Stand up. On public transport, if you see someone who needs your seat more than you do, even if you’re not in a priority seat, let them have it.
Be a good neighbour. Is there someone in your neighbourhood who would welcome a visit and a chat, or who might like their shopping or gardening done.
Make a meal (or a cake) for someone you know would really appreciate it but would never ask.
Volunteer There are so many ways you can help others in need through organisations, charities and services. You don’t have to give a lot of your time, but you’ll get so much in return. This website is a great place to start looking for what might suit you.
Of course I could go on but I’d love to know what you’d add to the list. And to hear your stories about kindness you’ve extended to others or been on the receiving end of.
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