Let’s start by defining kindness. Google it, and your answer is: ‘the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate’. As a general rule of thumb, that’s not a lot to ask.
Today is officially Random Acts of Kindness Day. A day that reminds us to think of others. But the message from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is to ‘make kindness the norm’. Showing people you care on this pivotal day is just the start of it. It’s about taking these acts and creating lasting habits. The ultimate goal? To make the world a better place. I think we’re all ready for that. More than ready.
We don’t need to wear ourselves out serving others, whilst managing our own busy schedules, to the point of exhaustion. That’s not the idea. This is about reforming our mindsets to open our thoughts beyond the needs of ourselves. And the little things really do count. In Make Someone’s Day, you’ll find some previously written ideas, which will all become relevant again soon.
Many of us have new relationships with our phones. Pre-pandemic, using them to actually call people wasn’t really a thing, despite that being the intended use. Zoom has been a saviour, but we haven’t always felt like ‘putting our face on’. In the absence of a real-life rendezvous, the impromptu phone call is an instant, low-maintenance and extremely underrated form of communication. You don’t have to book it in, choose a venue or even get dressed. In my opinion, this humble activity should live on into our post-lockdown lives. Even when we can see each other, an in-between phone call may help prevent our currently desolate diaries from overspilling into chaos (as appealing as that seems right now). It makes you, and your receiver, feel truly connected.
Having spent the first part of this year in (another) lockdown, it’s not the best time to evaluate how we’re perceived by the outside world. But the time will come when (yes ‘when’, not ‘if’) we can all start going about our daily lives again.
And I’m not talking about what others think of you (that shouldn’t be a priority – ever – or the reason for doing this). I’m referring to the persona you give off. Smiling at passers-by, saying hello to a neighbour, engaging in conversation with people who cross your path, asking how family/friends/colleagues are and genuinely wanting to know the answer. These are positive actions we can all take.
Of course, it’s OK (and completely normal) to have off days, but these simple moments of kindness will become increasingly appreciated as we begin to socialise once again. Let’s embrace the natural human interaction we’ve so terribly missed. It will ignite a spark of energy each time you get a welcome response.
Taking care of yourself is an integral part of this new mindset. Be aware of your own needs. Keep practising your tried and tested ways to switch off and stay present.
You’ll also find that kindness, in itself, is a form of self-care. It gets those happy hormones going and lifts your mood. So, in giving to others, you are inadvertently giving to yourself.
Only do what you feel comfortable with. Do what works for you. It doesn’t have to cost money and it doesn’t have to consume your time. It can be as simple as letting someone go before you in a queue, rather than fighting your way to the shortest line. You’ll find inspiration here.
Naturally, we mirror the emotions of others. If someone smiles, we smile. Watch a sad film, and we cry (unless you’re made of steel). We also act defensively if someone’s angry towards us. Let’s play our part in lifting the spirits of an uncertain nation. Human survival can bring out the best and the worst in us. We can collectively turn things around. Small changes made by many people will have a universal effect.
Businesses and individuals have gone to extreme lengths over the last year to support people in need and help improve the dire situation we’re in. Moving forward, the world shouldn’t have to be in turmoil to bring out human kindness. In the major renovation process that lies ahead, surely kindness should be an integral building block.
Take inspiration from those who have carried out incredible acts of kindness throughout the pandemic and do your bit to make our world that little bit better. What contribution will you make? What does Random Acts of Kindness Day mean to you? How can you make kindness a habit?
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