Let me tell you a story of the power of everyday kindness. My friends and I set up a message group early on in the Covid-19 pandemic, so we could ask for help and support when isolating. Fast forward eight months and we still use it to chat, vent, share ideas and ask for help.
One of my friends’ daughters was having a hard time at preschool with all the changes and uncertainty. My friend asked for advice which we duly gave. The next morning I saw her on the school run and she was overwhelmed with gratitude. Another of our friends had been over the night before and snuck a couple of handmade crocheted heart keyrings on her doorstep; one each for her and her three-year-old daughter. So that when the preschooler was at preschool she could look at her heart keyring and be reminded of mummy.
Well, then there were two of us overwhelmed with gratitude and fighting off tears on the school run!
I believe that acts of kindness like this one are happening all over the world. Small, thoughtful acts, that in many cases, are done with no expectation and no reward.
“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.” – David W. Orr
The power of kindness
Happily, kindness is not something that demands hard work. It originates from the simple act of doing no harm to others. In addition, the intention of making a small but meaningful impact on another human being. If you consider simple acts of kindness, for example holding the doors of a train about to leave or listening to someone’s story without interruption or judgement, then the power of kindness is obvious for the recipient: they were in a moment of need and received assistance.
But the power of kindness is also extended to the giver. One major benefit of altruism is that love spreads both ways; it’s a win-win situation.
Unconditional love flows through specific channels of respect, integrity, purpose, meaning, value, response-ability, forgiveness, kindness, and compassion — and these form the foundation of our new, naturally ethical lives,” – Loch Kelly
Kindness is contagious
Have you ever let another road user out into the stream of traffic at a junction? I do it all the time and then I observe them as we all sit in the queue. Almost always, they let someone else out ahead of them. One good turn deserves another as they say. I like to think that the power of kindness can potentially rub off on the people I’ll help out in the future, that they, in turn, will be more likely to assist others. In fact, it turns out that science backs up this kindness ‘ripple effect’.
A 2018 study focused on employees at a Spanish company where workers were asked to either a) perform acts of kindness for colleagues, or b) count the number of kind acts they received from coworkers. The results showed that those who received acts of kindness became happier, demonstrating the value for the receiver. However, there were even greater benefits for the giver. They had a similar trend towards increased happiness, but they also had a boost in life and job satisfaction, as well as a decrease in depression. Furthermore, the colleagues on the receiving end of the acts of kindness ended up spontaneously paying it forward to other colleagues, demonstrating that kindness is contagious.
Now we come towards the end of 2020, a year that, for many, has been extremely difficult. I intend to continue looking for ways to be kind and to spread the love within my own community then watch the power of kindness flow.
I will be sharing ideas for simple acts of kindness over on Instagram as the kindness elves revisit us for the sixth year running, come and see what they’re up to.