“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle”
On checking the mailbox last weekend, I discovered a note from our neighbour. It was an invitation to join them for drinks at 6 pm on Monday evening. The instructions were quite specific.
“Please come out of your home at 5.45 pm with a drink and stand at the end of your driveway. At 6 pm we will all wave.”
Hmm, I thought. I wonder who will turn up?
At 5.50 my husband was chivvying me to finish what I was doing and to get on the driveway. ‘Come on’ he said, ‘we’re late.’
As we walked out of the house, we could see many of our other neighbours already out in their driveways, chatting and laughing.
We shared our hellos and smiles at a distance and raised a toast to our collaborative good health. Then at 6 pm the wave began. Looking up and down the street there was a sea of arms happily waving in solidarity. A coming together brought about by one kind thought of how to stay connected while living in voluntary self-isolation.
Despite the barrage of doom and gloom and scary images of people on ventilators and health care workers gowned up in white suits, what I’ve noticed recently has been a huge surge in human kindness and compassion. Have you seen this too?
A new contagion of kindness
We’re looking out for each other in ways not witnessed for a very long time. We’re checking in the elderly and vulnerable in the community. We’re digging in deep to help out with donations to Foodbank and showing a willingness to contribute to the greater good and complying with the request to stay home because that act of kindness works to keep others safe.
Whether singing to each other from our balconies (as in Italy), enjoying a virtual workout with Joe Wicks from the UK, saying thank you to the harassed person at the supermarket check-out or sharing a toilet roll with a friend in need, sharing that moment of kindness does us all a power of good.
The superpower of kindness
At a time when our mental and physical health is paramount, being kind to each other has been shown by the research to:
- Lower blood pressure and stress
- Ease anxiety
- Boost your feel-good hormones; dopamine and serotonin so you feel happier
- Elevate oxytocin the hormone released in the presence of those we trust and feel comfortable with increasing your sense of belonging.
- Lower levels of inflammation in the body which helps to keep us healthy
There you go – being kind does us good AND keeps us healthy
Kindness makes us better humans
Kindness is not namby-pamby or a sign of weakness.
In his address at the funeral of Congressman Elijah Cummings’ in 2019, Barack Obama eloquently expressed how kindness adds to our strengths.
“Being a strong man includes being kind.
There’s nothing weak about kindness and compassion.
There’s nothing weak about looking out for others.
There’s nothing weak about being honourable.
You’re not a sucker for having integrity and treating others with respect.”
Kindness is an innate human strength that brings out the best in us.
Contributing to the kindness pandemic
If ever there could be a silver lining from Covid-19, it is kindness. We are being kinder, more generous and coming together to create a brighter, happier, healthier future. It’s giving us hope and raising optimism.
During our self-isolation, partners and families are coming together, enjoying time together and having deeper, more meaningful conversations. It has led to an outpouring of help for the elderly and those most vulnerable in our communities. We are seeking ways to give as well as coming up with new and imaginative solutions to help life and our circumstances that little bit better.
Kindness is making us more tolerant and patient. And because it is contagious, witnessing the kindness of strangers or reports of celebrities helping out like Elon Musk donating ventilators free of charge to countries around the world or China sending healthcare workers to help in Italy makes us kinder too.
Ways to practice kindness
Random acts of kindness
Seek out the opportunity. Set the intention to be kind every day. Your prosocial act of buying the person behind you a coffee will start a chain of altruism. Stand back to let the elderly person doing their shopping go in front of you at the checkout or donate your packet of pasta to the mum with a family to feed.
Share kind deeds and words online
A funny GIF, heartwarming act or uplifting quote can put a smile on another person’s face and perhaps yours as well.
Be kind to yourself as well as to others
It’s tough for everyone at present, including you. This is the time to step back from the hustle and bustle and give yourself permission to breathe, to take in the good around, to savour a warm sunny afternoon.
It was Aesop who said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.” How will you choose to be kinder to yourself and others?