World Kindness Day 13th November 2023
Kindness is a gift we can give again and again that costs nothing and benefits everybody, including the giver.
When we meet kindness in our lives, whether a grand gesture or a simple act of generosity, it can positively impact our day and even stay with us for a lifetime. Many of us will have or have heard a story beginning: “I’ll always remember when…” followed by a recollection of the kindness of a stranger restoring their faith in humanity.
Let’s take the opportunity of World Kindness Day to go out of our way to be kind.
Kindness Is Worth the Effort
It’s easy to be impatient and thoughtless when we’re busy or have things on our minds. We might not have room in our thoughts for how others around us are feeling. But taking a moment to consider someone else can have great positive repercussions for ourselves as well as the receiver of our kindness. Not only will we feel a sense of having done a good thing, but kindness is also scientifically proven to be beneficial to our bodies!
When we are kind, we release the hormone oxytocin which:
- Dilates our blood vessels allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach all areas of our bodies.
- Reduces blood pressure which is beneficial to our heart.
- Decreases activity in the amygdala, where our ‘fight or flight’ signals come from, making us feel calmer.
- Boosts our immune system, helping us fight off illness.
People Aren’t Always Kind to Us
As much as it is rewarding to give and receive kindness, it can hurt when someone is rude or unkind to us. We can choose how we respond in these situations though and once again; kindness is the way forward.
We can’t know what other people are going through. They may have just received terrible news, have had the most frustrating morning or be suffering chronic pain. They may be finding it hard to just get through the day, struggling with the simplest of jobs, at the end of their tether, unable to cope. The rudest and most difficult people could be the ones most in need of and most grateful of a kind word or deed. Even if they don’t know it yet.
Making allowances, having grace and giving people the benefit of the doubt, are a kindness. In moments such as these, when a person experiencing a very low point in life receives a simple kindness from a stranger, a lasting difference can be made.
Be Open to Your Kind Response
It may not always seem to be the case but, in general, our instinct to one another is to be kind. Before judgement, irritation, our own emotions or agenda take over, there is an impulse to help, to care, to be kind. If we allow ourselves to recognise that instinct, if we let ourselves experience compassion, we can act on it and be of benefit to others as well as ourselves.
Maybe it can feel intimidating to step forward and become an object of attention by being kind and helpful. Be brave! Step up. The reward of having done something to help someone will be worth it. The kindness will ripple through your day and fill you with a sensation of satisfaction and gratitude.
What Is an Act Of Kindness?
An act of kindness can be anything you do or say that goes out of your way to be beneficial to someone else. Something you didn’t need to do but you did just to be kind. Letting someone go ahead of you because they’re clearly in greater need or just because you can, calling a friend because you know they had a hard day or for no reason at all, bringing a cup of tea to your partner, giving a neighbour a thank you card for looking after the cat, looking after a neighbour’s cat…
Kindness Creates Community.
Humans are innately social creatures, we need to belong to a community in order to thrive. The way we used to live before national and global travel became so easy for many of us, was in close-knit communities. We knew our neighbours because people generally lived in the same area or even the same house their whole lives. We helped each other out.
The way societies are organised these days can isolate and divide us; we live knowing none of our neighbours and we move often. But we can overcome the boundaries of our individual homes and nuclear units to find connection with other people around us in our daily lives.
Building a community is done by many individuals being kind to one another. A sort of collective kindness. Regardless of age, race, background, gender etc. we all need human kindness in our lives.
We can build community wherever we live, one smile and one kind gesture at a time.
Ask yourself these questions to help you to participate in World Kindness Day today:
- Who in my community would benefit most from an act of kindness today?
- What skills do I have that I could share to improve someone’s life today?
- How can I be of benefit to my community today?
- What do I have that I don’t need that I could donate to someone else or to a charity that will benefit from it more than I will?
- Who could I call that would be cheered up by hearing a friendly voice today?
- Could I volunteer my time for a good cause today?
- Could I sign up to give blood today?
- What talents and experience do I have that could be of benefit to someone in my community today?
And here are 15 suggestions of ways you can be kind;
- Write a positive review online.
- Put your change in the tips jar at the cafe.
- Pay it forward. Buy a coffee for someone who can’t afford one by asking the staff to put money aside.
- Send a postcard to someone you haven’t seen for a long time.
- Phone a family member who you don’t often talk to.
- Donate to a food bank.
- Give someone a compliment.
- Say thank you to someone in your community that you appreciate.
- Smile at the bus driver.
- Do someone a favour.
- Put your phone away while with your friends or family.
- Light a candle to remember a lost loved one and talk about them.
- Make someone a cup of tea just the way they like it.
- Smile at someone who looks like they need it
- And last but not least… remember to also be kind to yourself.
Happy World Kindness Day everybody.