With so many of us fawning over the latest iPhone model & brand of designer trousers, it’s easy for us to overlook the significance of the practise of kindness & generosity which, believe it or not, don’t always have to come in the form of a two week all-inclusive holiday to the Bahamas as a gift for somebody’s birthday (although I, for one, would not refuse such a gift if the opportunity represented itself!) I am a firm believer that even the smallest, or seemingly most meaningless acts of kindness can go an extremely long way & have a seismic impact upon another person’s outlook, spirit, day or week.
In my opinion, it all starts with the act of looking beyond a person’s initial appearance or perceived “differences”. It’s a case of accepting that everybody is the same – each of us have lots to offer, have dreams, aspirations & a story to tell.
It’s an inescapable reality that the majority of us live in fear of each other and subsequently, hold ourselves back, refuse to communicate or establish a connection with people we come into contact with & thus restrict ourselves.
This is something I am guilty of, truth be told. More & more recently, I am becoming aware of this:
• Keeping my distance from large groups of loud young people out of fear that I may be ridiculed or victimised in some way
• Choosing not to sit beside somebody I’m unfamiliar with.
• Avoiding eye contact with somebody when walking down the street.
However, in maintaining the mentality that we are all human beings and performing small gestures of kindness, we are able to become less inhibited & frightened of the people around us – we are able to share a piece of ourselves with these people & potentially establish a connection with them.
Such acts of kindness can be as simple as:
• Smiling at people you briefly make eye contact with
• Asking that uncharismatic barista you always see in Starbucks how their day has been
• Holding the door for somebody
• Taking the time to tell a loved one the extent to which you love them.
• Starting a conversation with that person at the bus stop even if it goes no further than the first ten seconds of it.
It is precisely these small acts of kindness that can bring so much colour to a person’s day – which, for all we know, may have been a stress-induced nightmare. A simple smile may be enough to re-inspire and reinvigorate someone who typically passes through each day feeling a lack of recognition or notice. Sometimes, the one thing a people is in need of is a willing listener with an open heart and mind.
If I’m totally honest, I believe the horrific incidents that took place in Orlando to have inspired me to better myself. The incidents truly have awakened & instilled a feeling of urgency in me – to give love & kindness more freely.
Through the daily practise of kindness, we have the ability to progress in our individual journeys as well as contribute to other people’s. As well as casting light upon a dismal day of another person and adding a potential spring to that person’s step, kindness results in feelings of elevation & an increased self-efficacy.
On a biochemical level, the act of kindness & altruism serves to increase levels of dopamine in the brain, thus bringing about the sensations of a “natural high”.
A ripple effect occurs due to the pursuit of kindness, in that when we carry out even a small gesture of kindness, it has the ability to evoke feelings of inspiration in that person to reflect the same kindness in their own actions. Henceforth, although a small action of kindness may be but a stone dropped in the ocean, seemingly obsolete & overlooked, just as a stone causes waves when dropped into the ocean, so does kindness.
Now, as I draw this blog entry to a close, I would like you to reflect upon your individual efforts and willingness to give kindness on a daily basis – even to people you are a stranger to.
Do you find yourself holding back from trying to establish a connection with people you come in contact with? Do you avoid making conversation or simply making eye contact with those you pass by on their street or those you work alongside, day in, day out. What about the opportunities you’ve passed up on to ask a sales clerk how their day has been or simply offering a smile to somebody?
Through a collective contribution & effort in the distribution of kindness, we can cause the world in which we live in to be a kinder, more tolerant, more tranquil, pleasant & connected environment to exist in.