A blog about Kindness

Kindness is one of my core values.  

My others, if you’re curious, are Optimism and Grit.  Of course, there are loads of other values that I hold dear, but those three form a foundation for me; a triangular anchor to steady my ship in a storm or provide me with the momentum to get on with stuff.

I’m writing this on a Monday morning in September.  It was foggy and distinctly autumn first thing.  And it’s like that mistiness has decided to linger in my head for a while. However, just that momentary reminder of kindness, optimism and grit has lifted my internal fog a bit.  Words are powerful things!

I’ll write about why optimism and grit feature so prominently in my value system another time, but today, I want to muse on kindness.

I often say to my kids that ultimately being a good, successful, thriving person is all about being kind.  It might not make you the most financially rich, it might not make you successful as the definition goes in our capitalist world, but it will make you happier.

We talk a lot these days about self care and being kind to ourselves.  That is so important.  But in terms of neurological benefits, being kind to others is where the happy points are at.  

All the happy hormones: endorphins, serotonin and oxytocin are all boosted by acts of kindness to others. Which reduces your stress & cortisol levels, increases your capacity to love and gives you a ‘helper’s high’. How brilliant, right?

I’ve also been delving into current thinking around negativity bias.  The National Science Foundation reckons an average person has 12000 to 60000 thoughts per day and 80% of those are negative.  Bringing more kindness in can shift that pattern, increase the happy hormones and put you in a more positive place.

I’ve consciously been focusing on how to be kind more often, both in little random acts and also big sweeping gestures.  Throughout September, I’ve been raising funds for Alopecia UK and talking about how living with alopecia areata works for me.  That is an act of kindness because I’m genuinely doing it to help others.  It’s really scary putting my story out there and flashing my baldy bits on my head to all and sundry.  But feels like a really worthwhile act of kindness as I’ve already been contacted by fellow sufferers who found my blog useful to them.  That’s totally brilliant.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to be investing a little time in planning some acts of kindness through the winter.  I love giving gifts and I seriously love Christmas, so a little planning ahead could mean some nice handmade gifts for people.  Not everyone appreciates such things, but I know the friends and family who would be really touched to receive a gift that I have put time and care into creating.

I also am taking the effort to notice little moments where a tiny act of kindness might make someone else’s day a little lighter.  I’ve always been one for smiling and saying hello to people as I walk by.  That ramped up in Lockdown and my youngest son once asked me why I did it.  I explained that there was a chance that the person I was saying hello to might not speak to anyone else that day, so me acknowledging them and giving them a smile might put a little bit of a spring in their step.  Might not of course.  I might be terrifying innocent strangers with my overt happiness!  I definitely unnerve people when I’m down in London on the tube… yes, I am one of those nutters who makes eye contact and smiles.

What could be your kindness action plan for this Autumn?

If you’re stuck for ideas there’s a whole wealth of them at the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

And here’s a little list from the top of my head:

    :: Hold a door open for someone
    :: If you admire something about someone, tell them!
    :: Tell those you love most why you love them
    :: Let someone go first or move out of their way to let them pass
    :: Give a small gift to someone who could do with a wee boost
    :: Bake someone a cake
    :: Offer to help… carry a bag, help a buggy down the steps
    :: Donate to charity
    :: Volunteer a bit of time to a good cause
    :: Remember your local food bank when you’re shopping
    :: Water your plants... maybe even have a chat with them
    :: If hugging is your thing, hug more.  Hug longer.  We’ve been without hugs too much recently

And remember... being kind to others boosts all those happy hormones.  You'll be healthier, happier and probably live longer.  And you get to see a smile on other people's faces, created by you.  WIN!