As I was out walking the other morning I came across this bus just parked waiting for all to see and read it’s beautiful message. It was perfect timing as I was thinking about how we are living in a crazy world right now and if you stay plugged in to the media and TV you will be convinced we are set for doom and gloom. I find it even more important than ever to watch how much media I am taking in because I find it easily throws me off center. I would like to think how we are all connected in this world and how we can share, support, give back and care about each other.
Kindness is part of human nature. You can observe very young children who don’t even have words yet express at a very early age sharing, helping, caring about others. Kindness can be as catching as other emotions such as fear and anger. Which way would you prefer to go? In todays world we need even more kindness so our behavior is influenced in that upward spiral rather than our lower selves. I would like to be part of creating happier, more trusting communities, not division and fear. Kindness towards others may be the necessary glue that is needed in our own happiness, families, work, community and society to create a sense of well-being. Pay it forward is a beautiful concept that came to light through the movie of the same name. Using this concept of pay it forward can help in all aspects of society. Building this ‘social capital’ can create connection, trust , energy and joy in our work places and communities. In Wayne Baker and Jane Duttons paper on Exploring Positive Relationships at work it says ” Social Capital is positive if it helps people grow, thrive, and flourish in organizations and thereby achieve their goals in new and better ways. For example, acts of kindness and generosity between two people expand a person’s emotional resources (e.g. joy or gratefulness) and openness to new ideas and influences (Dutton & Heathy, 2003).” Can you think of some ways to pay it forward or do random acts of kindness during your day? These do not have to be big things – even small gestures count in our universe.
Research has shown that doing acts of kindness can lead to greater happiness. In an experiment carried out by the psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky participants were asked to perform five new acts of kindness one day per week or spread it out over the week for a six week period. Those that did it in one day felt an increase in happiness compared to the other control group who didn’t. When we give to others it can increase our endorphins and create a ‘helping high’ which has a long lasting improvement on our emotional well being and decreases our stress levels. When we give to others it can help us to feel good about ourselves and take our minds off our own problems. Volunteering is one way to help our brains to continue to optimally function as we age. Helping others and being kind increases our physical and psychological well-being.
I love the book The Power of Kindness by Pierro Ferrucci. It is one that I read and re-read over and over again. He says,”….kindness in all aspects can become an extraordinary inner adventure that radically changes our way of thinking and being, and moves us briskly along in our personal and spiritual growth.” I recently heard a wonderful story about a herd of elephants in Africa. This herd had one elephant that was born with deformed legs so it was challenging for him. It was thought that he would never survive. The next year when the herd appeared again the smallest elephant was still there. They observed him trying to climb a hill in which each time he tried he slid down until the third time when another elephant came up behind him and gave him a boost. Another taller elephant let food from the highest branches fall to the ground so he could get his fair share. This herd moved slower so he could keep up. This is call Umbutu – a South African term roughly meaning ‘human kindness’ “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.” We are all interconnected and need more umbutu and kindness in the world.
What acts of kindness have you done? How did it make you feel?
Here are some ideas to consider:
- Recognize someone putting effort into something
- Give up your seat on the bus or train
- Compliment someone
- Make someone laugh
- Offer directions
- Cook or bake something for someone
- Offer to help someone with heavy bags, across the street etc.
- Let someone go in front of you on line
- Take the time to really listen to someone
- Call someone who may be alone
- Send a thinking of you card or even text to someone
- Collaborate, connect, enjoy someone
Add your ideas and thoughts. We would love to hear from you.