Building a community of Kindness

In this extraordinary time of uncertainty, we’ve had to adapt at a rapid rate, even though our world feels like it’s in slow motion as the pandemic pause continues. The type of change we’re facing all over the world with quarantining, physically distancing and wearing masks is unmatched and it can take a toll on us. Nobody has an answer for when the COVID-19 virus will wrap up and the not knowing as well as the changing social norms we’ve had to adjust to can make us feel anxious. In many ways we’re witnessing a different world emerging and in the transition, sometimes we can feel overwhelmed and even powerless.

Wait a minute! We’re not powerless that is unless we believe we are. Let me explain. In the previous blog, I talked about physicist and kindness expert Dr. David Hamilton’s side effects of kindness and how giving and receiving kindness has health benefits like lowering blood pressure and inflammation. He also talks about how kindness positively influences our relationships. It’s important to recognize that how we feel has an impact on our wellbeing. While we are fundamentally resilient, it turns out we flourish when we turn to others for support, whether its family, loved ones or the community we live in.

“Kindness to you is kindness to me and kindness to me is kindness to you.” Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist in Psychology Today

Over the last few decades, researchers have been studying what is now called positive psychology.  It’s the scientific study of the qualities it takes for individuals and communities to thrive. It includes examining how nurturing positive emotions such as joy, appreciation, kindness and love improve our happiness and can have an impact on the wellbeing of others. 

We have to take action to bring out the benefit of these positive forces and the great news is that it’s not difficult. An interesting fact is that kindness, appreciation, love and any expression of them connects us to others whereas judgement separates us. As humans, we’re hardwired for judgement, so we have to work at releasing the hold it has on us and switch to a more relaxed and frankly kinder way of viewing others, if what we want is to feel good in our relationships. 

Whether we’re volunteering at an animal shelter, dropping off some flowers or home baking for someone or listening to a friend share a challenge they’re experiencing, being generous helps us to see our lives as meaningful. We create opportunities to learn about others, increase our self-confidence and have some fun along the way. It can feel uncomfortable if we’re not used to contributing or being kind. It takes moving out of our comfort zone, facing fear, feeling vulnerable or uncertain to create a better result and when we take in in baby steps, it really is work worth doing.

When we give to others and receive with appreciation, we make our bond stronger. I’m sure you’ll agree that pretty much everything we do in life is about relationships, whether it’s at home, at work or in our community; how we operate in those relationships determines how we feel about them.  Just like we take care of our home or office space to make it better, doing the same for our relationships is important too. By making a contribution and operating with kindness, we create purpose and meaning for ourselves. In addition, we influence those around us to take action themselves. We have the power; we can make a difference. If each one of us takes on this responsibility, together we can create a groundswell of good that will help make our world much better. After all a little kindness goes a long way.

Kindness Can Change the World

Doesn’t it fill your heart when you see a person being kind? 

In this turned upside down world, kindness powers us up when we feel disheartened. People are stepping up to serve our most vulnerable, we’re showing appreciation and celebrating the everyday heroes working on our behalf to take care of us and communities are learning the value of having and being good neighbours. It seems kindness is reviving our faith in humanity.

At one time it was thought that human beings were selfish but as scientists unlock more about the complex nature of being human, new conclusions are being reached. While we are very interested in our own survival and success, studies reveal that generosity is in our biology and our evolution.

Before our lives were disrupted by this pandemic, we had a narrower focus on our own needs, our family’s needs and our next right moves toward feeling successful. Along came a major disruption that actually cracked people’s hearts wide open. There’s more empathy in our world than ever and more generosity springing from that empathy. Most people are just doing the right thing by helping others, however they can.

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” —Princess Diana

Dr. David Hamilton a physicist and kindness expert talks about the five side effects of kindness.

1.     It makes us happier as our brain releases chemicals that increase dopamine and we get a good feeling.

2.     Our hearts are healthier. That good feeling produces oxytocin in the brain and the body which increases nitric oxide, reducing blood pressure.

3.      Being kind slows aging; again oxytocin helps reduce inflammation in our cardio vascular system and slows aging.

4.     Being kind and generous makes our relationships better.

5.     Kindness is contagious. According to Dr. Hamilton it has a contagion factor of five; each act of kindness impacts five people.

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” —Scott Adams

If we’ve learned anything in this pandemic pause, it’s that we certainly can’t control world events. What we can control though is how we respond to world events. Perhaps you’ve been quite content in your life in this unusual time or maybe you’ve been feeling anxious or frustrated. Or maybe it’s all of the above. Whatever you feel is just fine and it stands to reason that our feelings are all over the place. So what does this have to do with kindness you may ask?

Well, if you’ve been feeling content and happy during this period, you can share some of that goodness with others through acts of kindness. If you’ve been feeling anxious, a good way to shift that energy is…..you guessed it…by focusing your attention outward on acts of kindness for others. Let me say here that an act of kindness can be a smile, it can be listening to somebody, it can be monetary or it can be sharing your talent as in baking for someone, writing a card or a thoughtful email.

I don’t think there’s been a better opportunity in history than right now to tap into the vision that each one of us can make a difference by being kind. 

I’d like to invite you to become a VIP member of The Secret Kindness Club, where we do acts of kindness every day for others and don’t tell anybody. No further action is required to become a member; initiation begins with your next act of kindness.

Here’s your first challenge. Notice the next three people you encounter and say something kind to them. It can be wishing them a cheerful good day, complimenting them on something they’ve done or something they’re wearing. Notice their smile, thank them for something or acknowledge them by saying hello. Be courageous; make the first move and discover for yourself how your kind acts can help change the world. Welcome to the club!I started a private Facebook group called The Secret Kindness Club, where we can share our acts of kindness and be inspired by others. All you have to do is ask to join.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/191854215475541/?source_id=179385118879498

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