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.