We live in an interconnected world where everything we do affects other things. This is encouraging because it means that when you are kind, you are usually affecting more than the person right in front of you.
I have used the analogy on many occasions that an act of kindness is like a pebble dropped in a pond. Just as the pebble lifts lily pads at the other side of the pond, so an act of kindness lifts the person you help but also many of those connected to that person. As their own spirits are lifted, their behavior towards others is kinder too.
I went to my local co-op this morning to buy some coffee. Knowing that today (November 13th) is World Kindness Day I was on extra alert for opportunities to be kind. I didn’t pass a single person on the way so the only thing left to do was to smile and be extra pleasant to the shop assistant.
It left her with a smile on her face, which she used to greet the very next customer. I smiled to myself as I saw how my tiny little kindness had created a little ripple.
We don’t need to do big things to make a difference. Most of us today won’t be able to change a person’s life. But a smile and some pleasantness is always a good thing. Know that it does make a difference, even if you don’t see it.
In addition to that, take some time to think of some of the ways you could be kind today. Who are the people in your life, from your home to your work, to the other people you interact with? Is there any way that you can help any of them today?
Here’s some of my favourite kindness quotes:
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” HH the Dalai Lama
“We cannot do great things on this earth, only small things with great love.” Mother Theresa
“Go out and serve others and see your depression lift.” Patch Adams
“The dew of compassion is a tear.” Lord Byron
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Buddha
Wired for Kindness
Kindness is natural to us. Being kind to each other is part of who we are, both on a spiritual level and also on a genetic level. ‘Survival of the fittest’ has been misinterpreted for years as the fastest, strongest and most courageous. But the fittest is actually he or she who is better able to help others and to cooperate for the greater good. And we see the effects of this wiring today: Kindness is good for our health.
It boosts the immune system; it impacts the brain in multiple ways, leading to positive feelings and closeness to others; it impacts the cardiovascular system, protecting us from the seeds of heart disease; and it even relaxes the nervous system. These positive ‘side-effects’ exist because kindness is wired in us. It gave our ancient ancestors a healthy edge and was thus selected by nature. Like an angel unfolding its wings, it’s ancient spirit is now spread throughout the 80 trillion cells in our bodies. There is no part of us that does not know who and what we really are.
So to be kind or not to be kind? That is the question! You can make a difference today!
If you want to read up on zillions of pieces of research on kindness, from how it impacts the brain, the immune system, and the heart, to how it makes everyone happier and spreads like a wave, and much, much more, plus over 250 scientific references, I’d recommend, ‘Why Kindness is Good for You’.
Yes, it’s my own book, but I feel that it is one of the best resources out there that collects all the evidence together into a single package.
Copyright 2020 David R. Hamilton PhD.