Nov. 13 was World Kindness Day, a day to do something kind just for the sake of it: buy a coffee for the person behind you, open the door for somebody, give directions when a person is lost, encourage someone who is feeling unsure of themselves.
These relatively simple ideas are powerful and actually benefit you as well as the person receiving the kindness. Rather like gratitude, kindness is a win-win act.
Sadly, kindness is less common in many of today’s children but it isn’t just children who are missing facial expressions, body language cues and tone-of-voice indicators; adults today aren’t immune either.
Professor Sara Konrath of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research blames media for the drop in compassion among children.
For one thing, people today are less inclined to look into each other’s eyes (perhaps a trait of having got too used to a digital age?). This lack of connection can lead to loneliness; humans passing like lonely ships in the night. Yet we are wired for connection. That is of the face-to-face variety, not simply online.
As a child, I helped my mother bake cakes or batches of spaghetti sauce for people in nearby villages who were in need due to illness or a family death. Even now, if I hear of someone in need, my first reaction is ‘what can I cook for them?’
When feeling lonely or unwell, a home-cooked, yummy meal can be just what the doctor ordered.
For those of you that are new to Whistler, and aren’t sure where to go and make new friends, you might enjoy a delicious meal at the Jill Ackhurst Community Welcome Dinner on Thursday (Nov. 21). For $5 you will get a freshly cooked, hot meal created by local chefs, and a chance to meet Whistler locals and other newcomers. Arrive at the Whistler Conference Centre before 5 p.m. as dinner starts at 5 p.m. sharp!
The website www.randomactsofkindness.org has many ways to incorporate kindness into your life. Why not clear a neighbour's driveway of snow, help an elderly neighbour chop wood for winter, make stew for a mother with a new baby, return the shopping cart on the side of the road to the supermarket or pick up a piece of litter you see lying on the ground? These little acts make a big difference to our community and to your own sense of wellbeing.
I loved geography at school but my exuberance led my geography mistress to seriously doubt this. Twenty years after I left school I wrote to my geography teacher saying how inspiring her photographs of volcanoes and mountains were.
I posted the letter and was surprised when, a few weeks later, a letter arrived back saying, “Thank you so much for your kind letter, it made my day.”
Did you enjoy a particular subject at school? Perhaps a teacher made a subject come to life that inspired your current career? Was a person very supportive while you were at school? And have you thanked them?
Kindness is a good habit like any other and it takes practice, but you have to want to be kind for it to work.
I’m not suggesting we all turn into habitual buyers of coffee for strangers! Just maybe once in a while let someone go in front of you if they are in a hurry at the supermarket, perhaps say thank you when someone has made a difference, or hold a door open for someone. It’s a simple way to encourage others and spread kindness and empathy.
Joanna writes for www.actualorganics.com and is grateful that a young lad opened the door for her at the library — thank you!