Published in Best Self Magazine 26 Jan ’17 as ‘4-simple-acts-of-kindness’ Article
Estimated Reading time: 5 mins.
It’s not that difficult to be kind and put others first before our needs and wants. We just get wound up in the story of our ego and its “what’s in it for me?” attitude to life. Don’t beat yourself up over this, but instead commit to being kinder this year. It does take effort at the beginning to retrain your mind to show kindness and compassion, but it’s worth it! Now, for some people who have to spend the majority of their time at home—for one reason or another (ill-health, carer responsibilities, homeworkers and so on)—the idea of spreading kindness can seem pretty daunting. What if you hardly see anyone during the course of a week? What if you have a mental or physical disability and can’t get out and about as much as you’d like? What if you are so painfully shy that interaction with others is terrifying?
Acts of Kindness appear often in the media. They can range from an individual starting a campaign to raise funds for someone in need, to whole communities coming together to protect their local shop etc. These acts of kindness are amazing in themselves and can bring about almost immediate change for the better. Never underestimate the power of the small acts of kindness however, for these too can have hugely positive effects on the world around us. Every one of us—regardless of any limitations we may have—is capable of many small acts of kindness every day. Here are 3 things you can do today from home:
1. Send a message to someone via social media (text, email, facebook, skype etc).
One of my favourite messages is to write about what has made you smile that day and then ask the same question: “What’s made you smile today?” The replies you receive will also make you smile and it has the added benefit that the recipient will feel that someone cares. If you’re not able to connect with others via social media, then why not start a Happiness Journal at home, listing in it anything that has made you smile on a particular day. You could record this orally if you have difficulties with writing. This is a brilliant act of kindness to yourself as you will then be able to use this resource to cheer yourself up on a day when you are feeling low. When you read through some of the entries, you will be reminded that life is mostly good and happy and fun and that today—this low mood—will pass.
2. Do a media audit. By this I mean asking yourself if the programmes you watch or the news that you read are bringing you joy. If the answer is No, then stop watching/reading them and replace your media with something else more positive. This act of kindness will have a dramatic effect on your mental and emotional health, and this will filter through to your relationships with others. You will be more positive, more understanding, kinder. Think about a small child who is repeatedly told: “You’re a waste of space. You’re hopeless. You’ll never amount to anything!” That child is going to grow up with a pessimistic opinion of him/herself. S/he will believe these repetitive statements to be the truth. Why not immerse yourself in positive media instead. It’s not burying your head in the sand. It’s simply choosing to focus on the positive.
3. Greet any visitor to your home by looking them in the eyes. The eyes are the windows to the soul. The eyes are just as involved in smiling as the mouth is! We have become so used to going about our business, not interacting with others and certainly not looking them in the eye! When did this happen? It reinforces this feeling we have of ‘separateness’ from others. Yet, we are not separate – we are all interconnected on Earth. Once we realise this, and that everything we do impacts on others, then life becomes simpler, kinder, more compassionate to others needs.
Extracted from ‘Acts of Kindness from your Armchair’ by Anita Neilson, to be published Nov 2017.