World Kindness Day
So why kindness? In these difficult times it’s not hard to find stories of people helping each other, it’s happening in every village and town, up and down the country. People reaching out to those they love and care about, as well as to people they may not even have known a few months ago.
So why does kindness feel so very good? One obvious part of this is that it helps other people, it makes their life easier and sunnier, and that feels good to them.
So what of the person being kind? It turns out that kindness releases endorphins in our brain, making it a natural painkiller. It stimulates the production of serotonin, a hormone affected by many anti-depressants and which has a part in healing wound and calming us. We also get a hit of oxytocin, that reduces our blood pressure, and enhances feelings of connection and love. It elevates dopamine, giving a high feeling as our pleasure and reward centres light up.
As well as all these lovely chemical effects, being kind raises our self-esteem, and improves our relationships. It brings us closer to others, and to our own self.
So why are we not all kind, all the time? It’s not always the easiest thing, particularly when you feel stressed and under pressure. Fear, anger, pain and other difficult emotions can cause us to curl up a little, to take our resources inwards, and then it is more difficult to flow love and kindness out to others.
If you are finding it hard to be kind just now, this simple exercise might help:
Soften your gaze, as if you were looking while gently smiling, can have profound effects. While looking at someone else, or at your own reflection, remember the newborn child they once were, and the goodness that is common to us all deep-down, and take your compassion from that thought into the present day. Then, ask yourself, what’s good to do? How can I be kind in this moment?
Everyday acts of kindness, small things, make a world of difference. For others it may be getting extra items when out shopping, or mowing next door’s grass, or calling someone you know is alone. For yourself, perhaps taking a few moments to admire a beautiful flower, making yourself a favourite drink or meal, or even enjoying a relaxing bath or shower can be ways of showing yourself some care. The most important thing is finding the ways that work for you, things that you can do with an open heart and a smile on your face.
Who most needs your kindness today?