This is a reminder – you are amazing

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted >  At the time of writing this Blog there is an attractive girl standing outside our Tonic offices holding a placard reading ‘free hugs’. In a deluded moment I thought it was a personal invitation, but sadly she was taking part in a Random Act of Kindness event. RAK events now seem all the rage as though young people had suddenly discovered something new. There are regional promotions (RACSOC), national promotions and even societies and global organisations on missions ‘to conquer the world one random act of kindness at a time’.

It is true that even the smallest act of kindness can make the world a brighter, happier place. I particularly like the way that such a small gesture can have a demonstrable impact on someone’s life*. The trouble for us reserved Brits is getting started. When it comes to reaching out to others we don’t score heavily on emotional spontaneity and, in fact, random acts of kindness aren’t really all that random, in that many need planning.

So if you want to give it a try it is probably best to start small. Trying letting someone go ahead of you in the checkout queue, saying ‘thanks’ more often or telling the refuse collector / postman / or whoever what a great job they are doing.  You could then graduate to leaving small bunches of flowers on the doorsteps of elderly neighbours.

But what is sad is that we need to make the effort in the first place. We are living in a me-first society.  We are taught from an early age to ‘look out for No.1’, resulting in us developing self-focused and self-possessed mentality. Evidence of bullying and abuse are everywhere, and all of us are guilty of moral sins such as ignoring a beggar or struggling disabled person, driving past a broken down car, and doing it all without a second thought.

This inward focus is unhealthy, especially as a person wrapped up in themselves makes a very small parcel.

Research confirms that people who perform acts of kindness feel positive emotions. A team of Japanese social scientists report that happy people become happier simply by counting their own acts of kindness towards others for one week, plus they became kinder and more grateful through this subjective counting*.

Women have been shown to respond more positively when observing a kindness act than do men, suggesting that women may be more attuned to kindnesses.

But as with all therapies there can be problems – holding ‘Free Hug’ placards could result in unwelcome acts!  Also if you are determined to become a RAKtivist (the ghastly term for being a RAK Foundation supporter), a one-shot demonstration is unlikely to benefit you. Much better to practice kindness therapy with others in a volunteer organisation, which makes sustaining acts of altruism easier than being a kindness guerrilla working on your own.

All that aside there is no doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed friends can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

So if you want your kindness acts to be the gifts that keep on giving, set out to make concerted rather than random acts.

As for me, at the end of my Tonic shift I’m off to take up the offer of the placard girl. If it is too good to be true – then it must be true!

Footnote > * The warm feeling you get when you see a kind act is known as elevation and is one of the reasons kindness is so contagious. If you want to know more about such altruism therapy and progress beyond basic acts of kindness, you may find the Kindness UK or the GoodDeeds Organisation inspirational.

8 thoughts on “This is a reminder – you are amazing

  1. Freddie M says:

    It is obvious that the way in which our negative interactions affect us. As you say, you see it in the victims of bullying or of abuse. Weare aware of the potential long-term effects on someone who was mistreated even during their very early life. Yet it is often overlooked how important an act of kindness can be to someone who is in need. The sad reality is that we don’t care. There for the grace of God go I.

  2. Carla (Client 77) says:

    I’ll buy into all this. Count me in for concerted acts of kindness, but instead of randomly helping people, I feel confident that by working with others to improve lives I will have a greater impact and also will feel really good.

    • Rose (Huddersfield) says:

      Helping others will make them feel good and will restore their faith in humanity. This in turn will motivate them to help others in need. It is a chain reaction – when you pull one part of it, the whole chain is set in motion. You can never exist in isolation as we all need other people to survive.

  3. Kenton says:

    We would all rather avoid eye contact with the person in need than breakdown invisible barriers and answer the cry for help. We – no I – turn a blind eye to the homeless woman, the beggar, the bereaved, the mentally lost. They are someone else’s problem. However, deep down I concede that an act of kindness on my part can change the life of a person in need. If we stop our frantic lives for a minute just to help another human being we have the potential to not only change the course of that person’s day, but to change their outlook on life (even if only for a short period of time). Every action you take affects the life of someone around you.

    • Mrs T says:

      There’s this widespread belief that you cannot love other people until you love yourself. To a certain extent, this is true, in that, when you care for yourself you are in the best position to care for others. However, you do not have to wait until your self-esteem is healthy to show kindness to others. Your relationship with others is a mutual interplay. You work on yourself so that you can be there for others, and you show compassion towards others as a way to work on yourself. Therefore, when your self-esteem is at rock bottom, it can help to do random acts of kindness.

  4. Zulu-9 says:

    Performing random acts of kindness may make each of us feel good, but working to eradicate local, national, and possibly global issues, such as hunger or homelessness, might feel even better, and help to accomplish sustained good. Do it – you will be rewarded.

  5. Charles Dickens ! says:

    “NO ONE IS USELESS IN THIS WORLD WHO LIGHTENS THE BURDENS OF ANOTHER.”

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