noun the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
I watched the BBC News this morning as Covid 19 rampages through the UK and so many countries creating havoc and misery.
I wept as a nurse spoke about an incident with an elderly gentleman who had become ill. He had self-isolated and while seriously ill had had to leave home after 7 days because he had no food. The nurse found him in his car and took him to hospital, where he later passed away. Why was I so moved by this story? Firstly, I was sad for a man in his seventies who had no one to call or contact for help. I wept for his passing in such sad circumstances. But, I was also moved by the nurse’s story and how she had helped the gentleman and stayed with him in hospital. A stranger helping a stranger in an act of kindness.
There are a range of simple dictionary definitions for kindness but what does being kind or showing kindness to someone really mean? Do we need to risk life and limb, or can we just simply be more caring of those around us whether family, friends or complete strangers?
In Psychology Today, Karen Hall defines kindness as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. She explains how Darwin believed that humans are instinctually caring and sympathetic towards others.
She goes on to say how current research supports the idea that we are a profoundly caring and social species and that being kind is good for us. Science has shown that devoting resources to others, rather than having more and more for yourself, brings about lasting well-being.
Think about the call out by the NHS for volunteers this week and over half a million people have applied. They are not being paid in monetary terms, but they will reap the rewards of an improved sense of self as they do good for others.
There are many different ways to practice kindness.
An act of kindness doesn’t have to be something earth shattering, it can be a kind word, a smile, opening a door, offering a simple thank you. Also consider giving an honest compliment, sending an email thanking someone, helping a neighbour, sharing homemade food, refusing to gossip. These are all acts of kindness. The list is endless, and most don’t cost anything except thought and a little bit of time.
Oh, and don’t forget to be kind to yourself.
How do you show kindness to others? We’d love to hear your ideas and examples.