“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu
This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme was ‘Kindness’ and let’s be honest: it couldn’t be more relevant or important right now. Across the world, societal divides seem deeper than ever and the act of othering & shaming those we don’t understand is like a blood sport (and the only one currently on TV).
So – HELL YES, it is time to shine a spotlight on compassion and connection, and to reflect on our impact on the wellbeing of those around us.
As a concept, I’m pretty damn sure we all know what kindness means & have fairly similar ideas of how to be ‘a good person’ – the old ‘Treat others how you wish to be treated’ cliché will always be the Golden Rule. But in reality, we all interpret and enact kindness in so many different ways.
While kindness is instinctual to most, we also require a conscious reminder to be considerate in our actions and words. We can all fall victim to a little slip-up – an enraged curse at a cyclist, or a sly word in a friend’s ear – but it’s like quitting any bad habit: pick yourself up and start again the next day.
Being kind has literally been proven to improve your goddamn health. An act of kindness can boost your serotonin (what I call the ‘warm and fuzzies’), ease anxiety, and even potentially help you live longer.
There’s also no doubt it attracts people to you and helps you have a stronger sense of self. In this current world, it is admirable and courageous to be unapologetically loving.
Let’s not forget the incredible capacity kindness has to improve our communities. Those who face the greatest disadvantages in life are our neighbours, colleagues and friends. By closing the gap between us all we can cultivate a world where less people feel unheard, misunderstood or mistreated.
And hey, there’s no pressure to donate a kidney or Mother Teresa the shit out of your day. Just try making time and space for others in your world, a smile in a queue, a problem shared over a cup of tea, or a phone call (you know your grandad/ma would love to hear from you right now) can change the whole trajectory of someone’s day. As George Elliston wrote, “How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it!”
What I’m saying is: there’s just no need to be a twat. Ultimately, everyone deserves to feel protected, loved and respected – and extending that to others is nothing short of a pure bloody joy. So, let’s start reminding ourselves we can all offer a little more patience and compassion, even (if not especially) in such bizarre & challenging times.
To get a better idea of what kindness means to others I reached out to one of the loveliest communities I know – The Dots – and boy, did they deliver. Read what they said below:
“Kindness is helping people without an ulterior motive.”
“Kindness means being there, listening with compassion, and remembering our shared human experience, our common humanity.”
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Never talk badly about someone behind their back. Never judge a book by its cover & try and leave the world a better place than you found it.”
“Kindness is being yourself, loving yourself and extending that love to others.”
“Kindness is a virus that everyone should spread around.”
“Kindness is the intentional opposite of the world we are forced to live in….. To give without wanting to receive, to care without wanting payment, to love wholeheartedly is THE revolutionary act.”
“Kindness is something I crave.”
For more on Mental Health Awareness Week, visit https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week
#KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
We’d love to hear what being kind means to you, head to our contact page and let us know!