There have been many stories in the media about the heartfelt reactions of people all over the world to natural disasters. For me, it is a great reminder that human beings are essentially caring and kind.
It is easy to forget, because we react more strongly to the cruelty or simple thoughtlessness that we experience, and register it in our consciousness more deeply – the unpleasant remark from a work colleague, the partner who doesn’t bother to acknowledge an important anniversary – we have all hurt from these sorts of behaviours.
Yet most of us equally experience simple kindnesses from others – a cup of coffee delivered to the desk when we are busy, a favourite dinner after a hard day at work – and for a moment they lift our spirits. Wouldn’t it be lovely if kindness were the norm – imagine how that would feel, and what a difference it would make to our daily lives! And it isn’t that demanding. Being kind and acknowledging kindness shown to you are simple things to do and pay off for both sides.
To increase the level to which human beings demonstrate their kindness, we need to take two simple actions:
- Every day do one kind act for someone else
- Every time someone does a kindness for you, acknowledge it
It is the small steps that begin the major differences. This sort of behaviour is infectious, and when we decide unilaterally to take these small actions, we find that more people are kind more often, that we increase the number of times we do a small kindness for someone, because it creates a good feeling and is easy.
Let’s not save our kindness for times of great disaster – let’s practise it every day!