I recently came across a video of a young boy have his mum stop their car to aid an old lady up the stairs. I got quite sentimental as the young boy wrapped his arms around the lady and helped her, with it ending in a hug. This simple, small act of reaching out is what, I think makes humanity special. Amidst the frequent portrayal of people being malicious, negative and selfish, lies a plethora of hidden acts of compassion, upliftment, giving and sharing.  These very same deeds bring hope and solace during adverse times, enabling us to journey through life with some ease.

Intriguingly enough what prompts individuals to engage in acts of selflessness is Kindness. In its simplest form it is being considerate about another person and engenders compassion, empathy, generosity and motivations to help make the world a better place.

We all are hard wired and have the ability to be kind as this hinges on an evolutionary phenomenon. Kindness is universal and has always been central to human nature, going back to our ancestors. In the hot Savannah practicing kindness led to the creation of bonds of interconnectedness and cooperation which eventually gave rise to a sense of community. Communities allowed and ensured a higher rate of survival than disintegrated bonds or infighting groups.  It exemplifies that the human spirit has always overcome perils, with kindness being at the very core.

I believe we are all born with the potential to be kind; however certain life circumstances and interactions propel us to be self-centred and uncompassionate. Being unkind is learnt either vicariously or through experiences.  Nonetheless we are fortunate to have the capacity to unlearn and relearn. Every day we are presented with countless opportunities where we can practice and learn to be kind. Numerous people equate kindness with large gestures and over the moon undertakings however research has shown the mere act of doing something good for someone whether small or big elicits a feeling of hope and being cared for by the receiver, while no differentiating degree of positive emotion by the person engaging in the deed. No act of kindness is too small and can be any act that can kindle hope in times of despair, help in times of trouble, encouragement in times of dejection and warmth and tenderness in times of darkness. It has the true potential to turn a life around.

Many might ask why we should engage in acts of kindness when it doesn’t serve any tangible benefits. Science shows that acts of kindness provide an emotional win-win for the one engaging in the act and the one receiving it. The person on the receiving end gets help, feels seen and cared for, thus boosting positive emotions. The person engaging in kind acts has a myriad of rewards to benefit like an increase in happiness, lifespan, pleasure, energy due to the release of certain neurotransmitters like Oxytocin and Serotonin, the love and happy hormone and a decrease in pain, stress, depression. Additionally everyone who has experienced the positive effects of kindness is significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This could mean just one kind act can create a domino effect and improve the day of several people. Imagine the benefits we’ve forfeited when we casually choose not to. What an incredible loss!

What I’ve learnt is kindness takes you outside of yourself, gives you purpose and most importantly builds perspective.  Perspective is pivotal as it helps develop empathy and gratitude. This is why I maintain, LIVING KINDNESS – where it embodies your being and becomes an integral part of you.

We may not believe but within us lies the power to make life a little better with just a dollop of kindness. Indeed, there is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up. So remember to BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER.

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