Someone bumped into me on the train. Someone jumped the queue and pushed in front. Someone said the most idiotic thing in a room of people who didn’t care. Someone drank from my water bottle and I had already written my name on it. This idiot was staring at me and smiling and when I looked back he didn’t stop staring. I have been on hold for 45 minutes waiting to talk to the bank. Someone indicated left and didn’t turn left. A cyclist drove very slowly next to me and blocked me from passing in my car. I ordered a take away and the side of fries didn’t arrive…
Tolerance costs nothing. Kindness is currency and it’s free at the same time.
What if I were to tell you: the person who bumped into you on the train was blind, the person who jumped the queue was buying medicine to reduce their child’s quickly escalating fever, the idiotic thing was spoken by someone who visits a homeless person every day and takes them a meal, the person who drank your water donated half their month’s wages to help a sick relative; the staring person loved your earrings, the bank… Well honestly that is annoying but put it on loudspeaker and do something else instead of holding the phone to your ear, and the person in the car is rubbish at following the satnav and made a mistake and no one was hurt. Anyway, you get the picture.
Since having my first child I have been thinking about qualities I want to teach them. How can I lead by example and add something to this new generation that is growing up in the world? My answer: empathy, kindness and compassion. I can hold my hands up and say I need to learn to do it more. We all do. I wish I was kinder and less selfish and I have decided to try and be.
If there was a crisis and a plea for money tomorrow and everyone in London alone (population nine million) donated 50p then we would raise £4.5million instantly, imagine if it was the whole country? Kindness is the same, if we all donated a few kind gestures a day, and let a few more petty things slide, the world would be better. It can be big or small. No contribution is too little and no gesture too big and by all means allow yourself to enjoy it. Donate your ear, your time, your food and even your money if you want and then after you have, feel good about it! Why not? People think it’s a cliché to want to do good by people but to be honest it wouldn’t be a cliché if the world was saved and no good needed to be done, so the only way we can prevent the cliché is by changing our world.
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I cannot stress how saddened I am by all the animosity and vitriol on the internet. People seem so aggressive and angry with people they don’t even know having differing opinions to them. Why cant we think differently and happily co exist without there needing to be an attack (verbal or physical)? People tell me its too simplistic a view, I am naïve, and the world wouldn’t turn if we didn’t have conflict, why not I say? What could be more wonderful than the simplicity of people considering one another’s feelings, sharing what they have, everyone being housed and clothed and fed and a life without borders of any kind? If that’s naïve and simplistic then maybe I am but it’s what I believe in, and if you don’t agree can we please still be friends?
Kindness comes in many forms and you can spend as much of it as you like without breaking the bank. You can do kind things to help the world, like car pooling, switching the light off when you leave a room, reusing plastic containers, using your own bags in the supermarket, recycling, not littering.
You can be kind to people by listening to someone who lives alone, paying someone a compliment, giving a homeless person a meal or offering them some bedding, asking someone in the street why they are crying and if they need help, giving to food banks (which we should not have to have might I add – a result of a failing system), forgiving people more (maybe that person had a bad day, month or year).
You can be kind on a broader scale if you get addicted to kindness by donating your time to people who would value it, teaching a young person a skill you have, volunteering in another part of the world, offering space you have to a family seeking asylum, giving old things to charity rather than throwing them away.
It doesn’t matter how big or how small what you do is. It’s important you do it. You count, and therefore so do everyone else.
I have a friend who has wonderful parents. Her father goes to a homeless shelter every week to stay the night and helps out and speaks to the people there. Homeless people are made to feel invisible so some acknowledgement is appreciated. Her mother drops tea in to a lady on her street and looks after a boy with Asperger’s several times a week, he’s not a relative, and she just likes his company. They don’t tell you this stuff either they just get on with it because its part of their life. They are my heroes if I’m honest. It doesn’t stop there either, whatever’s needed they always muck in. I hope one day I can be as kind as them and I am going to work towards it.
Just the other day I decided to challenge myself to take my own advice. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know how to start a conversation with someone I didn’t know sitting on the street. But I looked at her and I had my buggy and my shopping, took a deep breath in and I walked over and said, “Hello how are you?” I said to my baby “say hello” and there was a disarming baby wave and grin in the lady’s direction (babies are great ice breakers).
She said, “You are the first person to acknowledge me all day.”
I gave her some water and all the change in my purse and I sat on the floor and we talked to each other and the baby who incidentally probably thought the lady was my friend, children don’t discriminate. Then me being me left and wanted to do more so I am looking now for a sleeping bag with straps to carry so its not cumbersome.
Some people reading this will say “you are rich you should help more and that wasn’t enough” but it’s that precise train of thought that stops anyone doing anything and leads us to the stale mate of inactivity.
My plea is that we all need to start doing something because something is better than nothing, and once you start it becomes addictive. And if you can help in a small way you will feel good and so will they.
I long for a world where people can do as little or as much as they want without judgment from others or within us. Please help me spread an epidemic of kindness today.
HumanKind is HuffPost’s celebration of kindness in which we feature the people who do incredible things for others or the planet. We tell the stories of those who transform lives through small but significant acts, and the people who benefit from their actions.
Find more uplifting stories from HumanKind here, and get involved by telling us about people from across the UK who you think deserve recognition for their kind works. Nominate your kind person or group or email your personal story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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