Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and love is in the air, I’m a bit of bar humbug when it comes to Valentines, feeling it’s all just too commercial (but still reserving the right to be slightly put out if I don’t get a card!). More inspiring to me is Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Day which is on the 17th February. Of course, we could say that there should be no need for this and that everyday should be filled with this virtue, but we know that we all let the important stuff slip in the whirlwind we live in.
We can show kindness in so many ways and the smallest gesture can mean so much to someone. It is so easy to carry on, head down in pursuit of whatever we are pursuing but the benefit for everyone (including ourselves) of stopping and being kind is huge and infectious.
Random Acts of Kindness Day encourages us to choose an act, be they community or work based, individual, random or even digital! They don’t have to cost money, after all sometimes the best things in life are free! Here are three simple but none the less perfect ideas from their website (which includes a workplace kindness calendar);
1/ Help someone finish their work before a tight deadline.
2/ Buy a coffee for the person behind you in the queue.
3/ Call and chat to someone that you think might be lonely.
Obviously, we are all constrained by time, money and other things but even a smile to a stranger or holding the door for someone is lovely and can create that warm fuzzy feeling inside! According to Mark Twain, ‘kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see’. In an age of technological connectivity, we are said to be the loneliest we have ever been. We need human interaction. The humanity shown at times of national shock or horror, just show the power of this quality. And makes you wonder why it doesn’t persist.
We also have to remember to be kind to ourselves, to go against the modern-day obsession of self-flagellation and look after our own wellbeing. However, this does not have to be at the expense of goodwill to others. Gestures of friendliness or helpfulness to others can be good for us too. Performing at act of kindness produces oxytocin, the love hormone which helps to lower blood pressure; it also produces endorphins which help to alleviate pain; and serotonin the ‘feel good hormone’ helping to reduce anxiety; it can increase feelings of self-worth and according to RAK, ’Perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and age slower than the average population!
Promoting workplace kindness seems to me to be a great goal to have and if you need further convincing just think of the positive impact it could have on morale, staff cohesion and productivity.
Some say kindness is diminishing as communities become more divided and people live more separate lives, the suggestion being that there’s an element of ‘Survival of the fittest’, not engaging in your community or helping a fellow human. To me this is crazy! What a bleak and lonely place our world would be if this was the popular view. Apparently, Darwin actually suggested something more along the lines of ‘Survival of the nicest’-the idea being that communities in which the species were most sympathetic would flourish best. And of course, it makes perfect sense-we are stronger together. Kindness can and should transcend all religions, cultures and differences and I’m sure we’d all agree we need that now.
Random Act of Kindness Day strives to make kindness a greater part of everyone’s day and this seems much more important to me than that bunch of roses and card!