Are you worried what the future might hold?
The last few years have been challenging as the planet has grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve seen horrific images of people struggling to breathe, grieving relatives and overwhelmed health workers.
And amongst all that, there have been uprisings, sanctions, diplomatic hostilities, climate change, and a surge in food insecurity.
We saw Afghanistan fall to the Taliban (again).
Now we have the bloodiest and most incomprehensible war taking place in Ukraine where civilians, people like you and me have been subjected to horrendous acts of barbarity.
It’s as if the world, that was already a bit bonkers has gone completely mad.
If you’ve been left thinking,
‘But what can I do?’
‘I’m only one person wanting things to be different.’
‘What possible positive impact can I make?’
It’s time to stop underestimating yourself, because you have something so powerful within you, you can, if you choose to do something for the greater good.
It was Mother Theresa who said,
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone that will create the first ripple.”
Making a Difference One Ripple at a Time
Crisis, war, natural disasters can bring out the worst in us, and our best.
As humans our superpower lies not in bullying, intimidation, or judgment.
Our humanity shows kindness, compassion, and empathy, lifting us up way beyond the darkness of pain, humiliation, and despair.
It starts with curiosity.
If you’ve noticed that one of your colleagues seems very low, or that your boss is uncharacteristically not very chatty, your curiosity as to why that might be and showing that you’ve noticed and want to know how best to help, shines a beacon of hope.
Every city and town have people who have fallen on hard times They might have become homeless, developed mental illness, or become addicted to drugs and alcohol.
You may be walking past these people every day.
If you hesitate to donate money because you’re worried what they might choose to spend it on, get curious to what would be helpful.
A young Irishman Mark Kelly did just that. Googling what items would be most helpful to a homeless person.
His TED talk shares how kindness is our superpower to make a positive difference.
It requires action.
Understanding what someone might need, whether it’s a listening ear, an offer of helping to reduce a colleague’s workload or a pair of socks to keep feet warm, is only the start.
It’s the action you take, that makes the difference.
Kindness is contagious
“When we practice loving kindness and compassion, we are the first ones to profit.”
Being kind benefits the giver and the receiver.
If you have been shown kindness, like being shouted a coffee by a colleague, or been given an unexpected offer of help to enable you to meet a deadline. It feels good for both of you.
Being shown kindness, triggers your own desire to show kindness to someone else. You pay it forward.
Kindness is good for us
Being kind lowers cortisol, by up to 23% in perpetually kind people.
It increases longevity.
It makes you feel happy and calm by elevating serotonin levels.
It elevates oxytocin levels (our bonding hormone), lowering blood pressure and improving heart health.
It lights up the brain’s pleasure centre, the nucleus accumbens. It’s as if you have received the kindness yourself.
It reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression by focusing our attention outwards.
Make daily kindness a habit
Choosing to perform one random act of kindness each day can make you feel great and make a positive difference to someone else.
Whether or not the beneficiary notices or not is irrelevant to the impact being kind has on you.
This isn’t about being kind to be noticed or rewarded – it’s about feeling good for your actions and enjoying the energy and happiness it instils in you.
Should you aim for one act of kindness each day?
Studies have shown that undertaking multiple acts of kindness each day, amplifies the impact more than doing one each day.
Try it for yourself.
See if you can find five ways to show kindness over the course of a single day.
The acts can be big or small, they don’t all have to be for the same person, and they don’t need to be aware of what you are doing for them.
It might be taking out your neighbour’s rubbish bin.
Paying for a stranger’s parking ticket.
It might be picking up litter
It could be volunteering some time at Food Bank.
At the end of the day, check in with how this made you feel and the impact it had on your happiness levels.
Mr Rogers was a TV icon best known for his show Mister Roger’s Neighbourhood that ran until the early 2000s.
He is remembered for many quotes and inspirational life lessons. Apparently, he was in real life much as he appeared on screen, calm, authentic, inclusive, and caring.
But the one quote that has always stayed with me is this one.
“There are three ways to ultimate success:
The first is to be kind.
The second is to be kind.
The third way is to be kind.”
Thank you to my good friend Paul Kurchina for introducing me to Mr. Roger’s wise words.
Being kind is good for our health, our mental wellbeing and contributes to the creation of a kinder community and world.
How do you choose to show greater kindness?
Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is now available for purchase
If thriving in life and work is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.