by Rachel Ward Lilley, business & educational psychologist
Even before the official lockdown, a lecturer in Cornwall started a kindness campaign, offering support for those self-isolating. It took the form of leafleting neighbours with contact details of people prepared to offer help with shopping, collecting prescriptions or regular check-in phone calls. Her facebook page sharing her ideas soon circulated and others copied and spread the goodness worldwide.
Life is difficult for so many people. There is suffering, sadness, madness and worry, so it is heartening to see, alongside it all, that people are helping each other – friends and strangers alike. Covid-19 Mutual Aid Groups have been popping up – there are more than 700 in the UK alone. Kindness, it seems, is also contagious.
And kindness pays off in so many ways:
- It helps others: with practical things or by reducing loneliness and isolation.
- It helps the helper: selfless acts are connected to positive physical and mental effects*.
- It helps others help others: setting an example often encourages others to do good too.
- It is reciprocal: receiving support means you will be more likely to offer it yourself.
Kindness makes us better people and the more kindness you spread, the more opportunities you see to do more. So, let’s make kindness a habit and challenge ourselves to a 30 days kindness challenge to ensure we stick to helping others as we move from lockdown to recovery stages.
Many people are doing lots of great things already, but here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Smile at every one you encounter – on-screen or otherwise, with or without a mask – the smile will show in your eyes.
- Make and distribute food in your street or apartment block.
- Write a letter to an extended family member you have not been in touch with.
- Leave a random uplifting note for someone to find.
- Have a conversation with a friend – and don’t forget to focus on speaking less and listening more.
Wouldn’t it be nice to realize the joy in caring for people was permanently woven in to all our lives?
And for more inspiration I’m just about to start reading a book about two ordinary men and kindness – Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession.
*benefits of altruism include lowering blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less incidence of depression, lower stress levels, longer life and happiness
Rachel Ward Lilley is a business & educational psychologist. She has worked for many years advising SMEs and her current work relates to issues of resilience, communication, personal development, team building and motivation. Over the past twelve years Rachel has extended her work into the educational field.