Will you make 'more kindness' a new year's resolution?
Last week I was singing along to ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ by Band Aid. It’s that time of year and I love a good singalong to some Christmas classics.
It sent me back to 1984. I was 15 at the time and music was a becoming a big influence on my life. But more than watching the likes of Bono, Sting, Paul Weller and er, Marilyn, together in a recording studio, it was the first time that I’d seen a group of famous artists publicly come together in this way to help others. Dad donated to Band Aid because he said that Christmas is a time to show kindness to others not as fortunate as us. That song went on to raise over $150m for famine relief in Ethiopia.
The start of a new year provides an opportunity to review the behaviours we have demonstrated the previous year and decide on those that could be improved. Our behaviours are the things that our work colleagues (and friends) talk about when we’re not in the room, good and bad. One thing we can all strive to do better is to show a little more kindness – not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.
Kindness is the foundation of empathy, and provides greater psychological security in the workplace, a key trait that all successful teams have, according to a Google survey earlier this year. It also provides other benefits too.
According to the Science of Kindness blog it not only helps you to age slower by reducing cortisol (the stress hormone) but it also produces oxytocin which aids in lowering blood pressure and improves our overall heart health too.
And researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky also recently found that when people were randomly kind to others it ‘increased happiness, connectedness, flow, and decreased depression, not just for the givers, but for the receivers and even for observers’.
No wonder it feels good to be kind.
Kindness is a behaviour that is motivated by relieving the suffering of others or else to bring them pleasure, without the need for recognition or reward. When we’re kind towards others we experience a feeling called ‘The Helpers High’. Giving someone directions, helping someone across the road, giving up your seat for someone more needy or giving up your time to help a colleague. All of these things create a state of euphoria that is caused by the release of endorphins in the brain.
It may be hard to believe, but showing a little more kindness isn’t always welcomed.
Only last week there was a story in the US where a police officer decided to show kindness to a homeless person caught shoplifting and is now facing an internal investigation. Whilst I don’t condone breaking the law, I believe that if we treated more people with kindness and tried to help them, maybe there’d be a little less anger and desperation in the world.
Being kind doesn’t always come naturally or can feel awkward, which is why we should resolve to do something small every day of every week. It can be random – buy someone a coffee, shout them breakfast, send them a blog you think they’d find interesting or simply say something kind. It could also be knowledge that you have that you’d like to share with others or simply giving up your time to help someone out.
Whatever you decide to do, make it a new routine and enjoy the good feelings it provides.
Albert Schweitzer said, ‘Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes the ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.’ There is much hostility in our world right now and one way to combat it in 2018 is with a little more kindness.
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