This Friday the 13th November is World Kindness Day and I want to invite you to get involved.
We all know in our hearts that everyday should be world kindness day, but for now, let’s take things one step at a time. Here is a day on which we can focus our attention, even if it’s just for a short while, on practising kindness - whether that’s for ourselves, friends or family, our communities or even a total stranger. Kindness gives multiple benefits for all participants. It costs nothing, yet means the world.
Kindness is one of the pillars of being human which unites us across all differences, whether in cultures, religions, genders, social classes and teachings.
So how did World Kindness Day come about? It began in 1998, initiated by an international group called the World Kindness Movement (WKM), a non-profit organisation which has no political, religious or commercial affiliations. The movement now has representatives right across the world, helping to make World Kindness Day a truly global phenomenon, and a wonderfully positive way to express our common humanity.
Why is kindness so important? Well, kindness helps people develop, thrive and grow in positive ways as they go through their life’s journey. It further strengthens connections between individuals and the society in which they live (and those societies in which they choose to participate, e.g. online communities). Kindness is the right choice every time.
Research has shown that in learning situations, kind and supportive environments enable better achievement. And kind environments support not only better learning, but help those who may be suffering from anxiety, depression, anger and a whole range of negatively-framed mindsets and actions to live healthier, more fulfilled lives.
One of the most important things is to teach kindness to our youngsters – about its value, and how it helps us, a valuable tool to make ourselves - and others - feel better. Many schools are participating in World Kindness Day, with lots of resources being available for pupils to think about, practice and learn about the value and benefits of kindness.
In addition, great charities such as 52lives' School of Kindness and the Museum of Happiness take kindness lessons into our schools to help children understand the real value of kindness, and plant the seeds of positive action for the benefit of the future adults of the world. With a better understanding of kindness, it is more likely that tomorrow’s young adults will be more informed about how to look after themselves and their mental health. They deserve that. And that will have benefits for everyone.
So please get involved by spreading your own kindness 'sunshine' around. It can be anything you want it to be. But if it's helpful, here's just a few suggestions for you to add to.
For others it could be a phone call to an isolated friend or relative, baking treats for your kids’ lunchboxes, a smile to a stranger you pass in the street, buying a sandwich or a hot drink for a homeless person you might encounter.
For yourself, it could be making time for a long bath, enjoying a country walk, listening to music which brings happy memories, treating yourself to some inner kindness by meditating -or simply checking that you are speaking kindly to yourself (we all have our “inner critic” and today’s the day to turn their volume down).
You’ll have so many great ideas of your own and I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
However you practice kindness, every single thing you do helps to make the world a kinder place. And we all need that right now!
Juan Carlos is a therapist and author with over 22 years' experience as a diagnostic scientist.
All blog entries are Copyright ©2019-2021 Juan Carlos Gouveia, except quotations and where stated.