What does kindness mean to you? It’s something that I asked friends of mine recently as I was curious to hear what their answers would be. Their responses were as varied as they were reassuring; anything from giving loved ones the support they need in the form of a hug or listening to them, to holding doors open for strangers or encouraging people just by giving them a compliment when they needed to hear it.
Why do I think this is reassuring? Because when we pick up our phones or flick on the TV, the words and images that we see are often anything BUT kind. Sniping and bitching on social media is so common that our senses are numb to it – unless you’re the person it’s happening to, and you’re the one feeling the pain. It’s not called trolling for nothing; as soon as these invisible keyboard monsters hear the tippity-tap of someone putting a part of their life online, whether it’s a photo or an opinion, they are taking aim to shoot them down.
Newspapers thrive on bad news – they say nothing sells like sex or tragedy, but if it can be ramped up a gear by misfortune and aggression then all the better! Kindness, generosity of spirit, support or love are rarely mentioned on the evening news or the morning paper and it doesn’t take much to overwhelm even the strongest of us with feelings of negativity and hopelessness. According to the mental health charity Mind, 1 in 6 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem in any given week. That can mean anything from anxiety, depression to feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope – things that any one of us can relate to.
‘Hello to kindness’ is one way to help with this; even if it means smiling and letting someone on a crowded train before you (unheard of if you live in London!) or texting a friend who seems a little quiet to ask if everything is OK; it’s about making a person feel that they have been seen and heard. To me, that’s what kindness is all about, because in a busy world that can seem full of negativity isn’t that all any of us want? It doesn’t take much to be kind to someone; it can be as simple as saying “Hello”.