“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” What a fantastic way to endeavour to live our lives. The very notion that doing something seemingly insignificant can change someone’s life should be encouragement enough to be kind.
In school, children regularly give us a clear insight into kindness. They often naturally show kindness to others; recognising when another child is sad, sharing a toy, or putting their arm around someone who is upset. It seems to come easily. As we grow older we perhaps have to work that little bit harder and recognise that we need to actively choose to be kind. When Bear Grylls interviewed Barack Obama a few years ago, he was asked what he wanted for his children in life. Obama simply replied that he wanted his daughters to follow whatever path they wanted but whatever path that was they should be useful and be kind. It is such an uncomplicated message in what can sometimes be a very complicated world.
I think we are all looking at life through a slightly different lens due to Covid. Things seemingly unthinkable not even a year ago are suddenly the norm. Lives have been turned upside down and yet we have seen extraordinary acts of kindness in all walks of life. From huge charity fundraisers and notes put through people’s letterboxes to children keeping in touch with care homes and flowers being left in public spaces for all to enjoy. Nobody needs to do these things yet many have shown an overwhelming urge to reach out to help others.
At its very simplest kindness is good for us. Research has shown that being kind to ourselves or to anyone else (even a complete stranger) or actively observing kindness around us actually boosts our happiness. There are many studies that show being kind helps our own wellbeing. Kindness boosts our mood, helps us feel more capable and strengthens our relationships with others. In the lives of those recovering from addiction, kindness is often cited as key to their recovery.
We must, I believe, strive to nurture kindness in our children. As Barack Obama stated, if we can choose one thing for our children surely it must be to be kind. The benefits of teaching kindness to children extends way beyond the children themselves but to teachers, classrooms and the wider community. Kindness does inspire kindness. We must model that to our children, we must value it in all aspects of our lives, especially in school and encourage our children to grow up to be kind, compassionate and altruistic young people, ready to make a difference in the world.