The World Kindness Movement (WKM) began in 1996 when the ‘Small Kindness Movement’ in Japan organised a conference for kindness movements from around the world. With a mission to inspire individuals to greater kindness and connect nations to create a kinder world, the WKM soon established the 13th November (the date of their second conference in 1998) as ‘World Kindness Day’ – a day to celebrate and promote kindness in all its forms. The WKM now has 18 member nations (often with several organisations within each country) and meets every two years. World Kindness Day is celebrated all over the world.
“Doing things for others - whether small, unplanned acts or regular volunteering - is a powerful way to boost our own happiness as well of those around us. The people we help may be strangers, family, friends, colleagues or neighbours. They can be old or young, nearby or far away. You don’t need to be rich - giving to others can be as simple as a single kind word, smile or a thoughtful gesture. It can include giving time, care, skills, thought or attention. Scientific studies show that helping others boosts happiness, increases life satisfaction, provides a sense of meaning, increases feelings of competence, improves our mood and reduces stress. It can help take our mind off our own troubles too.” (taken from Action for Happiness)
TEN WAYS TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL KINDNESS DAY, TODAY AND EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR
- It’s simple and it’s easy, but it makes a huge difference to someone’s day. Smile at everyone you see today.* Make a point of catching people’s eyes and really smiling warmly. It has the most incredible domino effect – your smile might well impact how someone treats their family members when they get home, in fact your smile might even impact world politics if you give it to the right people!
- Write some little feel-good notes. Try ‘You look amazing today!’ or ‘You’re a unique and precious human being’. Then slip them inside the covers of library books, tuck them into seat folds on the bus, leave them on the counter in a shop…spread some love!
- Give something without expectation. If someone asks you for money in the street, give it without stopping to make judgements or assessments of whether they really need it. Stepping away from this kind of giving – giving with conditions or judgements – frees us up to enjoy life. When we give to others it activates the areas of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection and trust. Studies have shown that giving money away tends to make people happier than spending it on themselves.
- Gather with family, friends and loved ones to have an evening of love, laughter and joy. Dancing, feasting, singing, laughing etc. will all raise your consciousness. When you’re fit to bursting with good feelings, stand in a circle holding hands and vision some of that exuberant, loving energy going out in to the world, reaching those who need it most.
- Go through your bookshelves and select several books you haven’t read in a long time. On a piece of paper, write why you liked the book and maybe some quirky, funny facts about where/when you read it (e.g. for Joyce’s Ulysses ‘I was a struggling student trying to make my bookshelf look suitably literary, but in fact I didn’t understand a word of it…’) and maybe why the reader will like it. Tuck the paper inside the book and leave on public transport, in a waiting room, in a communal area.
- Hug someone. Is it right that touching, hugging and platonic forms of affection are off the social map? “Guerilla Hugs”:http://www.guerrillahugs.com wants to change all that by challenging our culture of avoidance – edging away from people on public transport etc. – and promote wellbeing through mindful touch. Platonic social touching has been proven to reduce aggressive behaviour; increase bonding and protectiveness and improve performance in sports teams. Check out the Guerilla Hugs bullet points for “hugging tips”:http://www.guerrillahugs.com/free-hugs-bullet-points/.
- Practice kindness to yourself for a whole day. Treat yourself as you would a dear and close friend, asking yourself upon waking; ‘what would you like to do today?’ Follow your desires, however crazy and whimsical or, indeed, simple. Perhaps you simply want to curl up on the sofa with a book for a few hours. Indulge yourself, eating really delicious, nourishing food. Notice how different you feel with those around you (particularly if your kids come in from school after you’ve nurtured yourself), and you’ll see how that calm, centred, loving feeling extends out to those around you.
- Take the very first nationwide Kindness Survey and add your thoughts to what you consider an act of kindness. There’s a question on there asking ‘when did you last perform an act of kindness’? Just make sure you can answer ‘in the last hour’!
- Connect with others and get out in your community. Give a neighbour a lift; get the shopping or walk the dog for elderly residents; pop in to say hi and have a cup of tea with lonely people in your community; actively and positively engage with those around you. What about setting up a community group, club or activity? Taking pets to old people’s homes, a crafting group, a skills-swap network, a befriending and advocacy group for vulnerable community members. Reach out – and feel the joy of connection.
- Watch this video for ideas of random acts of kindness with children. Those are busy little kids If your kids are willing (never force acts of kindness, wait for them to flow freely), you could brainstorm some ideas of people in your community you’d like to reach out to. A great way of becoming aware of all the little ways in which our lives interconnect.