I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers. Me and Blanche DuBois. A door held open, a knowing smile, a train seat offered, a thank you. Don’t fool yourself, these things do make a big difference to both the giver and recipient of the act of kindness. Increased levels of oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins lead to a ‘helper’s high’. Sounds like a delicious and cheap chemical cocktail! Kindness has a kind of magic in it. How can we bring this voodoo more into our everyday world?
Hello friend! It sometimes seems funny to me that we only say hello and smile at people we know. It sometimes seems funny to the person on the receiving end of my grin too who is probably thinking, ‘do I know that fuzzy haired girl?’ Why not smile at everyone? We’re all human beings with deep feelings who feel things deeply. A smile can change someone’s day. A jaunty wave can boost your mood.
All aboard the connection train: Do you remember the days where the only people who needed mobile phones were medical professionals on call? Now, if anyone has 1 second of down-time, they’re glued to their phone. I must admit I’m guilty as charged of this. Public transport is a sea of heads down, thumbs scrolling. What if we tried to look up more? Not necessarily having a D&M with everyone but at least glancing up to notice the elderly or pregnant person standing next to us who might just need the seat more. Did parents or schools stop teaching kids to offer people who need it their seat? It takes more energy to aggressively stare at the ground or straight ahead rather than look up and offer. Come on kids! Don’t turn me into a fist-shaking old person. Get off my lawn! Let’s glance up occasionally and make someone an offer they can’t refuse.
One person-one moment-one conversation: Try to be present when you’re talking to someone. Not looking over their shoulder for someone else or down at the dreaded phone, dwelling in the past or anticipating the future. Be here now. We’re so used to multi-tasking that the challenge now is the single task. This is mindfulness in action. I like the analogy of your mind being like a toddler on a blanket. Gently and repeatedly bring that toddler back to the blanket every time he wanders off and attempts to burst open the cupboard doors of your mind and bang on the saucepans.
Human person: Look for the similarities rather than differences between yourself and others. I turned to the Dali Lama for advice (via a book-though I’d love to meet his Holiness) when I was having difficulty getting along with a colleague. His holiness advised to always look to see what we had in common with the other person. If nothing else, we could at least acknowledge they were a human brother or human sister. I had to admit that my colleague and I didn’t seem to have a lot in common but being human was definitely one of them.
The Dali Lama famously said that his religion is kindness. Perhaps we could all try to take a leaf out of his book and smile hello, look up more, be present and look for the commonalities. After all, kindness is contagious. So please. Baby please. Open your heart and catch my disease.
Love and light and don’t be afraid to catch feels xxx Yvette