Long working hours, job security, reality TV, materialism, the knife culture and the economy can distract us from what is really important or, worse, make us feel disconnected from others and the world.
Whilst we are living in an age where we have many ways of communicating, we are bombarded with so much information - from the internet, TV, telephone, texts, junk mail, and the media - as well as demands on us by our families and work, that we may find ourselves feeling distracted and isolated. It is rare to see people truly connect. On the odd occasion when I have caught the eye of a fellow passenger on the train and smiled, this has sometimes led to a smile in return and a pleasurable conversation. More often than not, though, the person looks away. As the years go by, there appears to be less connection between individuals, people are less patient and strangers view each other suspiciously. The world seems to be turning into a lonelier and harsher place.
You may have heard of or seen a film called Pay it Forward. This was brought to my attention a couple of years ago when I sent flowers to cheer up a friend who had had a hard time. She called me to say “pay it forward”. I didn’t understand what she meant and she mentioned the film which I then watched. It is a about a young boy – played by the brilliant Haley Joel Osment – whose class is set an assignment at school to think of an idea that would change the world. Whilst his classmates came up with ideas such as clearing rubbish away, he thought of repaying an act of kindness to three different people. Then those three people would pay that forward – pass it on - to three more people and so on. A few simple actions would have a tremendous effect in a very short space of time - eventually you have an epidemic of kindness and goodwill. As the teacher – played by Kevin Spacey – says in the film “the realm of possibility exists within each of you”. The film shows beautifully how this could work.
In their book, The Beauty Prescription, Doctors Debra Luftman and Eva Ritvo, also recommend random acts of kindness because doing something good for others makes you feel good about yourself.
Our own local random acts of kindness could be a small step in helping to stem the tide of toxicity in our society.
So, shall we start an epidemic of kindness? Email me your stories (to firstname.lastname@example.org) It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, it could be the simplest act, just something which shows what it is to connect kindly to another human being, what it meant to you, what effect it had on them. There is also a Facebook page where you can share your stories. We can be so wrapped up in our own problems or busy-ness, that remembering the following can help us improve our world:
- We all have our burdens to carry
- Bitter words leave a bad taste in your own mouth whilst kind words taste sweet
- One thing you can give and keep at the same time is your word
- The heaviest thing you can carry is a grudge
- Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important
- As Rudyard Kipling said: "I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble."