Halloween: October 31: The Not So Scary Thing About Kindness
Lately, all we seem to hear about in the news, are distressing events occurring within a society seemingly in a state of chaos. Pandemic statistics, political divisiveness, economic woes, weather disasters, and the negative news goes on. The list of everyday catastrophes seems overwhelming, producing anxiety, fear, a sense of helplessness and the tendency to want to hunker down like a turtle, and withdraw into our shells to hide from it all. These can be scary times, but unlike the ghosts and goblins of Halloween, this period of fearmongering has lasted much longer than one day. We can feel overwhelmed by it all and wonder “what has happened to our world”? Reading about increased violence on our airways this week, I wondered, what has happened to human kindness?
Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. These seemingly simple behaviors can be blocked by fear and resentment. A sense of helplessness can induce the concept that there is nothing we can do to make a difference. But in our daily lives, both as presenters and recipients, kindness can make a difference. Like a pebble thrown into a pond, even the simplest acts can have an impact. Think back to the last kind gesture you received. It could be something as little as someone holding the door for you, a positive greeting from a stranger, or a note of appreciation from a friend. How did it make you feel?
Research has shown that kindness actually has significant impacts: from increasing our compassion, positivity and self-esteem, to decreasing blood pressure and reducing the cortisol (a stress hormone) in our bodies. It also changes the brain! The act of being kind increases the neurotransmitters in our brain, serotonin and dopamine, which are the ones which give us feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Endorphins, natural painkillers, can also be released, https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/the-art-of-kindness.
“Kindness is more than behavior. The art of kindness means harboring a spirit of helpfulness, as well as being generous and considerate, and doing so without expecting anything in return. Kindness is a quality of being. The act of giving kindness often is simple, free, positive and healthy.”https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/the-art-of-kindness
When we head out on the nature trail, our eyes are trained to seek out the beautiful, unusual and unexpected. We can use these same behaviors to seek out and promote acts of kindness. Witnessing the generosity of the human spirit can be an antidote to the despair that seems to be pervading our society. Becoming aware of these powerful”pebbles” of kindness and their positive rippling impact, can diminish our feelings of anxiety and helplessness. While we can’t change the world, we can make a difference in our own daily lives and in the lives of others in our community by the simple act of being kind.
Thank you as always for taking the time to read our blog. We welcome your thoughts and invite you to share it with someone who might find it meaningful.
In the meantime, stay healthy, safe and seek out the acts of kindness that weave through your day.
Best. Wendy Oellers-Fulmer
Quotes to Inspire Kindness
“You cannot do kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”—Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”—The 14th Dalai Lama
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”—Scott Adams
“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.”—Barbara De Angelis.
“Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.”—Anne Herbert.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”—Margaret Mead.
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”—Desmond Tutu.
“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”—Maya Angelou
“Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.”—Jackie Chan.
“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.”—Bob Kerrey.
“Simple kindness may be the most vital key to the riddle of how human beings can live with each other in peace, and care properly for this planet we all share.”—Bo Lozoff.
“Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations.”—Paramahansa Yogananda.