It was a bright day in May, five days before the General Elections in the UK, and I was walking through a field of bluebells in Wales. I was thinking about our electoral system, voting, and the power of one: whether one person can ever actualise any change? What power do we have as individuals? I believe inside everyone there is kindness and the need to take care of others. Inside all people there is empathy and compassion. Kindness can become a superpower that has a rippling effect: by small acts of kindness we encourage others to be more loving and compassionate. Kindness, however, is not only good for others – it is also an act of ultimate selfishness, often driven by a desire to make yourself feel good. Here are my top 5 tips for everyday acts of kindness:
- Despite what your parents told you, it feels nice to talk to strangers. I have to confess that when I am out and about in London, I tend to strike conversations with strangers, mainly with elderly ladies – I seek them out at bus stops, in local libraries, or grocery shops. They often go for days without anyone to talk to and are always grateful for a stranger’s smile, for a joint weather whinge, or even for a cuddle from my dog. It is extremely rewarding to know that you can alleviate loneliness for at least one person a day.
- Give genuine compliments. A colourful tie, a pair of funky earrings, a witty comment: acknowledging that someone made an effort with either their appearance or phrasing is also a selfish act – compliments feel so rewarding for the giver!
- Encourage, inspire, motivate! Never underestimate the power of leading by example: even a small action on your part, such as going for a run, embracing a meat-free/alcohol-free week, reading non-fiction, or taking nice pictures can instantly change someone’s perspective.
- Offer someone a roof over their heads. In September 2012, as I was about to leave Devon, where I had lived for almost five years, I was crying on my friend’s sofa and saying that I will never make such good friends in London. I was devastated that I will feel lonely and miss my friends terribly. Guess what? Turns out, London is even more sociable than my University years had been in Devon! There is always a friend or two coming to stay, and I never run out of fun things we can all do together to explore in this beautiful city.
- Remember your loved ones. Tell them you love them. Thank them.
Every day we have a choice of either exercising our superpower or keeping it to ourselves. What would you choose? PS. Pictures taken on the same day but two years apart. How different the weather can be on this island!