Kindness equals connection, look around you.
In a world of 24 hour news and second by second social media content; with the Internet the world has never been so connected and yet human connection is at its lowest. People may have thousands of followers, connections or online ‘friends” and yet can be at their loneliest.
When we carry out acts of kindness we make a connection with another being whether human or animal. We form a community in that moment with that other person. When we are kind to someone else, we are of course receiving a reward ourselves, which is that feeling of connection.
As a self confessed introvert and someone who has autism (albeit high-functioning) I would have said in the past that connection with other people isn’t something that I strive for (connection with animals is something very different and something I’ve always had).
However the more I’ve thought about it since my autism diagnosis a few years ago, the more I’ve come to understand that in the past it’s been less about not needing connection and more about not having the skills and brain function to form them. Over the past few decades I’ve trained in counselling, coaching, NLP, body language, micro expressions and more to learn to communicate and connect. Even now when I do it’s more about using the skills to do so rather than an instinct or natural ability.
The big ‘aha’ moment though has come since working on my Do Kindness campaign. By helping others and concentrating on not only carrying out kind acts but also looking out for kind acts done by others I have found my sense of connection with a wider community.
If you Google acts of kindness you’ll read lots of ideas for being kind, like paying it forward, buying a stranger a coffee, carrying someones bags, leaving an anonymous gift somewhere. All of these are great and valid, however what they can lack is that connection.
Instead lift your eyes and look around you. Get your head away from looking at your phone screen and really see what’s happening in front of you. We so often spend our time in our own little world, not really paying attention to the world around us.
Does that person on another table look upset? Go and ask them if they need help. Spend some time being there for them.
Instead of just giving money to a homeless person, make eye contact with them and ask them how they are doing. Spend some time being there with them.
Is that a snail on the pavement? Then pick it up and move it to the side so it doesn’t get trodden on.
Is there a parcel delivery person at your front door? Rather than grab your parcel and run, ask them how their day is. Do they need a drink of water? Do they need to pop to the loo?
All of these are about connection, surely the deepest form of kindness that can be shared.
Of course there’ll be some of you saying “But Neil, what about being kind to yourself first? Surely charity begins at home.”
And I say, “Not a problem. Connect with yourself.”
It’s so easy to feel lost in the world, to feel stressed with work and life. It means we are constantly looking inwards; our heads whirling with negative thoughts or simply just too many thoughts.
I mean, even now while you are reading this, how many other conversations are going on in your head right now? Yes we all have them, it’s not just you.
Doing acts of kindness is a great way of reducing stress and improving our own well-being.
So once again pick your head up and open your eyes. Really look at what’s around you. Notice that leaf blowing in the wind. That dog running across the park just because it can. That child splashing in the puddle. When we really look around us and are mindful of our surroundings (hmm almost sounding a bit Jedi’ish there) our attention is no longer focussed on our internal worries. For a moment those internal voices go quiet. How amazing.
What are you waiting for?
Get out there, be kind and connect.