There’s no doubt that one of the positives to come out of this global pandemic is that small acts of kindness have rippled across the globe.
The Mental Health Foundation have picked ‘kindness’ as the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year. Mark Rowland, Chief Executive says “We have chosen kindness because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practise to be fully alive.”
With this in mind, something that happened a couple of weeks ago popped into my head. We’ve recently moved our bedroom around, so the head of our bed is now underneath our window. Most mornings we can hear the birds chatting, tweeting, singing – and as delightful as that sounds – I can’t say I feel the same when it’s an hour before my alarm. One particular morning the birds were joined by a low rumble, a quiet but noticeable rumble getting louder. I thought to myself “Who the hell is making THAT noise at THIS hour?!” Annoyed, I got up to peak out of my blind, to find and mentally curse the culprit. As I did, I instantly softened – “oh how lovely” I said to myself, completely forgetting the case I had just built against this young man. There he was – with a green bin that he was pulling along. It had number 51 on the lid. It was our bin. And he was returning it to our front garden for us. I hadn’t seen him before, we’d never met – he must have been a neighbour from the other end of the street. “What a kind thing to do” I thought to myself as I smiled and drifted back to sleep.
These small acts of kindness have been widespread throughout the UK, and no doubt globally too. One that I’m sure we’ve all witnessed is the ongoing support for the NHS. Whilst they should absolutely be paid what they deserve, and have proper protective equipment whilst navigating this pandemic – I’m sure that we can all agree a little acknowledgement goes a long way. Something as simple as putting pen to paper or popping out to your doorstep at 8pm on a Thursday night to clap for five minutes reaches beyond words. It says “we support you, we’re here with you and we appreciate you.”
Kindness comes in all shapes and sizes. It can look like sending a check in text, or a card through the post, a smile as you cross paths going to get essentials or maybe even sending a film recommendation. You can have a look at the Mental Health Foundation’s handy list of simple, kind and meaningful acts here. If there is one thing that this pandemic has taught us; it’s to not underestimate the power of kindness.