We all have our own definition of kindness so give a thought to what it actually means to you to be kind.

Being a World Kindness Ambassador, I am often asked what it means to be kind. Perhaps it could mean to turn the other cheek, give to others in terms of monetary donations, provide a smile, a spare umbrella on a rainy day, a ‘how are you doing’ question. All of these, of course, are acts of kindness.

I also believe Kindness is contagious. When we experience the feeling of another person being kind toward us, it ignites the desire to reciprocate and pass it on, to be kind to another. The more we do this, the more contagious it becomes. Being kind to another makes us feel good, empowers us, releases those feel-good hormones we all enjoy. Being Kind feels great.

I am also asked the question about what if you give kindness to someone and they do not reciprocate? This is missing the point. To decide to give an act of kindness to someone is done so without expectation of reward back, this then would be a business transaction. We give kindness because we choose to, without any expectation of anything in return. If we do get a smile back or a thank you this is a bonus, not an expectation.

Throughout many years of giving kindness and concern to others, I remain so delighted when someone says thank you back. This can be done at times with tears in their eyes as you may be the first person in a while to check-in how they are feeling or doing.

We do live in this busy world, most connected via social media, however, this is not a display of kindness. Kindness is often personal, given freely. A smile, saying thank you, asking how someone is, opening a door, stepping aside to allow someone in first, enquiring if another person needs something or some help. All of these are a display of kindness. Checking up on that elderly or unwell neighbour, calling your friend or parent, making sure the person you work with is doing alright. It is a concern for others, it is a display of caring, it is a consideration and thought for others. It costs nothing, takes little time yet the value of being Kind can change someone’s day, even life.

I remember a few years back I walked past this young man sitting alone on a park bench in Sydney. I walked on by, and he caught my eye. He was doing nothing, just sitting, looking out. I walked past then slowed down and whatever it was that possessed me I turned and walked back, sat at the other end of the bench quietly and just remained there. After about a minute I turned and said hello. He did not reply. I again said hello and asked if he was alright. He looked up slowly smiled and looked down again. His demeanour concerned me. I slid a little closer, introduced myself and just said, did you want to share with me what’s on your mind or what is going on for you today? He then embarrassingly broke into tears and tried to hide his distress. I touched his forearm and said quietly, can I help you? He told me no one could help; he felt lost, alone and helpless. I again asked if there was anything I could do. Long story short he had a terrible fallout between himself and his parents. He felt thrown away and dismissed by them. He knew he had disappointed them and was embarrassed and ashamed. He explained what happened and we spoke for a while. He then surprisingly asked me if I could speak to his mum as he was scared she would not take his call. I called his mother, explained where we were, what he had told me and the way he was feeling. His mother then cried and wanted to speak to her son. I left them crying, apologising and speaking together. After a few moments, I heard a distant voice calling wait, stop, lady. I turned and this young man chased me down. He wrapped his arms around my neck and said ‘thank you’. He admitted he was in deep despair and now he was about to hop on a train and see his parents. He felt his life was about to start again and how he planned to make amends for a previous poor behaviour, learn a valuable lesson and do the right thing in future.

Whenever you may feel another person’s despair may I suggest you stop, ask them how they are and if there is anything you can do for them. Even a caring enquiry can be enough for someone to feel visible to another, to feel like they have been worth the time to ask if they were ok.

Kindness is non-judgement of others. It doesn’t matter who the person is, their age, colour, status or religion, they are a person, they matter. Kindness is acceptance, respect and consideration. Kindness is contagious. Spread kindness and become infected. It is a beautiful feeling.

If you wish to join World Kindness please visit, http://www.worldkindnessaustralia.org/

Listen to Radio interview on Radio station 2UE Talking Lifestyle discussing Kindness

Read more from Dr Karen 




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