If you haven’t taken a moment of your time to be kind to someone in a while, then today may be the perfect opportunity.
November 13 has been designated World Kindness Day since 1998 and is fronted in the UK by humanitarian Louise Burfitt-Dons.
The aim of the day is two-fold: to increase the number of good deeds that take place in our society and to encourage people to recognise the value of kindness.
But it’s not just the people on the receiving end of goodwill gestures – or those who perform them – who benefit from them. Research has shown that just witnessing an act of kindness can be good for you.
We caught up with Steve Taylor PhD, a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University, who believes that passers-by can benefit just as much as those involved. Watch the video and then read his explanation of why it makes us feel good.
This hero dog rescued a fellow canine which had been hit on a highway. The clip went viral after it was shared thousands of times.
If you’ve witnessed or performed an act of kindness lately, tell us about it via the form at the bottom of this article
Steve said: “One day, a friend of mine was walking through his home city in Pakistan when he saw a crowd gathered around the stall of a bird seller.
“A man had bought some myna birds and was releasing them. One by one, he took them out of the cage, and let them fly free. In all, he bought 32 of the birds, just to set them free.
“My friend was amazed by this act of altruism, partly because – as he put it – ‘such acts of charity were not so common in my part of the world where people are not so kind to animals in general.'”
“But he was also amazed at his own reaction to it. He was filled with a feeling of elation. A strange quietness filled his surroundings, and he felt completely free of worry or anxiety. The sense of peace and joy remained with him for a few days.
“Most of us are probably familiar with this type of sensation – the fantastic warm, elevated feeling of witnessing acts of kindness.
“Even the most simple acts might give you a touch of this: a passer-by giving his packed lunch to a homeless man, a stranger offering to help a blind person cross the road, or a tube or bus passenger giving up his seat for an old lady.”
“In these moments, we feel a renewed faith in human nature, a sense of the sheer goodness which human beings are often capable of, which sometimes might seem difficult to see amidst the chaos and conflict of everyday life.
“We also feel a sense of connection. Often we feel separate, cut off from one another in our own mental space, but kindness brings us together.
“It reminds us that we’re not really isolated individuals, but expressions of the same consciousness in different forms, sharing the same basic identity.
“So when you consider performing an act of kindness, think about its potential three way positive effect.
“There’s the positive effect on the recipient, and the positive effect on you (you might find yourself experiencing the positive emotion of the ‘helper’s high’).
“But perhaps the biggest effect of all will be on a passer-by who just happens to witness the act.”
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