The dictionary definition of 'kindness' is "being friendly, generous, and considerate". Sadly, in our digital age, these values seem to easily get lost, and for every positive comment online, there can sometimes be an equal or greater number of abusive ones (which can often border on hate speech). Who even coined the 'sticks and stones' expression? Because I think we can all agree that words sure can hurt. Kindness isn’t simply an absence of negativity - it’s about doing a little more than is normally expected, and I started 2019 by being extra careful with my comments, especially online. Spoiler alert: yep, it makes you feel pretty great.
"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you." - Princess Diana
Alison Callan, a Mindfulness Consultant suggests to go on "a gratitude rampage", where you "give positive reviews and feedback to people online that ordinarily you might not have time to do, even submit a review on a shop assistant who was super helpful". So, for a couple of weeks, I did my best to make sure I never stayed silent after a positive experience - because why aren’t we telling people more, anyway?
MORE: HELLO! launch #HelloToKindness charity T-shirt - and you're going to want one immediately
"It's cool to be kind" - Meghan Markle
I’m doing Veganuary so have been trying more places to eat (not hard when I live in London) and so far this year, haven’t visited anywhere where I haven’t left an (outstanding!) TripAdvisor review. Having worked as a waitress plenty of times before, I know how much we valued a positive review, and how frustrating it is when only customers who had a negative experience posted comments. After writing a couple, I’ve decided to make it my new resolution for the rest of the year - and never using 'I just don't have the time' as an excuse ever again. You know when you tell a friend about the incredible dinner you enjoyed on the weekend because you know they’ll love it, you feel pretty great? Why *not* tell the world - and especially make sure they themselves find out?
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I also visited the theatre twice and made sure to tweet about the performances afterwards, because I’m definitely guilty of filling people’s timeline with daily commute whinges and not enough positivity. Unsurprisingly, I did feel better after sharing a kind comment instead of moaning about an invasion of personal space on a hangover. Writing something kind and expecting nothing in return (especially with an anonymous review) is such an easy way to weave a little more kindness into the world. Let’s try and make it as second nature as posted the heart-eyed emoji on your friend’s Instagram selfies, who’s with me?
Send letters to people you appreciate - it doesn't even have to be someone you know!
I hadn’t written a ‘kind’ letter since I first wrote to JK Rowling, aged 8, to let her know how at home I felt at Hogwarts and how desperate I was to learn more of Harry’s adventures. But for those without social media, inking your way to some kindness is another way to spread a little positivity. I had finished writing my Christmas Thank You letters early and had some spare cards to spare - so this is when I really decided to amp up my comments of kindness. Who else really deserves thanks?
After a couple of health scares since graduating, I decided to put into words the unspoken gratitude I had for the NHS, and even more specifically, the staff who worked over Christmas. If you can scribble a few words for aunties who gave you yet another pair of slippers, surely the doctors, nurses, and support staff who gave up their holiday period to save lives deserve the same. I wrote letters to all the hospitals who had treated me over the years, and would 100% urge others to put pen to paper too. Telling people how much you appreciate them isn’t always second nature, and sometimes the people who deserve it the most hear it the least. I promise that you will feel better for it - and if you start passing on the kindness, who knows when it will get back to you? Let’s make kind words shout louder than cruel ones - it’s the least we can do.
Make a stand. Say #HelloToKindness. Post your own kind message on Instagram today and tag @HelloMag.