Kindness costs nothing.... well, not much anyhow
PUBLISHED: 09:35 13 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:35 13 November 2017
On World Kindness Day we have the chance to make a difference to someone’s life − a stranger, a friend, a loved one. Seize the day.
World Kindness Day is an occasion aimed at ordinary people although it would be nice to think governments might consider making gestures of kindness... it doesn’t sound very likely, does it? The day was born when a collection of humanitarian groups came together on November 13, 1997 and made a “Declaration of Kindness”. Likewise, on Kindness Day everyone is encouraged to make a similar declaration. We can all take part. We can each, for example, pledge to commit just one act of kindness. The suggestions on the website include complimenting a neighbour on their collection of garden gnomes. If you follow up on this, I would make sure your neighbour does not have an acute sense of irony. It would be a shame to fall at the first hurdle.
Past celebrations have included Kindness UK handing out 10,000 free chocolate bars at London Train stations; The Singapore Kindness Movement gave out 30,000 Gerberas; World Kindness Australia conducted an enormous Kindness Hug on Bondi Beach; Kindness UK encouraged a Text Wave that swept the UK.
Here is my list of suggested, smaller but equally effective, kindnesses:
• Buy a packet a Rolos and let your lover have the last one. Ah, but is it really a kindness to encourage the one you love to eat something that isn’t good for them (milk in chocolate does not count as one of your five a day)?
• Surprise your partner by doing all their ironing... this especially applies to those who live with a man because most ironing (I have found) is men’s clothes... shirts with collars, sleeves, cuffs, buttons, sometimes buttons on the collar. This is a true though fleeting kindness because, in gratitude, all these shirts will be worn again and thus need ironing. But it’s all right because World Kindness Day is only on November 13.
• Take in the online purchase deliveries for the entire neighbourhood (as I seem to do when home). Strident knock at door. There’s Yodel van or similar parked outside. The driver asks you to take in a parcel and sign for it, presenting you with a plastic stick and a small console screen for your signature. You sign something that might be your name... in Klingon.
• Pay compliments but beware of being a bit creepy and/or inappropriate. Do not mention weight.
• Smile − I suspect people think there’s something wrong with me when I walk along the high street with a smile on my face. It is dual purpose, intended both to cheer people up and to diminish the appearance of wrinkles.
• If there’s someone behind you in the queue at Sainsbury (other large retailers are available) with just two or three items, why not let them go first... but scan the area to make sure they haven’t got a companion with a piled-high trolley lurking nearby.
• Make time for relatives. Give ancient aunts a phone call, have lunch with a sibling and offer to pay... actually, go Dutch. It’s kind that you asked without going mad.
• Spend half an hour in the supermarket shopping exclusively for the local food bank and be amazed at how little it costs for 20 foodbank items compared to your 10 luxury items − avocado, coffee beans, prosecco, morbier cheese, artisan loaf of bread, wild rice, Twinings tea, freshly-squeezed orange juice, sable grapes, truffle-infused olive oil.
• Listen − properly listen − to someone who doesn’t have anyone else to talk to.
• Open the door of a shop for a harassed parent with a pushchair. Smile and say nothing when she runs over your foot and laugh with delight when the toddler in the buggy sticks a part-chewed fruity bar to your new winter coat.
• Drop a (new) £1 coin into the hat of the busking piano accordionist who, like Eric Morecambe in the Grieg’s piano concerto Christmas sketch, plays all the right notes but not necessarily (not at all in some cases) in the right order.
• Let the one you love listen to Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (all five and a half hours of it) and forgo your daily hit of Murder She Wrote. (This one might actually be better placed under the “constitutes an unnecessary level of self sacrifice” heading.)
• Be kind to yourself because you are important too. (It doesn’t have to be chocolate although I find it helps)
At at kindnessuk.com you can sign the kindness day petition and complete an online survey.