We are living through strange times right now with the pandemic that took over the world. 🦠
Many communities are experiencing panic, fear, worry, and suffering. 😰
Many of us are self-isolating or under mandatory quarantine. This can cause extra stress on top of the concerns we may have for our health and the health of others.
You might be extremely anxious about how to pay the bills, perhaps you suddenly have to homeschool your kids, or you are spending more time with your partner and it’s putting a strain on your relationship.
I want to remind you about another type of contagion.
Not the contagion of the virus.
But the Contagion of Kindness. 👼🏼
Kindness holds us together as a community, as a society, and as a world. You could say that kindness holds life together.
Without it, we would not have coherent societies.
Kindness is what makes humans human.
You know that phrase, look for the helpers?
Whenever something catastrophic is happening in the world, we are encouraged to look for those kind souls who are there, on the ground helping people. I feel that applies here too, in our current circumstances. Don’t just look for the helpers, be the helpers. 🤝
This is a great time to practice kindness and see just how much acts of kindness spread outwards, like a ripple effect.
Practicing kindness has so many layers of contagion. It is also an incredible way to distract yourself from your feelings of anxiety, panic or negative thinking.
If you find yourself freaking out about what’s going on, practice an act of kindness towards someone else.
Social network research reveals that when we feel happy, we infect our friends with happiness, and our friends’ friends and even on and outwards beyond to others we do not know.
Let’s say someone does something kind for you, you immediately feel better and are in turn far more likely to do something kind for someone else.
That person who showed you kindness has spread kindness, it has infected you and caused you to show kindness in turn, spreading it on to others.
In the same way, when you do something kind for someone, a family member, a friend or someone you do not know, your kindness is also infectious. It just keeps on spreading!
It really is like the ripples that occur when a pebble is dropped in a pond. Repercussions of kindness just keep coming.
That inspiration we feel when someone helps us, causes us to help someone else. Similarly, when someone helps us we may feel relief if we have been stressed or anxious. The alleviation of that stress has the effect of opening us up to be more kind to others.
Another very interesting way that kindness is contagious is through the act of observing others. When we see someone else being kind, this tells us instinctively that we should be doing the same, and therefore we are inspired by the behavior of others. This is referred to as social contagion.
A scientific study at Harvard discovered that acts of kindness spread surprisingly easily. Research, led by Professor Nicholas Christakis, asked volunteers to play a game known as the ‘Public Goods’ game.
The game involved each person having to put money into the public pot to benefit the whole community. The research revealed that when one person made a large donation into the pot, it caused others in the group to also make large donations in the next round of the game, played with different people. This created a domino effect in which the first person’s generosity spread initially to three people and then to the nine people that those three people interact with in the future, and then to other individuals in subsequent rounds of the experiment.
So don’t you think kindness may be natural to us?
In fact, cooperation, collaboration, and working together is something our genetic ancestors have done for hundreds of thousands of years. If not they would not have survived. They understood that without kindness and compassion, they would not survive.
We can see this in our genetics, evolution has hardwired us to be kind.
Empathy, sympathy, and compassion are what have made us thrive as societies. Neuroscience shows us that we are wired to reflect others’ experiences. A part of our brain lights up when we feel empathy, we are naturally inclined to care about other people.
It is wrong to assume that humans are inherently selfish and don’t care about others. Much of the world is set up to show us that it is ok to gain at the expense of someone else. This is quite apparent in the way our competitive businesses work.
We focus on being bigger, stronger and better than others, but perhaps the solution to many of the world’s economic challenges lies in cooperation, not competition. Working together builds from kindness.
So today, in the midst of all the global mayhem, why not just be kind? ☝🏼
Be kind from your own small patch of the world. It does make a difference.
Help your family, friends, and community wherever and however you can.
Check-in on your nearest and dearest by phone call, text or email. Help an older or more vulnerable person in your community by delivering groceries to their door.
Check-in with those who you know may be struggling.
And don’t forget to be kind to yourself.
Take some time to breathe, meditate, go within. 🧘🏻♂️
Can we dare to think we may emerge from this world-changing time more together than ever? Kinder and more cooperative as a human race?
All I know is individually what we do counts, so let’s practice kindness and compassion. ✨