There is always room for more kindness.
And yet, in telling ourselves that the world needs more kindness, we run the risk of missing all the kindness that we already have.
Not the only story
It is true that there is a lot of darkness and cruelty in the world right now. Near and far from home there are terrible things happening and people are treating each other appallingly. The world certainly needs less unkindness.
However, the dark stuff isn’t the only story.
We have recently been able to increase the number of kindness stories we’re sharing on the Time for Kindness social media feeds and website to 2 stories almost every day. I was so excited when my fabulous social media manager got in touch to tell me that. There are also plenty of other sources of positive, kind stories if you look for them. So we’re not alone in sharing a different view.
I am delighted that the number of people telling us about kindness is increasing. But I’m not actually surprised that there are so many things for them to tell us about. Since I set up the programme nearly 3 years ago, I have been driven by the belief – nay, certainty – that there were lots of examples to share. I just needed to find them.
We still have a long way to go to increase conversations about kindness in the world and boost people’s belief and confidence in it. But we are seeing movement and that is in itself a joy.
I, like many others, believe that where you focus your attention and your energy becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So while it’s fantastic to think that the amount of kindness in the world can grow, spending time on noticing kind people and actions already happening could actually drive that growth. Plus, it feels better than focussing on what’s lacking.
A significant proportion of people in the UK are turning away from the news completely (46% according to the Reuters Digital News report in 2022), due to the negative impact it has on their mood. Shutting off completely has negative consequences in itself. So clearly we need to find ways to rebalance the story we have about our world and the way we treat each other in it.
That’s why my work is focussed on the principle of ’see kind’, rather than ‘be kind’.
The response to the work we do at Time for Kindness is overwhelmingly positive. This is true whether the feedback comes as a result of reading our kindness stories, hearing me speak on a podcast or attending one of my ‘power of seeing kindness’ wellbeing workshops. I love to hear that what we do is inspiring positivity and hope. And in many cases, changing lives.
From see kind to be kind
I am convinced that a by-product of encouraging people to see kind is likely to be more acts of kindness too. One of our newest voluntary Kindness Ambassadors recently told me:
I actually think it’s making me kinder too!! Being kind is more front of mind, I love it!
Once you have learnt techniques for noticing more of what’s going on around you, you see the world differently. And when you hear about positive things that people do for each other, that might inspire you with ideas of things you can do too.
You might also start to think differently about the things you are doing. Sometimes I find that people struggle with recognising kindness, especially in themselves, because it is “just what you do” or “they’re just doing their job”.
We have conversations to help them realise that those actions are not necessarily what everyone would do or that something can be kind as well as being what you do. It doesn’t have to be either/or. And once you re-categorise in that way, you see there is more kindness there than you thought.
So next time you find yourself saying ‘the world needs to be kinder, the world needs more kind people’, why not pause for a moment? Remind yourself that while there is always room for improvement, we do have more than we know already.
I understand that this is a new way of thinking for a lot of people, so if you would like me to talk on this topic at your event – to inspire and motivate your audience – get in touch so we can discuss how we can work together.