Day One – Kind Words

Day One - Kind Words

So our Kindness Challenge has kicked off with some early morning kind words being shared with our neighbours and family members 🙂

How are you going to spread your kind words today??

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The Health Benefits of Kindness :)

The health benefits of kindness

In our “what’s in it for me” society, kindness is a rarity. As most of us view the costs (in terms of time, efforts, and so on) of helping someone else to outweigh the benefits, we simply don’t bother. But research suggests altruism may not be completely selfless after all. In fact, the helper may benefit more than the person being helped.

Studies show that helping others contributes to the maintenance of good health and it can diminish the effect of diseases and disorders. According to The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, some of these benefits include:

  • A rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm, after performing a kind act is often referred to as a “helper’s high”, involving physical sensations and the release of the body’s natural painkillers, the endorphins. This initial rush is then followed by a longer-lasting period of improved emotional wellbeing.
  • Stress-related health problems improve after performing kind acts. Helping reverses feelings of depression, supplies social contact, and decreases feelings of hostility and isolation that can cause stress, overeating, ulcers, etc. A drop in stress may, for some people, decrease the constriction within the lungs that leads to asthma attacks.
  • Helping can enhance our feelings of joyfulness, emotional resilience, and vigour, and can reduce the unhealthy sense of isolation.
  • A decrease in both the intensity and the awareness of physical pain can occur.
  • The incidence of attitudes, such as chronic hostility, that negatively arouse and damage the body is reduced.
  • The health benefits and sense of well-being return for hours or even days whenever the helping act is remembered.
  • An increased sense of self-worth, greater happiness, and optimism, as well as a decrease in feelings of helplessness and depression, is achieved.
  • Once we establish an “affiliative connection” with someone – a relationship of friendship, love, or some sort of positive bonding – we feel emotions that can strengthen the immune system.
  • Adopting an altruistic lifestyle is a critical component of mental health.
  • The practice of caring for strangers translates to immense immune and healing benefits.
  • Regular club attendance, volunteering, entertaining, or faith group attendance is the happiness equivalent of getting a degree or more than doubling your income.

It’s not necessary to carry out monumental acts of kindness to experience these benefits either. In fact it has been found that brief, small, regular acts of kindness lead to the highest levels of wellbeing. It has also been found that such small, pleasurable experiences can more than offset any negative health effects brought about by life’s stressful events, regardless of their magnitude.

But what exactly are “brief, small, regular acts of kindness” and how do you incorporate them into your already-crammed schedule?

Kindness kick-starters

It’s not difficult to incorporate kindness into your everyday life. You don’t even really have to put time aside to do so. Simply do it while you’re doing something else. Of course, you may start small and find you enjoy it so much that you clear some time in your schedule to do something bigger. But for now, here are a few ideas that you can start doing today:

  • Smile and say “hello” to someone you don’t know. This could be someone at work, the grocery store, or another traffic-frustrated commuter.
  • Let someone jump the queue. If you’re standing in line at the bank, the canteen, or the shop and you notice someone who seems to be in a hurry, why not let him or her jump the queue?
  • Let someone merge traffic. You know the feeling when you’re stuck in the wrong lane and no one will give you a gap. Be the gap giver.
  • Treat a stranger. Leave enough money in the vending machine for the next person to get a free treat.
  • Share the load. Help someone who is struggling with heavy bags or lots to carry.
  • Treat someone to fresh fruit. It’s healthy, it’s delicious, and it may just make someone’s day!
  • Write a thank you note to someone who has influenced your life positively. Everyone appreciates the knowledge that they have made an impact on someone else.
  • Hand out kindness coupons. Give friends and family kindness coupons they can redeem for kind favour.
  • Drop off a plant or cookies at your local police station. These men and women are often only confronted with the negative aspects of life. Show them that you appreciate their contribution to your community.
  • Organise a clothing drive at work. Most people have items they want to discard of but often don’t have the time or don’t know where it is needed. Ask them to bring it to work and then drop it off at a shelter or charity organisation.

These are just a few ideas to get you going. Try it, or any other thought of generosity, for one week and notice what happens as a consequence. Chances are you’ll notice that kindness has a way of catching on!

With all the benefits kindness lends to mind and body, you stand to reap major rewards. So start being kind today!

Sharing some tea & a chat in Harfield Village

23 July 2013 - kindness

So on Tuesday Cayden, a good friend of his and I set out armed with muffins, inspirational notes & tea ready to share some kindness around our neighbourhood.

We got to meet Thomas a homeless man who has a one day a week job but is struggling to find other work, Louise a mom of two who begs at the robot near our local Spar to feed herself and her children and Charlotte a lady who is living under a shop door trying to get shelter at night from the rain.

It was great to be able to warm them up a little with a hot cup of tea and to just sit down and have a small chat with them. It is so easy to forget that they are humans just like us that have a name and a story!

To end of a successful afternoon of kindness the kids decided by themselves to pick up a bunch of rubbish from the pavement and toss it in the bin.
What a perfect world it would be if every kid grew up wanting to help others and the planet!

Mandela Day – 2013

So with our kindness drive Mandela Day fit in perfectly with our mission to infect the world with Kindness and instead of just sticking to the ‘required’ 67 mins of kindness we made a day of it!

While Cayden was at school I started off the morning at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital (http://www.westerncape.gov.za/your_gov/5981) visiting two of the wards and playing with the children there. As a mother of two boys it was absolutely heartbreaking to see so many sick kids, however the Red Cross has an amazing volunteer program and big ups to all the volunteers that spend hours there each week just bringing a smile to these sick children. 

Then after school Cayden and I went through to Operation Smile’s offices in Woodstock (http://southafrica.operationsmile.org/). What an awesome organisation:- Operation Smile South Africa provides free surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities for children around the globe! 

Cayden was super proud to be the first kid to volunteer there on Mandela Day and was keen to get started. So we started packing Smile Bags (gift bags that each child receives after the operation is over). Cayden took great care in choosing toys that he thought were pretty awesome and the boys would particularly like and packed more Smile Bags than any of the other volunteers there. He worked tirelessly for 2 hours before decided to move on to another area before we had to leave. 

We ended up in the ‘creative corner’ where they had scraps of material, needle, thread etc and anyone could just make whatever they liked to be included in the smile bags and given to the children. The sweetest thing was that Cayden wanted to know if we had to pay to make something there…. Needless to say 45mins later when we really needed to get home I had to drag him away with must protesting. His final words being when we come back here again can we come on a Saturday so I don’t have to go to school first and we can stay all day! 

After a day fulled with fun, gratitude and kindness it was great to know that it was just another day for us and that our acts of kindness were not just saved for once a year, people often get so caught up in the ‘Mandela Day’ vibe that they forget that there are 364 other days in the year that we can help other people on. 

So here is to making everyday a Mandela Day and being the change we want to see in the World!!

 

Holiday in Knysna

What a great week away in Knysna spending time with Cayden’s grandparents. I must say I was struck by the wonderful close knit community feel of this ‘small town’. People where so friendly and willing to help out.

We had quiet a few opportunities to share the kindness and a few ones stick out as particularly cool 🙂

On our last full day in Knysna we took Cayden to explore the caves by the Heads in Knysna. He was quiet excited and secretly hoping to find some hidden treasure (we had just been reading Enid Blyton’s Valley of Adventure which is about finding awesome treasure in hidden caves!). So he was super excited when he found a wallet which had fallen down into one of the narrow dark crevices in one of the caves. He excitedly showed us all when he came home and was happy to find that the owner of the wallet had put a piece of paper in it with his name and cell number on it. 

We managed to get in contact with the owner and found out it was a young boy who had lost his wallet a short while ago and we made a plan to drop it off on our way back home the next day. The boy was so grateful to get his wallet back that he said Cayden should treat himself to an ice cream with some of the money in his wallet as a thank you for being so honest and giving it back to him.

So we met up with the boys brother on our way home yesterday and was amazed to hear that the day before (when Cayden found the wallet) the boy who the wallet belonged to had rubbed the Knysna’s good luck charm, Bondi’s, nose and wished for his wallet to be found. What a happy ending and we got to end the holiday on a high note!

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Kindness in Knysna

So this morning we had the pleasure of going up to a township school in Knysna with Cayden’s Grandmother, Shelley.

Shelley runs a amazing feeding program for children in Knysna and the surrounding areas (http://www.epapfeeding.co.za/) and organised for us to go up to one of the schools where she distributes Epap.

We took along some biscuits to decorate and some toys to play with and had a fantastic morning playing with the children. 

Cayden helped them make racing cars and marie biscuit faces. We then headed outdoors and blew bubbles for the kids to chase and made puzzles.

It was such a wonderful morning watching the children play together. Most of the kids could only speak Xhosa and a couple of kids Afrikaans as well as Xhosa so communication was challenging but it is amazing how kids can really connect with each other even if they don’t speak the same language.

I left the school feeling so grateful for the opportunities and things that I so often take for granted and was truly amazed at how friendly, patient and well behaved the children at the school where. They made the biscuits and then had to wait about 45 minutes before they could eat them but none of them nagged or tried to sneak a bite at all they just patiently waited. They were so cheerful and thankful for the time and treats we had given them it is a good lesson for those of us who have so much but are still not ‘happy’ with what we have.

Sometimes the simplest pleasures in life are the most precious!

Check out our facebook page to see the rest of the pics – http://www.facebook.com/CaydensKindness

Going Global!

Going Global!

So my fabulous brother Bruce left for London town yesterday and we asked if he would distribute some books along the way for us.

We bought four small booklets and wrote a message in the front page.

The idea is that the books are left in public places and the note asks that they write down one thing that made them smile that day. They then leave the book in another public place for someone else to find 🙂

We are super excited about the thought of our journey being shared around the world and have encouraged people to take a pic and post it in twitter so that we can follow the journey online.

This is our first pic!

Bruce gave the first booklet to two Ugandan ladies that were on the same flight as him.

Cant wait to follow the books on twitter!

#kindcayden