I was contacted on Instagram a couple of days ago and invited onto our local radio show for a chat about positivity. It was a huge compliment to be asked, and of course I accepted – a huge part of the blog now is about wellbeing and my belief that we should throw kindness around like confetti as often as we can, with small acts of kindness and the like.
If I’m honest though, I found it really hard. I didn’t tell anyone because I couldn’t face the additional pressure of knowing people I’ll bump into in everyday life might hear me fluff it. So I quietly prepared and then went for it because I knew I’d be silly not to.
In the event, host Helen Scott was wonderful and I really had nothing to worry about. We had a casual chat about all things positivity, and then I had a fantastic opportunity to plug My Positivity Project:
My Positivity Project Wellbeing Journal
Our conversation got me thinking about when I took part in a charitable scheme a few years ago, to carry out a random act of kindness and then to blog about it.
I first had to choose what my kind deed would be. But, after reading through the suggestions, I have to confess – I found myself a bit stuck: none of them really floated my boat.
I found them either too trite or twee, or…something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I just felt a bit uncomfortable about each of them – and I also felt pretty bad about that too! So I ruminated on why; my husband thinks I over-analyse, but I think it’s a strength to be aware of your own faults and to try to fix them.
Anxiety About My Random Act of Kindness
I forced myself to consider precisely what I was not feeling good about. And I came to a sad realisation:
In our society, kindness is often viewed with suspicion.
Essentially, it was my social anxiety causing me to cringe at the idea of putting myself out there to be kind, and potentially being knocked back. Which is a bit pathetic, I know. But think about it for a moment; as a woman, if I tried to buy coffee for the guy behind me in the queue, would he be most likely to think a) this lady is very generous, or b) this lady wants to make rudies with me? Exactly…
Equally, if a random woman tried to buy me a coffee, I know I’d be wondering ‘what’s the catch?’. And I hate being beholden to anyone, so I imagine I’d thank my would-be benefactor and politely demur. I might just be ‘unique’ (weird), but that would likely be my default reaction.
With all that in mind, I was left feeling quite apprehensive about how best to perform my random act of kindness. Should I make it easy on myself and go for something anonymous, whereby I could negate the risk of awkward rejection?
Or, should I put myself out there, and leave room for a genuine human connection in the process?
This had just become a personal challenge! So, in the name of a good cause, I got out of my comfort zone.
Random Acts of Kindness – Campaign For Humanity
I thought of the lady I regularly see selling the The Big Issue and I went into the nearest cafe and bought her a coffee. I panicked when I was asked what drink I wanted.
What if she’d not eaten, and like me, caffeine on an empty stomach would make her nauseous? Does she take sugar? Would she look at me with contempt because I hadn’t asked her whether she’d prefer tea? Should I also buy her a cookie? Cake? Pastry? I settled on coffee and a fiver – so she could choose her own food (and replacement beverage if necessary).
It was winter and, in the end, I think she was simply grateful for the brief respite from the intense cold. She thanked me, it was completely fine.
Educating Myself on Facts About Homelessness
I found myself quite affected by the experience. I’ve always been quite uncomfortable around homeless people, viewing them as a potential threat. That’s not to say I don’t feel sadness for their predicament; I do. But particularly as a mother, my primary concern is the safety of my children. That may be ignorant, I acknowledge that. But also it has to be my overarching priority.
Incidentally, I’ve since watched a fascinating programme about homelessness which was very enlightening, and did validate some of my concerns around the wider homeless community. Whilst I appreciate we shouldn’t tar all with the same brush, I feel my wariness is justified in many situations. For facts about homelessness go here.
For the longest time I’d been meaning to look into The Big Issue to find out more about the foundation. Turns out it’s a really fantastic initiative, and definitely something we should be supporting if we can – not something to be viewed with suspicion or distrust. So I was grateful to have been prompted into educating myself.
That’s why I’m now working on a new t-shirt design for which I’ll be pledging to donate 50% of profits to worthy charities in the sector.
Think Better, Live Better… Feel Better
I was also acutely aware of a nagging thought in the back of my mind – a viewpoint my wise brother (grudging admission) once presented me with. It’s actually very obvious, but a perspective I’d never really seen until it was pointed out…
Too often, this suspicious society thinks in terms of ‘mine’ and ‘earned’ and ‘deserved’. I was guilty of doing the same. However –
It’s mine only because I’m fortunate enough to live in a country where it’s available; it’s earned only because I’m lucky enough to have been provided with the education and opportunities required to acquire a paying job. And I’m not certain it’s deserved at all; or, if it is, it’s only because I’m human – which means that those less privileged are equally deserving.
I also realised I wasn’t totally comfortable writing about a ‘good deed’ I’d performed. I didn’t want a virtual pat on the back in recognition of simply being a decent human being – something we should all aspire to, and endeavour to deliver as a matter of course.
But taking part publicly resulted in a charitable donation being made, and it’s good to talk about these things, to educate ourselves, and to normalise kindness and simply being human.
Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti
On a personal level, the best thing about being approached to get involved with the project is that it made me think about how I can be a better person all of the time. Even if it was a little unnatural or uncomfortable to begin with. It was quite a humbling experience.
The way I see it, the more kindness is around us, the more normalised it becomes – as it should be.
That’s the sort of world I want to raise my daughter in, and so I’ve made the decision to make small acts of kindness a new regular feature in my life. I hope you’ll join me?