I love working with teenagers. This year, having delivered resilience workshops in nine secondary schools, I have been humbled and inspired consistently by the students’ response when we discuss ‘random acts of kindness’. Many teenagers live in very challenging circumstances, yet they all are capable of being kind to others.
They told me their stories of raising money for charities - in and out of school - donating food to the homeless, helping out at home, looking after younger siblings, holding open doors for strangers or simply smiling (always a winner). And guess what? Without exception, they all recall that being kind “just plain feels good”.
Acts of kindness are not a panacea for all our woes but they are powerful and important. Mark Williamson, director and co-founder of Action for Happiness, reckons that they are important steps in towards wider change and that they have a contagious effect. “So when we carry out acts of kindness, other people see them and it sparks more kindness. If, for example, I’m friendly to the bus driver he’s more likely to be considerate to the next customer who’s more likely then to go home and have a positive conversation with their partner.” He also thinks that by doing small things you are more likely to get involved in other bigger pro-social ways too. “So rather than these small acts undermining bigger social change, they actually help to support and encourage it.”
Check out Radio 5 Breakfast Show on Friday mornings as they run the theme of ‘friendly Friday’– counteracting the usual barrage of negative stories with kindness stories. They share some lovely stories.
And enjoy Yasmin J’s 20 random acts of kindness - How She Celebrated her 20th birthday.
“Ask yourself: have you been kind today? Make Kindness your modus operandi and change your world” Annie Lennox