Acts of Kindness
May 1, 2020
It all started after lock down was announced, both me and my partner were adjusting to working from home with our 3 year old boy Leo. I’m sure we are just like many other families across the Bradford District and across the world finding this extremely challenging for the 3 of us.
I noticed the impact this was having on our child’s mental health, he was no longer seeing his nursery friends, teachers or his close family members. He started to revert back to some early toddler behaviours.
One thing he did want to do everyday was to dress up in one of his super hero costumes and was asking me to be Bumblebee from Transformers (a must watch btw). Little did he know daddy had a Bumblebee costume that had been going dusty in the garage for the past 3 years from my nephews fancy dress party! He nearly passed out when he walked into the house from the garden to see Bumblebee stood there.
As lockdown continued I found myself reading more posts on our residents Facebook group in a bid to keep in touch with the outside world. I noticed some of the similar challenges families were having with their children, all so familiar to my current situation. I asked Leo if he would like to go out with Bumblebee and wave to the other children and make them happy. He was well up for this, “I will dress up as Spiderman for the children” he said proudly. I posted on the group for the neighbours to give Bumblebee and Spiderman a wave that afternoon. The neighbourhood seemed really happy about this, we set off out at the agreed time and people were coming to their gardens waving, some children were so happy it drew them to tears! The messages we received from parents and carers were so kind and they appreciated this act of kindness so much.
In some ways I have lockdown to thank as it was one evening I was looking for something new to read and found a book called How to be happy, 10 keys to Happier Living by Vanessa King. This book talks about acts of kindness and it resonated with me and the things I do day to day, it also made me realise the 100’s of examples I see across Bradford District everyday. It was because of this I was compelled to set up the acts of kindness 2020 Facebook page and offer Bumblebee visits across Bradford. The requests soon came flooding in and within 3 hours I had 100 requests. Sometimes the smallest of gestures can make such a difference and bring so much happiness, as Bumblebee took to the streets of Bradford I was about to learn all about this.
Whilst we all try to deal with the challenges, the shocks, the grief, the fear and anxiety that has come with the current pandemic and as everyone adjusts to new ways of living its a great time to learn about acts of kindness as it can help us mentally deal with things. I would strongly recommend Vanessa’s book, its a great read and puts into perspective how simple some acts of kindness can be. It’s about giving and it’s one of the first keys to happier living, may seem strange to some putting other peoples happiness first, rather than our own but giving and being kind can be powerful. Happiness is best achieved ‘sideways on’. ‘Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you’
We may think giving is about money or things, but there are many ways to give that don’t involve either, such as helping or being kind. In essence, giving is an act of thoughtfulness for another person, a moment of attention, caring and connection. Here are some examples of different ways we can give that don’t involve money:
- Be Kind, whether you know them or not: strangers, family, friends, colleagues neighbours, whether old or young or those in need, both close to home or far away.
- Give time, such as offering your skills, sharing your knowledge or resources or loyalty, or just being there to list
- Help others in good time as well as in bad. This might mean helping someone to learn and grow, to develop ideas or to make and build relationships.
- Cut people some slack. When someone (for example a colleague or family member) is having a hard time and is causing difficulties for others, be generous and ‘give’ by backing off and letting them have the benefit of the doubt.
- As part of your routine, such as making a habit of calling in on an elderly neighbour or mentoring a colleague.
- Small or simple acts. Giving doesn’t always take huge amounts of effort. It can be easy and quick as voicing a kind or encouraging thought, giving your attention for a moment, gracing someone else with your smile or thoughtful gesture.
- Acts we plan in advance, such as doing something special for a friend or neighbour, training for a sponsored run, organising a charity event, or helping a friend move house or clear their overgrown garden.
- Spur-of-the-moment acts, whenever you notice a need. This might be just picking up someone’s dropped glove, or an unprompted act of generosity such as letting another driver take a parking space ahead of you. It can be making someone laugh or simply listening to them. Or dressing up as a transformer lol!
Dressing up as Bumblebee and making other people happy was my way of coping with the brink of a mental breakdown, my act of kindness helped me by helping others. It also encouraged others to come out and do similar acts of kindness during these difficult times.
I would like to specially thank the following:
My partner Charlotte Keogan for being an amazing mum to our son and supporting me through difficult times.
Leo who has been amazing throughout his Spiderman role and throughout lockdown, a very special thank you to him.
My younger sister Cherelle Peters for getting Bumblebee across the district when the requests came flooding in and rushing me back home to continue with my work.
My colleague Zahra Niazi for asking me to do this blog and for sharing the action for kindness resource, this is where I discovered the book.
Dennis Rowe who listened to me and supported me in many ways, this allowed me to carryout this act of kindness.
Colleague and friend Richard Dunbar for kindly supporting my act of kindness, Bumblebee.
BCB Radio for airing my act of kindness.
The T&A for sharing my act of kindness and blowing my cover revealing who Bumblebee really is, lol! loved that.
Finally I would like to thank Vanessa King who is a board member at Action for Happiness and author of 10 keys to happier living.
Pause for a moment now and ask yourself these questions:
- In what ways, small or large, have you helped or given to other people in the last few weeks?
- What triggered you to help or give?
- What impact or reaction did your generosity have on the recipient(s)?
- What impact did helping have on you?
I have pulled extracts from the book and included in my blog, you can read lots more and find out about the scientific evidence behind it all in the book: https://www.actionforhappiness.org/book e version is £0.99
My acts of kindness page is on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/actofkindness2020/
I like this quote ‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give’ Winston Churchill
Thank you for taking the time in reading my blog, I leave you with a video below from a TEDx talk by Vanessa King.
Remember to be kind to yourself 🙂
Cain Lewis, Programme Support and Engagement Officer.