This coming Sunday, November 13, 2022, is World Kindness Day, and tomorrow, November 8 is Election Day. Ironic, isn't it, that those two days fall within the same week of each other, considering how polarized politically, and seemingly, unkind we have become as a nation? Maybe it's my imagination, or maybe it's an idea that has just been fed by social media, but we appear to have become "kindness challenged." Many of us are upset about that and about the contempt and disdain coming from "both sides of the aisle," Is it a new thing? Sadly, no, but in recent years it seems to have been encouraged by those who were supposed to be leading us in the best interest of our nation. Now it appears we've reached a point that violence and threats of violence have become stronger and more accepted as a viable option for settling differences, while kindness seems to be disappearing.
How do you feel about that?
I know I feel sad and angry, but I admit that my feelings have likely increased in proportion to the amount of time I listened to TV news and social media. By taking a break from listening to those news venues over the past two weeks, though, I've discovered it had been interfering with my level of happiness, and it had also been making sleep more difficult. I wonder...might you discover the same thing for yourself?
Here is what I am choosing to do about that for myself: First, I've decided to continue taking a break from listening to the news, to test out the accuracy of my theory regarding if my happiness level and sleep patterns have been connected to what I've been hearing in the news. If you are a person who daily listens to the non-stop news being put out there, whether coming from the right or the left, what do you think would happen for you if you experimented with taking a break from it?
Second, in honor of World Kindness Day, I'm going to look for more ways to practice kindness. I'm going to, intentionally and consciously, practice smiling, encouraging, affirming, giving, and offering help to others.
Interestingly, in 2006, two neuroscientists, Jorge Moll and Jordan Grafman, with the National Institute of Health, showed that the pleasure centers in the brain light up when people even think about giving to a charitable cause or doing something kind. Those are the same parts of the brain that light up when people receive pleasure from eating good food or having good sex.
Another study was done that involved college students who were assigned to groups that: (A.) Either practiced and reported random acts of kindness over a 10-week period, or (B.) Simply reported the events of their week without focusing on acts of kindness. Those in group A were asked to do 5 acts of kindness each week, and they could all be done on one day or could be spread over the course of the week. Surprisingly, those who experienced the greatest increase in happiness were those who practiced all 5 acts on one day.
So, what do you think would happen if you were to practice more kindness? How might that affect your level of happiness? And what about celebrating World Kindness Day by looking for ways to express kindness?
One organization, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, has a goal to "Make Kindness the Norm." There are many ways of doing that. In fact, if you just Google "Random acts of kindness," it will take you to their website where there are numerous ideas for practicing kindness, including lesson plans and printable handouts for teachers about it.
For those who are followers of Jesus, we know that, ultimately, it's only the power of love that will triumph over the love of power. The love of power is all around us and seems to be even more noticeable during election season, but we don't have to accept it or perpetuate it. We can choose to practice kindness, even if it only seems to be a cup of love in a sea of hate. Only God knows how it would impact us individually, as well as globally, if we all make a choice to practice kindness.