A couple of weeks ago I was in an airport lounge and got a little too excited at the soup station and managed to bring an entire stack of bowls crashing down and smashing all over the floor. As you can imagine it was mortifying and there was a good deal of time where I stood there not really knowing what to do as I surveyed the smashed crockery and horrified look of fellow passengers as they stopped dead in their tracks and stared at me. Except for one beautiful soul who quickly knelt down beside me, told me not to worry and started to help me clean up the pieces of the broken bowls. The whole incident was not more than a minute or two long, but in that moment I could not have felt more touched by the simple act of kindness shown by a single traveller. I will probably never see that lady again but because of her genuine act of kindness I will remember her forever and now be much more likely to kneel down with someone when they have a spill because of her kind gesture.
Showing kindness is unfortunately not so common in modern life – we refuse to let people push ahead of us in traffic, if someone falls we look away or to our phones instead of helping and we forget that most of us are just doing the best we can with life on a daily basis. Yet, despite the fact that so many of us seek to be better people and live better lives, we forget how powerful the simple act of kindness is when it comes to health and well-being.
Positive psychology research Dr Barbara Fredrickson suggested some time ago via her ‘Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions’ that the simple act of positive thinking and doing helps to open neural pathways linked to health and happiness long term. On the other hand, negative thought patterns and emotions reduce cognitive pathways and leave us less able to structure thought patterns in a positive way. Such a theory suggests that any activity that induces positive emotions helps us to think better and behave in a more positive and forward thinking way. So while not letting someone in when driving may feel good initially, we are actually just doing the world and ourselves a disservice by not seeking out kindness as our driving force.
For some time now I have been on the Simple Skincare Advisory Board and last week the brand launched a new product, Micellar Water – a simple, natural make up remover. As part of this event, the #simpleacts project was also launched. #simpleacts encourages all of us to promote kindness and positivity on a daily basis by actively giving back via kind acts where possible. It may be giving someone your parking ticket; it may be sending flowers to a friend who is down or it may just be a find smile to a stranger who is clearly struggling with their day. #simpleacts is a reminder that we can all collectively contribute to making the world a kinder, happier, more compassionate place via #simpleacts on a daily basis.
And taking this idea a step further, #simpleacts is also about being kind to ourselves – nurturing our bodies with good food; caring for our skin and caring for our souls with daily simple pleasures to make the most of what life presents us with. Too often we focus on what is wrong and what we are lacking, rather than thinking about what we have and what is good. A daily #simpleact of actively being kind to self not only looks after your own soul and ensures it is at its best to share your kindness with others, and then everyone benefits.