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Be Kind. Live Longer.

Updated: Nov 27, 2019

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou 

When Kindness Strikes

Have you watched ‘When They See Us’ on Netflix? It is about the Central Park Five – five boys who were wrongly accused and convicted for a violent rape and assault in Central Park in 1989. It is tough but compelling viewing. I watched it recently and was surprised by what struck me the most.

Corey, the eldest of the five and the only one sent to prison, is the focus of the final episode. We are given a glimpse of the reality of his life in prison and the many power dynamics at play. We are shown how some guards abuse that power. The violence at times was hard to watch and I had to look away. But strikingly it was the kindness that one guard showed Corey that brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes.

In one scene Corey asks this guard “Why are you being so nice to me man?” The guard replies “I got a boy back home. If what happened to you happened to him I’d want to know someone was treating him like a human being”. So simple. So powerful. So memorable. Acts of violence often evoke strong reactions but in this series, the simple acts of kindness, of doing something nice for this prisoner, struck me the hardest.

The Cost of Kindness

It costs nothing to be kind to another human being. To see them for who they are and to meet them wherever they are at. Kindness is the only thing in the world that doubles when you share it[1]. Research shows that the benefits of kindness include living longer. You can be kind anywhere – at work, at home, on your commute, in a café, on the street – anytime.

The Kindness of Strangers

In Sept 2018 I was walking in rural Portugal. A man stopped his car, rolled down the window and said to me "Santiago?" I nodded and maybe mumbled yes (I was really hot and tired). He reached over to the passenger seat to get something and then handed me a small plastic bag with two apples and a cold bottle of water. I was so touched. I was grateful, smiled and thanked him. He drove off. That act of kindness changed my whole day, my whole demeanour and gave me the impetus I needed to put a smile back on my face.

Be Kind to Yourself

And always remember to be kind to yourself. According to Kristin Neff Ph.D., who is one of the world’s leading experts on self-compassion, “With self-compassion, we give ourselves the same kindness and care we’d give to a good friend.” Her website provides tools and resources to practice self-compassion.

If you want to know more about the benefits of kindness there is a link here to a short animated video I enjoyed https://youtu.be/O9UByLyOjBM. I hope you do too!

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