|Not Quite Singing in the Rain! - Maria A Smith|
Something as simple as a smile, or making sure someone has a seat, or having a chat with them can transform their experience and possibly their life and yours too. You really don't know where kindness to others is going to lead. We're all wired to be kind, and witnessing kindness inspires kindness, making it infectious.
There's a blog devoted to acts of kindness, set up by Bernadette Russel, who is also the author of The Little Book of Kindness. In 2011, London was experiencing terrifying rioting and unrest, people were getting hurt and the news was full of bad things. Bernadette was deeply unhappy with things that were happening in the world around her, so in August 2011 she was in a Post Office queue and in front of her was a young man with his hood up, eyes down, someone a lot of people would not approach because right then they were scared. He looked like a rioter.
He thought his letter was free post only to discover it wasn't. He said he's come back later. Bernadette doesn't know why she did it but she paid his postage for him. He was so grateful, and happy. Bernadette went home feeling good about her actions, it was her way of coping, and she decided that she was going to be kind to a stranger every day for a year, and recorded everything on her blog.
The blog is testament that being kind is good for all of us, it can be fun and it can change the way you see the world and others.
Getting back to writing groups, here are my tips for spreading kindness.
# Give Kind Comments - I don't mean you should gush about how good someones work is if it isn't, that's not it at all, what I'm saying is be constructive, but also find a few kind words, such as how their characters names fit the genre, or how well they've described something, or that what they've written is improved from when you last heard it. Tell them you're really glad they've bought their manuscript along today and you're looking forward to hearing more of it soon. Be encouraging.
# Be Kind to Unkind Folk - Always try to respond with kindness when someone is being unpleasant or rude, this will not only have a positive effect on you but it may also change their attitude and mood.
# Buy Someone a Coffee - This never fails to make people feel welcome and it's an opportunity for you to have a chat with them and share what you're working on. Chances are you may have something to offer each other.
# Do Something for Nothing - Yes, that's right, offer to help someone set their work out for a competition, or offer additional critique on a piece of their work, or perhaps help them with a synopsis.
# Say You're Sorry - Occasionally all of us feel angry or frustrated, and we'll take it out on those around us. Be brave and apologise, it'll make the person you're apologising to and you much happier.
# Smile - It's contagious and simple, so go on, spread some happiness around.
# Volunteer - Offer to run a workshop, lead the group, buddy up with new writers or whatever else needs doing to help the group run smoothly. Volunteering is good for you, it boosts mood and beats depression.
When you're kind to someone you feel closer to them, and it also makes you feel happy. Don't believe me? I challenge you to go out today and commit an act of random kindness, and when you have, do share it here in the comments.
Oh and if you're wondering about the image above, like how is it relevant? It isn't, it's me over the Bank Holiday weekend returning from a walk. The weather was a washout, but I managed to stay dry in my new waterproof trousers and mac.