Kindness is Everywhere
“Kindness is everywhere. You just have to notice it” she said.
I was in the middle of a busy hospital ward and asked a patient what she would say to someone in the hospital having a tough day.
Those words stayed with me, nudging me to notice the kindness that really is everywhere. I went on to work in many more wards in the hospital seeing time and time again the kindness in the little everyday human things, often passing by unnoticed hidden and under-celebrated.
These seemingly small, everyday actions, have the power to change the course of someones life and also our world.
I had some questions…
What is kindness? How can you describe it? How can you make something invisible visible? How can we notice it more? How can we celebrate kindness more?
Seeking answers I created The Department of Kindness.
In the middle of a dark January, nestled in a busy hospital atrium, The Dept of Kindness became a reality, a physical place to think about Kindness and what it means.
A community grew around it, over 700 people stepped inside to share, what kindness means to them and report an ‘Incident of Kindness’ they had experienced or witnessed. People stopped by on their lunch break or on their way to appointments to read the stories shared inside and experience the heart glow they inspire/provoke.
Together we built a new culture; a culture that celebrates, values and encourages kindness– knowing that kindness can change everything.
Many of the stories shared described incidents happening in specific places around the hospital. I created Blue Plaques to celebrate what they described and installed them where they happened. The plaques are markers of small kindnesses that are everywhere, inspiring and encouraging new incidents of kindness. Once you start noticing kindness you can stop seeing it, you get kindness googles, you want more kindness, to see more and do more – It ripples out.
Over the next few months, I led creative kindness workshops around the hospital using the power of creativity to hold conversations and make something intangible tangible. In these creative conversations we explored:
What does it mean to be kind to yourself? How do you do it?
What stop us from being kind to ourselves?
What can you do to make it a bit easier to be kinder to yourself?
This truth came out time and time again – You are often the hardest person to be kind to.
A hospital is an environment full of caring professionals with a huge kindness output, it highlighted the importance of a kindness input.
Showing kindness to yourself is the same as kindness to others. It is made up of the small things, it is a practice of little things which add up to the big things.
So how can you increase your kindness input and start to be kinder to yourself?
It starts with permission. Giving yourself permission to prioritise you, to put yourself first and make time for the things that support you. Then sharing permission, offering it to someone else, You inspire others by taking it yourself, each time making it easier for others to do the same. Together we can begin to cultivate a little more self-compassion.
If we want a kinder world (and we really need one) we have to start being kinder to ourselves. It’s not selfish it’s vital. We need kindness more than ever, but that starts with you. When you practise self-kindness it ripples out.
“Be kinder to yourself. Then let that kindness flood the world.” – Pema Chodron
The next phase of The Dept of Kindness is all about building on what we learnt. Starting with self-kindness and how that ripples out to change our world. Find out more about the project here.