The world at the moment is a confusing one and you could be forgiven for thinking humanity was regressing socially, taking backward steps in our emotional, mental and moral evolution.
I read the news every day, doing my best to stay up to date with current events, reading reports from a plethora of different sources so that I can form an opinion based on the viewpoint of more than one person or section of society, allowing me to hear all arguments and create my own stand point based on that.
With this effort to read the news daily comes – nowadays – an all too regular shaking of the head, casting of eyes to the floor and a sigh of despair as I wonder what is happening to this species of ours. Regression, as I said, is fast moving in the direction of a time that so many of us had hoped was left inside the pages of history books.
Having this onslaught of negativity thrown at us on a daily basis, from every direction (made easier by the mobile devices that are with us for most hours of the day ensuring current affairs are constantly accessible) it is easy to become overwhelmed. To see and hear so much bad that the good appears to be losing in the battle of light against darkness. However, it is important not to lose faith; there are SO many good people, kind hearts and loving minds in the world, it’s just that these aren’t always considered newsworthy and so they remain just out of view.
Having been blind-sided by another news story this morning in which humans in positions of power have chosen to treat animals as nothing more than game, I have decided instead to battle the feeling of disappointment that has followed me around this past few hours and counteract it by talking about the goodness of us Homo sapiens because, for the most part, we’re actually incredible creatures.
In the past few months, as part of my bedtime routine, I have begun thinking about my day and naming 5 things that I have been grateful for. Such a simple thing, but it means that no matter how bad my day might have been, I’ve fallen asleep with a feeling of contentment and a head full of happy thoughts.
So, when I read that Oxfam were focussing on acts of kindness people have afforded each other, I thought, that’s what I’m going to blog about today! Those little things that leave you with a fuzzy feeling of warmth in your chest and a skip in your step; the perfect antidote to a world that feels like it has lost its way!
Tokens and Thoughts
When, at the beginning of this year, I found out I had Cancer and needed a couple of small operations to have it removed, I couldn’t believe the kindness, support and love I was shown. I was snowed under with messages, cards, and had so many little unexpected gifts in the post that I was truly overwhelmed. I am a person who – having been both bullied at school and in an abusive relationship – has a constant fear that people don’t like me, and to see so many people rallying around and telling me they were there for me completely blew my mind. In those days and weeks – which were pretty dark for me – I never once felt alone. I really am surrounded by the best people, I count myself very lucky for that.
Another one from when I was on crutches following my surgeries, but one that I think will always remain with me – the kindness of strangers when I was commuting. Having the natural balance of a weeble anyway, being on crutches was hard work for me, and commuting for over 2.5 hours a day was intense. However, the amount of people who stopped to help me, gave up their seats, or – in the case of one woman – refused to leave me until I had got off the train, walked down the platform and out of the busy commuter area – was really touching. It always makes my heart sing when I see a happy, friendly and kind interaction between strangers, and being the recipient of it during those few weeks made my heart swell.
An Unexpected Upgrade
There is a whole blog post coming on this soon, but in the past couple of weeks I won a competition to spend a night at The Savoy in London. We originally were to stay there in one of their hotel rooms, however, upon arrival we found that we had been upgraded to a 1-bedroom suite. This tiny detail, this one act of kindness, resulted in me being close to tears as I became overwhelmed with the sheer joy and gratitude I felt. They needn’t have done that, I would have been happy simply being under their roof for the night, but it made my day, my week, my year!
Tolerating My TV Choices
This one’s for Ben – I have a very specific interest when it comes to TV viewing: true crime, animals, and cooking. Walk into my house at any given time and, if I’m sat in front of the TV, it will be one of those things gracing my screens. Despite having never been a viewer of those genres previous to us getting together, Ben will now sit and watch them with me, record any programmes I’m going to miss if I’m out, and send me links to upcoming shows he thinks I’d be interested in, indulging my interests even though they aren’t his own.
Donating What You Can
This act of kindness isn’t one that relates to me on a personal level as such, but is extremely relevant and follows on from my previous post “Give A Little Of Yourself: What You Can Donate… That Isn’t Money” where I talked about donations of thing like blood, bone marrow, sperm/eggs, organs etc (visit that post for more info) but if you do have a little money spare at the end of the month and want to do some good with it, there’s so many charitable organisations you can donate to! I’m not going to write a list here as there are so many out there and there’s no way I could include every one, but think about what is important to you and what you hold close to your heart, then look for a charity that works within that sector. You can also donate household items, clothes etc at local charity shops, so if you’re having a post-Christmas clear out at home, pop them down to a local shop rather than putting them out with the rubbish! One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, as they say!
The world at the moment can be a bit of a scary place, with the news full of darkness, cruelty and societal injustice, but it’s important for us to stop, take a deep breath and take another look, because there is so much good out there too, it can just be a little more difficult for our minds to register it in times of upset.
I’m going to attempt to do posts like this regularly, focussing on the little things that I’m grateful for in my everyday life. I did start doing 5 Things That Made Me Happy posts previously, but in true Penny style, it lasted all of about 5 minutes before I fell off the wagon. I AM FLAKEY, MY BAD. But, what better way to brighten your days than to focus on the parts of it that made you happy?
Little acts of kindness might be small, but from tiny acorns grow mighty oaks, so keep spreading love and happiness wherever you go!
Have you been on the receiving end of any acts of kindness lately?
Oxfam have produced the infographic below about some of the good work they do and how donations received by them make a difference to so many lives around the world. If you want to donate to Oxfam, you can do so by visiting www.oxfam.org.uk/donate.