Angela Green & John Walsh share their perspective on how kindness is an underestimated gift to ourselves at Christmas
“Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is anything that lifts another person.” –Plato
What is kindness? Why is the word kindness flying? Why does kindness particularly blossom at Christmas and why do we want to start a Kindness Revolution? We thought we would share some reflections with you.
Christmas is a time for giving. For most of us it is hopefully a time of cheer, laughter, connection and joy. For many of us it isn’t. Food, fuel, housing, income and other forms of poverty hit our fellow citizens. Mental and physical health problems bear down heavy on many.
During the Christmas season, gifts and kind gestures come our way. When the giving is done genuinely without expectations, with love, it can really affect both the giver and the receiver.
In work, I recently gave out some small paper bags containing some small gifts to each person on my NHS team. This small action stirred much within me and my colleagues. I noticed within myself a sense of excited expectation and kind offer as I handed over the bag to each individual. Faces lit up, smiles crossed my colleagues features and some deep connection was touched. I noticed I was smiling and a felt sense of warmth bubbled up inside me as if my heart had opened a little more to another and to myself. A genuine moment of feeling alive, connected and grateful for the presence of other fellow humans had happened
So what is going on in this process? Why can a simple act of kindness make us feel happy and included? There are probably many reasons. One may be all about how we often are and how kindness can unlock us from that state. Our minds can be locked in worries, work plans or current pressures. In this state we are not really present. The founder of Gestalt Therapy, Fritz Perls would often intone the need to ‘get out of our heads’ and into the experiences taking place around and inside us. To truly observe and be present to what was happening. Perls wasn’t demeaning thinking. Rather he was inviting us all into a new and enhanced space for it to love and flourish.
Acts of kindness take us out of our heads and re-connect us to ourselves and others. They awaken within us a realisation of the feelings of gratitude, love, joy and inspiration. We need these experiences in the stress, hustle and bustle of living and work pressures. Kindness is a unifying moment of relational emotional acknowledgment. Kindness is a dance. It is a moment of unity, a binding together of ourselves and another in harmony and accord. It can be a levelling of power and position if only for a moment. It helps us realise what really matters, a reminder of our value and worth. It says that we are truly worth-full.
The power of kindness is still very much underestimated and under used. There is much research evidence that kindness has the power to make us happier, improve relationships, and is good for our wellbeing. Kindness is contagious. A small act of kindness, a smile, a door held opened and a care shared creates ripples and spreads seeds much further than we can ever estimate or know.
I offer you all a kind invitation to explore this Christmas how you can participate in the intentional practice and language of kindness within ourselves, within our families, within our work and public spaces. We may be surprised at how amazing this work can be. The West Yorkshire and Harrogate Partnership has led the brilliant ‘Looking Out For Our Neighbours’ campaign that has as its aim – ‘inspire people to make small changes to help out their neighbours – and in turn, help prevent loneliness and social isolation’ ( ). This campaign has led to many acts of care and kindness across the region. We believe in these acts of kindness lies a hope and power that offer a hope we all need to see and share.
At this Christmas time please take good care of yourself and have the kindest Christmas possible.
“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” -Amelia Earhart