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World Kindness Day

Published November 07. 2009 09:00AM

Emails are such an educational tool.

Just this week alone I've learned: some clean jokes for twisted minds; how to tell if you have a cold or the H1N1 virus; that there are people out there who are trying to convince the world that the Halocaust never happened; and what General Patton would do if he were in charge of our armed forces today.

I learned that Friday, Nov. 13 is World Kindness Day. It originated in Tokyo in 1997 at a Small Kindness Movement conference and by 2000 became worldwide. The mission is "to inspire individuals toward greater kindness and to connect nations to create a kinder world."

I don't know about you, but a kinder world sounds like a pretty great goal.

But in order to have a kinder world, we first have to learn to be kind to one another.

Years ago, the phrase, Random Act of Kindness began generating around. It means you should perform a selfless act to assist or cheer up another person or animal. It can be spontaneous or planned. But the idea is to do something nice for a stranger and the hope is, that random acts of kindness will be passed on.

It can be something as simple as letting a car merge in front of you or helping someone on with their coat.

Sometimes a "planned" kindness can have a rippling effect that at first you aren't even aware of.

Someone in our Sunday School class came up with the idea of helping a couple that has been dedicated members all their lives who now find themselves, due to medical issues, unable to attend church, get out of the house very much and do something as simple as preparing a meal for themselves. They receive Meals on Wheels Monday through Friday but this person thought they would appreciate home-cooked meals on the weekends. We started a list and volunteers immediately had every weekend filled in to the last weekend in January, when a new list will begin.

The ripple effect?

We learned that the meals are taking some pressure off the couple's children, giving them more time to take care of their own families and to use meal preparation time for their parents, to do other things their parents needed, and includes more free visiting time.

The meals need to be taken to them which ends up being a socializing time for all, something the couple appreciates almost as much as the meals.

And everyone benefits by feeling good.

In a book, "The Healing Power of Doing Good" written by Allan Luks and Peggy Payne, Luks says he noticed feelings of pleasure and well being while involved in helping others. Initially thinking it was something he alone experienced, he began to hear from others about the pleasurable feelings associated with helping. This prompted him to investigate further into "this intriguing phenomenon that seemed to have almost magical effects."

Some of the benefits mentioned in his book are: A more optimistic and happier outlook on life; A heightened sense of well being; A sense of exhilaration and euphoria; An increase in energy; A feeling of being healthy; Decreased feelings of loneliness, depression and helplessness; A sense of connectedness with others; A greater sense of calmness and relaxation; Increased longevity; Better weight control; An improvement in insomnia; A stronger immune system; A reduction in pain; Increased body warmth; A healthier cardiovascular system (reduction of high blood pressure, improved circulation, reduced coronary disease); A reduction of excessive stomach acid; A decrease of oxygen requirement; Relief from arthritis and asthma; Speedier recovery from surgery; Reduced cancer activity.

Whew! One small act of kindness can do all that? Then why aren't we the nicest, kindest, most thoughtful people all the time?

Why do we have to have nation and worldwide "movements" to bring it to our attention, to make us think about being kind instead of it just being something we do on a daily basis?

I'm thinking we have to learn to be kind to the people in our own family, our own town, our own community, our own country first. Then when whole countries can be kind to one another, we have a shot at World Kindness. World Kindness would hopefully lead to World Peace.

So, as the Doctor of Love and Well-Being, I prescribe everyone to perform one act of kindness a day until it becomes habit forming. It could just be the cure we're looking for.

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