They say compassion is the new mindfulness – so let’s put the theory to the test…
“Have courage, and be kind.”
In a world of Trumps and Weinsteins, there’s no doubt in our minds that we need to place a bigger emphasis on kindness. Scientific research has proven time and time again that the positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people.
So, this November, stylist.co.uk is challenging readers to sign up to our 30-day Kindfulness Project, in a bid to strengthen the most important muscle in their bodies: the heart.
“It’s kind of like weight training,” says Dr Ritchie Davidson from the University of Wisconsin. “We found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”
With this in mind, we would like participants to carry out one good deed from the list below, every single day for the duration of November.
1) Carve out some time for yourself
Each and every single day, try to do something that brings you joy. This doesn’t have to be a big thing - see the list below for some examples:
- Do some drawing
- Go for a walk
- Write in your journal
- Write short stories
- Play a musical instrument
- Read a book
- Spend five minutes away from your desk
- Download a podcast to listen to
- Turn your phone off for an hour
- Treat yourself to a proper tea break (maybe with slice of cake to nibble on, too)
- Sign like nobody’s listening
- Get an early night
This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the picture. Just make sure that, whatever you decide, you give yourself some “me time” each day.
2) Make a connection with the people around you
This could be something as small as the following:
- Paying someone a compliment
- Sharing your umbrella
- Making someone a cup of tea
- ‘Paying it forward’ the next time you go to a cafe or coffee shop
- Holding a door open for a stranger
- Bringing treats in for your colleagues
- Inviting someone new to lunch
- Writing a letter to a friend
3) Do something kind for someone else
A good way to start? Ask someone if they’re OK - and really listen to their answer. You might also consider the following:
- Offering to buy a drink or some food for a homeless person
- Checking in on an elderly relative or neighbour
- Phoning someone who lives alone for a catch-up (Sundays are a particularly hard time for many)
- Signing up to the organ donor register
- Supporting a charity that’s dear to your heart
- Giving blood
- Donating coats and blankets to a homeless shelter
- Volunteering your time at a local soup kitchen
- Supporting your local Christmas present appeal
As part of our drive to champion compassion, Katie Piper – who will be speaking about the kindfulness trend at Stylist Live 2018 – will be taking over the stylist.co.uk website on 15 November.
“Kindness is such a powerful thing in a world which can often be cruel with focus on the negatives,” she says. “Kindness has come in to my life in lots of different ways, via my family, the volunteers and medical staff I’ve met through my charity, The Katie Piper Foundation, and even my recent podcast guests.
“I can’t wait to share with my thoughts, feelings and experiences on the power of kindness with the Stylist community.”
Will you be taking part in Stylist’s Kindfulness Project? If so, make sure to share your stories on Twitter and Instagram with @stylistmagazine using the hashtag #stylistkindfulnessproject.
We can’t wait to see all your posts!
Image: Priscilla du Preez