Following the events of the past few week, and the tragic passing of TV presenter Caroline Flack, kindness is at the forefront of people’s minds. Such a desperately sad event has triggered some really beautiful acts of generosity and helped to raise awareness of mental health, depression, the impact of social media and the power of kindness.
Like I imagine a lot of people have been doing, I’ve been reflecting a lot on what happened. There’s been a lot of talking, a lot of opinions and a whole lot of noise, as there is with any news story. There’s also been a lot of anger – and quite rightly so. The fact that anybody could find themselves in such a dark place and feel so hopeless is something to be angry about.
Anger seems to the world’s favourite feeling at the moment. There’s a lot of injustice, a lot of problems, a lot of stress and worry and it makes people angry. Anger can fuel change, it urges us to right wrongs so it does have its place. It’s a natural, human reaction.
But we seem to be hooked on anger at the moment. I feel as though it’s become a bit of a drug. Everybody wants to feel angry about something and everybody wants to voice their anger, stamp their feet and proudly make it known… “THIS MAKES ME ANGRY”.
Anger is a fairly easy emotion to access – it’s a reflex, it’s an immediate response. You can go from 0 to 100mph with anger and find yourself buzzing with rage in the blink of an eye. But as easy as it is, it isn’t always helpful.
When we keep accessing this anger, it informs everything we do. How we talk to people, how we talk to ourselves, the decisions we make, the words we use. Anger is becoming like a virus, insidiously infecting everything we do and affecting the world around us.
It might come across as flippant, trite or even privileged of me to say that we need to learn how and when we need to access anger. We need to make more room in our brains for better, more productive, more positive alternatives. We need to make room for kindness.
There’s lots of different types of kindness. There’s the obvious stuff, the stuff we can consciously make a decision to do like compliment a friend, buy a gift, give money to charity. These are all beautiful acts of kindness and generosity, and are wonderful to do and wonderful to be on the receiving end of.
But it’s kindness on a deeper level that we seem to have lost sight of. Kindness in the form of empathy, compassion, forgiveness, patience and understanding.
Kindness is the quiet emotion that doesn’t make a fuss, it just trundles away in the background but it’s the one that has the power to make the best, most positive change to ourselves and the world around us.
To react to a painful situation with kindness is a big undertaking and not an easy one, especially when we’ve been so conditioned to celebrate or reward anger. When anger bursts through to take centre stage in our thoughts, we need to take a step back and reflect on why this anger has cropped up. We need to explore why this makes us angry, what we’re really angry about, is there another perspective, can we explore something from a different point of view?
“Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle”. A beautiful quote by Charles Glassman and one that I truly believe. It might be painful, frustrating or maybe even downright rage-inducing that we should show kindness to people who have hurt us. But the world doesn’t need any more anger right now, and it always needs kindness.
Kindness cannot magically cure something that has already happened, but it can help us to release ourselves from the anger that holds us back and stops us from moving forward. So, try showing yourself a bit of kindness first, then share that kindness with others and watch it spread far and wide.