A few years ago, having emptied the contents of my supermarket trolley into the boot of the car and returned the trolley to its friends, I climbed into the driver’s seat to discover that a single red rose had been placed under my windscreen wiper.
My immediate reaction was ‘S**t, I’ve got into the wrong car!..’. But having satisfied myself that I wasn’t going bonkers, I got out and looked around. None of the other cars had roses pinned to their windscreens. It wasn’t Valentine’s Day. Nobody was giving free roses out with every litre of detergent purchased.
To this day I have no idea ‘who dunnit’, and can only assume that it was a (very) random act of kindness. One thing I DO know for certain was that it made my day. I smiled all the way home. I even smiled whilst I was unpacking all the shopping - my least favourite job ever. And even now, years later, it brings a smile to my face in the recollection of the joy that simple gesture gave me.
‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind.’
In his Natural Selection theory, Charles Darwin believed that evolution occurs as a result of the ‘survival of the fittest’. I had to find a simple explanation (for myself!) and came across this example, using fish as the subject:
‘In a river there are a school of orange fish being watched by a hungry, orange fish loving, Eagle on the bank. One day a mutation happens in the species which turns one of their offspring blue, making it easier to blend in to the surroundings. As the blue fish is camouflaged, and hence much harder for the Eagle to catch, the orange fish population slowly dies out and the blue fish gene spreads. Eventually the river is filled entirely with blue fish, forcing the Eagle to go and hunt prey elsewhere.’
Imagine what a difference we could all make if we set out to do just one small kind thing a day? And if, in doing so, kindness (represented by the blue fish in the example above) could eventually overtake the population? Kindness would become the natural default in all humans, and the ‘less kind’ would be a minority - or even extinct.
"A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees." – Amelia Earhart
And it really isn’t hard to be kind. Here are a few suggestions:
Buy a homeless person a hot drink or a sandwich – and talk to them
Give someone a genuine compliment – even if you don’t know them
If someone looks like they are struggling on the stairs, offer to help them with their bags, suitcase or pram
Donate an item to the food bank bin in your supermarket
Introduce yourself to your neighbours – we are all too quick to stay hidden behind our closed doors
Smile at a stranger
Check-in on someone you know is having a tough time
Hold a door open for someone
Give up your seat on the train or tube
Make time to chat to an elderly person – they are often very lonely
Say thank you to workers who are often ‘invisible’, such as office cleaners or road sweepers
When you are driving, let someone pull out in front of you
...and there are many more.
So, with the greatest respect to Mr Darwin, for me the ultimate theory of evolution has to be ‘Survival of the Kindest’. If we all practised kindness on a regular basis, what a different world we could live in.
As the great Dalai Lama said: