Kindness

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I am delighted to share the following guest blog by the lovely Amy Overend.

Kindness, it seems like a simple notion doesn’t it?  A simple way of telling another struggling soul that there is love, hope and happiness to be found in the world.

More often than not nowadays kindness seems to be in short supply.  The world seems harsh and hard and often it feels like that feeling of joy is missing.  I can truly understand why people may feel that way.  I have felt that way many times.  I have felt the harshness and the cruelty and I know that for some every day can be a struggle.  I feel that every day I see some form of unkindness, and it seems like it is easy for people to spread this.  For example, you can be unkind ‘remotely’ without fear of consequence, because you sit behind a screen with no human connection to those you are speaking with.  I, like many I’m sure, had become disillusioned and worried that that the place for kindness in this world had disappeared.  Also that those who show kindness are seen as weak and taken advantage of,  but let me free you of that disillusion.

Kindness is the simplest form of human nature. We are not born to hurt people, either emotionally or physically, that is something we inherit as we navigate our lives. Yet kindness is a commonality shared by us all. It is the thing that connects every person in the world because, at some point, we will all be kind in our own way.

How kindness looks now, may be extremely different to how it looked even just 5 years ago. We are better connected than ever before, we have incredible social networks that can instantly connect us to anywhere in the world, but our human interaction seems to be on a decline. You would think that this would mean that kindness is in decline.  How can you be kind when you’re not physically with the person needing it?

But kindness can take many forms, and often it is found in the most unlikely or places, from people you may never expect it from.

I am incredibly lucky, I have some of the kindest people in the world in my life on a daily basis. They teach me every day, how to be a kinder and better person. They teach me to not let the world make me harsh or make me lose my faith, because an act of kindness, no matter how small, is never wasted.  I never expected these people to be part of the world I live in, but every day I am grateful for them, but there is also another group of humans I am grateful for.

Everyone, I’m sure, has heard the phase ‘the kindness of strangers’. I never really truly understood this until recently. I understood that a nice compliment from a stranger , or a smile from a passer-by can brighten your day, but I never truly understood the impact the kindness of strangers can have.

I have been unwell recently, and I have shared my journey on social media. I did this, not for sympathy, but for there to be an element of reality on platforms where people often show only the best bits of their lives. This showed my vulnerability, it showed me at my worst and my lowest.  Many people could have just ignored this, or read and dismissed it, but instead the response I got blew me away.

I had people I had never met show such unbelievable kindness to me that I will never forget. Their kindness helped me get through the most difficult of days.  A simple message saying, ‘I’m here if you just need a chat’ meant that I didn’t feel alone.  The little things sent to me ‘just because I felt it would cheer you up’ from people I’ve never met made me realise that people can care for others even if they have never met.  Then there are those willing to give up their time and visit me in hospital, again even though they had never met me before.  This showed me that kindness was inherently still the driving force In people.

The kindness and compassion from these people have forged friendships I would never normally have, with people I would never naturally meet.  I was blown away, that such a simple platform as social media, with a reputation for spreading rudeness and negativity, could reaffirm my faith in kindness.

All that has happened the past few months for me, and the kindness I have been shown has inherently changed me.

Although I have always tried to be kind to every person I meet, I know there is more that I can do to push the agenda of kindness. I will not see my kindness as weakness, I will see it as a strength, and the strength that it can give to others.  In an often, harsh world treating someone with kindness may be the catalyst they needed to make a decision or a change they needed to do.  It just might make them feel a bit better about themselves.

Kindness is a blind entity, it does not see race or religion, sexuality or gender. Kindness is the one thing taught by them all.  It underpins acceptance, love and tolerance and it instigates change. Kindness is so powerful that the world and all those who live in it, could not survive without it.  So lets all champion its power and ensure that it underpins everything we do.

Finally, my last thought on kindness is to make a pledge,which I hope you will all also think about doing.  I pledge to ensure all that I do in my life is done with kindness at its very core, and that I will remember and teach others, that kindness is the ribbon that ties every human being on this planet together.  As the inspirational Jo Cox said, “we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than the things that divide us” and I truly believe in the commonality of kindness in humans.

Amy is a specialist neonatal Intensive care nurse and coordinator, working in a busy level 3 unit in the north west of England.  As well as her clinical work, Amy is a non executive director and trustee of the national premature and sick baby charity- Bliss. Amy is passionate about neonatal care, and has recently done a TED talk on neonatal organ donation.  She is passionate about good quality leadership and increasing the voice of nursing at a national level and has co-authored a book with Prof Brian Dolan OBE on nursing leadership and management, together with being a member of the NHS Assembly- helping to implement NHS England and NHS Improvements Long Term Plan.  Amy is also an expert reviewer for the National Institute of Health Research and is currently involved in writing a guideline for the National Institute of Clinical Excellence. She has recently been invited to be a specialist advisor to the Care Quality Commission.

Thank you Amy

You can find Amy on twitter via @AmyOverend

 

The Author

I am Suzette Woodward - I have studied safety for over 20 years and have loved every second of it. I share my thoughts here as well as exerts from my two books. I also have guest bloggers from time to time.

3 Comments

  1. Thank you . Very timely- I have 30 minutes to do a Compassion talk at a Normal Birth study day.

    Do you have any immediate quick tips – I will look at Amy’s work .

    Thank you

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Key points are that kindness is not a ‘nice thing to do’ it is a must. That kindness ripples and can be the counter behaviour to rudeness and incivility. That kindness helps build or restore empathy and compassion. It also ‘pays’ – the cost of rudeness has been estimated to be over 10 billion in terms of turnover and absenteeism – being kind and grateful to others leads to an increase in 43% more satisfaction for workers. To be kind is to be clear and to be supportive and the main thing people can do is role model it consistently and persistently.

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