366 Days of Kindness
I went to see a show last night, and what a wonderful show it was!
Bernadette Russell, as a result of seeing the devastation of the London riots in August 2011, decided to do an act of kindness every single day for a full year, and as 2012 was a leap year, this was going to be 366 days.
Bernadette decided to keep a diary of what she did every day. As time went on, she had to come up with some very creative ways of being kind, things that were as personal as she could make them to the receiver, that made them feel very special, and also things that were fun enough to keep Russell entertained and motivated to keep going, as she admitted was needed at times.
I expected the show to be quite a straightforward, if uplifting, lists of kindnesses, but it turned out to be a comedy extravaganza, performed by Russell and her partner Gareth.
Some examples from her diary:
Day 36: Left a fiver on the bus seat, but I wrote on the fiver explaining, in the hope it gets passed around and spreads the word! This fiver did come back to me, months later, via Twitter, from a man who was given it in change in Nottingham and kindly posted a picture for me.
Day 52: Left jar of sweets saying eat me at house near me. Rang bell, ran away.
Day 161: met this lovely man outside Waterloo station collecting for veterans. I gave him the scripscraps from my purse. Him: “Thanks” Me: “You’re welcome. Can I take a photo of you?” Him: “I’ll probably break your camera” Me: “No you won’t, a handsome man like you” Him: “oo *blushes* er.. ok.. thanks”. It got me thinking, I don’t give enough compliments. They don’t cost anything etc. Gonna do more.
Day 186: I got the homeless man sitting outside tescos a sandwich and rolos. He said he sleeps out. Blimey. In this. I couldn’t do one night.
Day 239: Left a little message and a pound coin on a park bench in Deptford.
There were so many examples of little kindnesses, that cost very little money, or no money at all, but put huge smiles on people’s faces.
What I especially liked were the personal connections made with strangers, people we wouldn’t normally come into contact with. In fact, as Bernadette demonstrated, it can be easy to approach someone who looks rather friendly, but how about someone who looks grumpy, or someone who is dressed in a similar style to a ‘London rioter’: Russell paid for a stamp in a Post Office for a young lad wearing a hoodie pulled up around his head, and his eyes down, he was very grateful for the help.
Often the people who don’t ‘look’ happy or look like negative stereotypes formed by society, are the ones who need the kindness, acceptance and inclusion, shown even more.
“If someone doesn’t have a smile, give them one of yours”
Kindness doesn’t have to involve giving money; in fact, it often means more without giving money:
- Helping a pensioner lifting shopping into a car
- Making homemade cards or positive messages, and leaving them in random places for people to find
- Sitting with a homeless person, hearing their story, it’s often a powerful one, rather than throwing a fiver at them and walking away.
It reminded me of the homeless lady I gave my gloves to, because it was the middle of winter and I noticed, after giving her a cup of hot chocolate, how she wrapped her bare hands around the cup to warm them.
I would like to add here that I myself received an act of kindness, as I was gifted my ticket to the show. I was going to go anyway, and hadn’t bought my ticket yet, when somebody who had already paid found they couldn’t go, so gave me their ticket. I am very thankful.
Russell’s message is that if everybody does a small act of kindness every day, we will be living in a very different world. This movement is sweeping across the planet in a very powerful way. If we can teach our children this, the entire world can be improved within a generation.
I bought a copy of Russell’s children’s book ‘Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy’, at the show, and it was lovely to speak with her personally and she signed the book for my 7-year-old niece. I got home and read it, and decided I need to buy another – for MYSELF!
It has such beautiful suggestions for very simple things that children, and adults as it turns out, can do every day. This is not a little paperback of lists. It is a large book, bigger than A4 size, with fully illustrated, and funny, pages and exercises to do, written in language that will engage children of all ages. It is a book that children will want to return to time and time again.
Buy ‘Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy’ at Amazon.co.uk
Buy ‘Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy’ at Amazon.com
The 366 Days of Kindness tour has only a couple more shows running:
Brighton, England – 19th & 20th May 2014
Cardiff, Wales – 28th May 2014
Details HERE – I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Please join the Kindness Revolution yourself, and help change the world, one kindness at a time.
Twitter: @betterussell #366daysofkindness
Facebook: #366 Days of Kindness
366 Days of Kindness