The benefits of kindness

Showing kindness to each other has a feel-good factor all of its own and yet it costs nothing.  The effect it causes is unique and has the ability to make someone’s day.  Something as simple as a smile can have a mutually positive outcome for both parties; the person showing the kindness and the person receiving the kindness.  These days we’re constantly spoon-fed negative information which can be overwhelming and soul destroying, therefore, something as simple as a smile can be priceless in terms of raising the feel-good factor.  Here’s a suggestion; the next time you plan a shopping trip, especially if you have your own transport, ask someone nearby (an elderly person or someone with limited mobility) if there’s anything they need.  Recently I sent a postcard to a friend that I hadn’t seen for a while, not because I was on vacation, I simply wanted to make her day and I did.  She loved it and said it made a great change to all the brown envelopes and junk-mail that she usually receives.

There are numerous ways in which we can be kind to one another and it doesn’t cost us anything or require much effort.  An act of human kindness can have lasting beneficial consequences you can’t put a price on.

Overcoming Loneliness

If, like many of us, you are someone living with loneliness, then fret not, there is a solution.  This common condition is symptomatic of today’s insular society, and can affect anyone, of any age or background.  We’ve become a nation that favours engaging with social media over interacting with others, thus, robbing us of an activity that is both invigorating and stimulating; a face to face conversation.

In the dictionary the adjective ‘Loneliness’ is defined as ‘without the company of others’, ‘on one’s own’, ‘companionless’, ‘isolated’.  There is no doubt that prolonged periods of isolation, for whatever reason, can result in gradual loss of confidence due to social inactivity and feelings of worthlessness. Or worse, clinical depression, in which case you really must discuss your feelings with your GP or other health professional.

On a more positive note, there are an amazing number of ‘meet up’ groups springing up all over the city that offer social activities for all ages.  Like-minded individuals gather at a café, simply to chat away the hours.  There’s also a good range of affordable community courses for those on low incomes or benefits.  Another option is volunteering. You never know, you may even revive an activity or pastime you once felt passionate about.  You may need to try several options before you find the right fit for you.  Keep at it.    Commitment really does pay off.  Taking the first steps towards alleviating loneliness may seem like a huge undertaking, but it does get easier the more you apply yourself.  Finally, it’s worth keeping in mind that, regarding the subject of loneliness, you’re not alone.

Below are some useful numbers:

  • The Silver Line helpline 24 hrs (over 55s only) Free-phone 0800 470 8090;
  • Grassmarket Project (All ages) 0131 225 3626;
  • Volunteer Edinburgh (All ages) 0131 225 0630.

Nicky Kirwan, Lister Housing Co-operative tenant