A few weeks ago I was sitting with my daughter on a packed London Underground when she automatically offered her seat to a woman – laden down with shopping, a baby strapped to her chest – who had boarded the train at the previous stop. We were sitting in the middle of the carriage and all the designated seats at each end of the row were occupied by commuters, none of who even bothered to look up.
This Leap Year social media is encouraging us to use February’s extra day to perform a random act of kindness.
But what constitutes a random act of kindness and isn’t it sad that we need to be reminded of it in the first place? Kindness doesn’t have to be grandiose or sweeping gestures. It is the little things that count – taking the time to chat to an old lady in the bus queue, helping a struggling mum up the stairs with her buggy, buying a bunch of daffodils for someone who’s feeling blue or buying a stranger a cup of tea.
Some months ago I noticed an elderly lady in Marks & Spencer who looked so stylish that I felt compelled to stop and tell her that she looked “absolutely stunning”. She was speechless for a moment and then flung her arms around me and gave me a kiss protesting “but why would you say something so kind, you’re a total stranger”. I hope that my comment made her day; it certainly made mine – in fact I still glow when I remember the encounter.
My point is that being kind doesn’t only benefit the recipient. Being kind can make you feel good too, so why stop at the 29th February?
Why not make kindness a way of life? David Jamilly, founder of Kindness UK, believes that after the hedonism of the noughties it’s now cool to be kind so if you want my recommendation, it’s make February 29th the start of a new era of kindness. After all what have you got to lose?