At this day and age of COVID-19, spreading kindness, practicing altruism and living with compassion are as challenging as reaching for the moon. How do we achieve these despite the pandemic continuously building a significant amount of fear, worry and concern among individuals of different circumstances and conditions? Especially that quarantine made an impact on people’s usual activities, routines and livelihoods, we can certainly expect heightened levels of loneliness from isolation and other mental health issues. Despite these, kindness is still encouraged, altruism must still be fostered and compassion still needs to be reinforced.
In a study cited in Mental Health UK (2020), kindness has positive benefits for our mental health and overall wellbeing. Being kind is linked to intensified feelings of happiness, wellbeing and life satisfaction. Doing good also makes us feel good and shows another side of us. This is the reason why oftentimes, people experience a sudden mood lift, called the helper’s high, after doing an act of kindness. In Baraz (2010), psychologists identified this is a typical state of euphoria by those engaged in charitable activities. It is based on the theory that giving actually produces endorphins in the brain hence the feeling of happiness
The only question worth tackling right now is how can we manifest kindness at a distance? Here are 9 ways you can practice kindness, altruism and compassion.
1: Randomly check in on someone.
Sometimes we get so caught up with work that we do not realize how long it has been since we spoke to friends and actually enjoyed the time doing it. While Facebook and Instagram chats work for instant messages, it does not provide enough warmth to mimic a human connection. For this you can try Zoom or a good old phone call. Lend your ear, listen and empathize. We may not know whatever they might be going through but showing our concern, making the other person feel they are not taken for granted and that you are present at the moment can suffice for the distance and the time apart. Hearing your friend say “it’s good to hear from you after a long while” is gold.
2: Make someone a meal.
Food trends and recipes took the internet by storm so it is quite impossible not to be fascinated with at least one. In showing kindness, thought is prime. Whether you are the iron chef or just a newbie, it is always your heart that is looked at with introspection. Whip something you can enjoy making. Consider the receiver’s diet as well since he might be trying out a plant-based diet or have gone carnivorous. Write a short message on a post-it and attach before sending it off. If you do not have the time, a food delivery service or a takeaway from the other person’s favorite restaurant can be equally appreciated.
3: Celebrate someone’s small wins.
Your friend might just have adopted a new dog, received a promotion, quitted smoking or been given the perfect attendance award — there is always something worth celebrating for and this is a great way for you to show your appreciation and support. Ask your friend about the details over Zoom while enjoying a glass of fine wine. While you are at it enjoy your time with the man of the hour and verbalize words of affirmation. This will keep him more motivated and would make him feel good that he has a friend like you.
4: Donate to a good cause.
You might have planned on reorganizing your shelves, cabinets and closets at home, do it now this time. The things you do not benefit from anymore can be another person’s stockpile. Check for household items, clothes, shoes and bags that you no longer need and have them donated to charity. You can also start up or participate in a soup kitchen. In Manila, “community pantry” is getting popular. People from different cities put out a table initially filled with food and essential goods. Basically, the idea of a community pantry is that people can take as much as they need from the table and donate whatever they can so that a cycle of giving and taking is made. However you wish to donate, just do, for your self-fulfillment and the welfare of others.
5: Pay it forward.
In Canada back in 2012, the pay it forward story at Tim Hortons in Winnipeg shook the news and inspired the world. It started with a man who picked up the tab for the person behind him and this succession went on for the next 228 orders. Truly, kindness is contagious and it has to start somewhere. In your own small way, you can pay it forward by opening the door for someone, carrying out a stranger’s groceries, helping your neighbor with porch or lawnwork or making people you live with a hearty breakfast. It does not always have to be monetary. Sometimes, a hand is all it takes to pass on kindness.
6: Give out care packages.
Care packages come in handy these days and you can make ones too. Find a small toiletry bag or a pouch that you rarely use and put in a small spray bottle of alcohol, hand sanitizer, face mask and a snack too. You may even include a hand-written note with all your thanks and nice words then send them off. Give it to your friend or our folks on the street who are in dire need of it.
7: Write positive reviews for a friend’s business.
You probably have a friend whose business is at an all time low during this pandemic, or someone who has recently tried his luck on venturing into a retail business. Nothing helps both kinds of business more than sharing positive feedback to help them gain traction. Draft a short “review” and share it on their Facebook business page. You may not like the stuff they sell but what you can do sitting down is to help with their publicity.
8: Run others’ errands.
Not always, your friend might need to run to the supermarket for an ingredient she lacks to make lunch. Your neighbor also might have to stop by downtown for bills overdue but just could not find the time. It would be nice of you to ask if they need you to run anything for them hoping that in the future, they might do the same. This is going the extra mile but only do it if your direction wills it.
9: Wrap a “just because” gift for someone.
But it could be because of his birthday, a memory that you remembered or well, just because. Be kind to send someone a little something. This is an indirect way to say “I remember you” and it always brightens someone’s day receiving something. Buy something cute and useful from a friend’s startup business and take advantage of shipping discounts so that you can get more bang for your buck. Most of the time, it is not the gift that matters but the thought attached to it.
Being kind requires you to have courage and strength. Are you tough enough to be soft? Have you been kind to others lately? Whatever your circumstances are, always be a little kinder than necessary.
Author bio: Bash Sarmiento is a writer and an educator from Manila. He writes laconic pieces in the education, lifestyle and health realms. His academic background and extensive experience in teaching, textbook evaluation, business management and traveling are translated in his works.