“Kindness is everywhere. You just have to notice it” she said.
I was in the middle of a busy hospital ward and asked a patient what she would say to someone in the hospital having a tough day.
Those words stayed with me, nudging me to notice the kindness that really is everywhere. I went on to work in many more wards in the hospital seeing time and time again the kindness in the little everyday human things, often passing by unnoticed hidden and under-celebrated.
These seemingly small, everyday actions have the power to change the course of someone’s life, and also our world.
It got me thinking…What is kindness? How can you describe it? How can you make something invisible visible? How can we notice it and celebrate it? How can we celebrate kindness more?
What would it be like if we had a dept that’s only purpose was to answer these questions, and value kindness? From there The Dept of Kindness was born.
In the middle of a dark January, nestled in a busy hospital atrium, The Dept of Kindness became a reality, a physical place to think about Kindness and what it means.
Over 700 people stepped inside to share what kindness means to them and report an ‘Incident of Kindness’ they had experienced or witnessed. On their lunch break or way to appointments people stopped to read the stories shared inside, and experience the heart glow they inspire.
A community grew around the Dept and together we created a new culture that celebrates, values and encourages kindness– knowing that kindness can change everything.
Many of the stories shared in The Dept described moments of kindness in specific places around the hospital. Often fleeting, invisible after the moment I wanted to make them visible beyond the moment itself. I made blue plaques to celebrate the stories and installing them in the spot they happened.
The plaques are markers of small kindnesses that are everywhere, aiming to inspire and encourage new incidents of kindness. Once you start noticing kindness you can stop seeing it, you get kindness googles, you want more kindness, to see more and do more – It ripples out.
It starts with you…
Over the next few months, In creative kindness workshops around the hospital we explored:
What does it mean to be kind to yourself? How do you do it?
What stop us from being kind to ourselves?
What can you do to make it a bit easier to be kinder to yourself?
Again and again we found – Often you are the hardest person to be kind to.
A hospital is an environment full of caring professionals with a huge kindness output, it highlighted the importance of a kindness input.
Showing kindness to yourself is the same as kindness to others. It is made up of the small things, it is a practice of little things which add up to the big things.
So how can you increase your kindness input and start to be kinder to yourself?
It starts with permission. Giving yourself permission to prioritise you, to put yourself first and make time for the things that support you. Then sharing permission, offering it to someone else, You inspire others with the kindness you show yourself, you make it easier for others to do the same. Together we can begin to cultivate a little more self-compassion.
If we want a kinder world (and we really need one) we have to start being kinder to ourselves. It’s not selfish it’s vital. We need kindness more than ever, but that starts with you. When you practise self-kindness it ripples out.
“Be kinder to yourself. Then let that kindness flood the world.” – Pema Chodron
The next phase of The Dept of Kindness is all about building on what we learnt last year Starting with self-kindness and how that ripples out to change our world.
– Ali Brown – Founder of The Dept of Kindness