Many of our dignity champions, especially those directly involved in the care of others, will be aware of the way in which kindness can enhance both our own lives and those who we care for, especially during a difficult time, or when the world seems set against us. Especially on those days when nothing goes right, getting anything achieved or completed is difficult, and being kind is the last thing that we want to do - and yet if someone is unexpectedly nice to us everything becomes easier.
And it would seem that others are starting to notice the power of kindness too, including the medical profession. The latest scientific evidence supports the idea that being kind to others has a direct and positive effect on out bodies, books and articles are being produced across the internet claiming that kindness improves the immune system and makes us feel better about ourselves. This month's Natural Health Magazine even has an article on "The Power of Kindness", examining how being kind to others can boost your health and improve your own happiness.
Some people have organised themselves into a group to make their acts of kindness a little bigger in size. The Kindness Offensive are a group of volunteers whose slogan is "Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Act of Beauty". They state that their aim is "to grow as a group, develop new and exciting ways of having fun with kindness and become self sufficient while doing it; we want to demonstrate that kindness is more than just a nice ideal, it's actually a viable way of existing in the real world." Volunteers for The Kindness Offensive, attired in their trademark fluorescent jackets and yellow hard hats, have undertaken a number of events for charities such as the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), ChildLine and the Child's Voice appeal, and the NSPCC helpline. The group have gathered and distributed non-perishable food items, helped the homeless, delivered several hundred toys to children's hospitals and clinics, and taken over a cafe to distribute free pancakes and beverages on pancake day. As an organised group of volunteers they are formidable.
So how can we spread a little kindness amongst our own immediate circle - or even a little wider? Several internet groups have launched kindness challenges, but you can start small and in your own way. Smile at people and watch them smile back. Offer compliments, offer help. Make a small amount of time available for someone you wouldn't normally bother with. Do an unexpected favour and watch it return to you tenfold. Genuine kindness very seldom falls on stony ground.