World Kindness Day – can we keep going? 11-13 editorial


Friday, Nov. 13 was World Kindness Day. Did you celebrate? If you missed the day, the spirit of the day can continue through 2020 and beyond. Maybe it seems like there is no time to be kind. But 2020 needs some kindness.

"Selfless acts of kindness don't just help the person on the receiving end," says psychologist Lisa Damour, author of "Untangled" and "Under Pressure" and co-host of the “Ask Lisa” podcast. “Research finds that altruistic behavior activates the very same regions in the brain that are enlivened by rewards or pleasurable experiences," Damour said.

Here are 25 ways to be kind to yourself, your family and community and the planet on World Kindness Day, the upcoming holidays, or any day.

Start with yourself – kindness isn't just for others. What is one simple thing you can do that fills you up? It may mean taking 15 minutes for a phone call with an old friend, shooting hoops or reading a book. It may be simply saying "yes" if someone offers to help.

Get moving – it has been shown that exercise raises endorphins. It doesn't have to be training for a marathon – even walking for 20 minutes per day can help.

Drink more water, and 4) not to lecture, but if you drink a lot of alcohol, you could cut back. At first it may make you feel more magnanimous, but over time researchers say, and many family members would agree, it is not great for relationships. 5)Go to sleep earlier. 6) Lack of sleep makes us more vulnerable to illness. This is a bad time to fall ill. Routine, cooler temperatures and a dark room are key to good sleep.

Treat your sweetheart or someone else in your life. Take a walk together, make their favorite dish or load the dishwasher the way they like it or take the kids away so they can have solo time -- make a schedule, find a favorite wine, whatever is their love language.

Take time to make the family a restorative cup of tea or two. Frequent green tea drinkers were 21% less likely to develop depression over their lifetime than those who were nondrinkers, a 2018 study conducted in South Korea found.

Have a family dance party to all sorts of music ('70s, anyone?) and show the kids you can salsa or boogie or slide with the best of them. Make the call – if you miss someone, pick up the phone. So many grandparents are missing their children and grandchildren, so why not call a relative? And if you miss someone, you can call them, too.

Call the main chef in your family and ask her or him to walk you through a longtime family recipe. Then make it. If they claim you have to have a certain ingredient from the old country, ask for another recipe, or look up a substitution.

Talk to your children about race and identity. It may seem to not affect us as much in rural Iowa, but it is a factor here, too. Educating our children beyond their own identities will help them navigate the wider world in a thoughtful way. Start early with Ibram X. Kendi's board book, "Antiracist Baby." Middle school children may like the young adult version of "Born a Crime," Comedy Central host Trevor Noah's memoir of growing up in apartheid South Africa. Adults can dig into former Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum's classic, "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?"

Bake for loved ones. In this time of social distancing, just make sure handwashing is ridiculously frequent when you do, and make a no-contact drop off.

If you're quarantined right now, this could be a perfect time to pick up a pen: Handwritten letters have become a sort of lost art, but there is nothing like receiving a handwritten note that shows care, intention and the reasons why someone loves and appreciates you. Think of the colleagues, friends and family members you cherish and why, then let them know. The simple things often mean the most.

Reduce, reuse, recycle and compost – in this time of single-use containers piling up, it's more important than ever.

Turn off lights you don't need to conserve resources.

Grocery shop for someone who needs it: You may have neighbors who are housebound or could use a helping hand; food banks are seeing more people in need.

Hand out snacks and necessities: Gather shelf-stable snacks, bottles of water, socks and wipes into bags to hand out to people who need them (be sure to do so safely from 6 feet away).

Takeout time: order takeout from one of our local joints who need the business.

Hiking any time of year is good for you and shows support for our parks and other public natural spaces. More than ever, in this time of stress, we need nature.

Buy direct from local growers and farmers; shop at local stores. Shore up our community.

On the couple of warm days this week, pick up litter.

Have a little face to face, sensibly – It's OK to sometimes see people if you stay apart (6 feet at least). Lawn chairs spread around a firepit sounds good right about now.

Get outside while we can.

Wear a mask. It can be annoying or uncomfortable, but it signals to the world that you don't want to get other people sick or possibly kill them, and new research shows it does protect you, too, when done properly.

Kindness is in fashion every day of the year.


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