A bit of misfortune

In the week, I had a slight accident in my car, bursting my front passenger’s wheel. Nobody else was involved and nobody was hurt. Being unsure of some factors in the car, I called the breakdown recovery company. They were busy, but booked somebody to come and help, they were polite and told me they would be there in about an hour-and-a-half. In that time I was pacing, trying to get in the shade – it was really hot day that day, too unpleasant to be out in the open. I drank the last of my water, I telephoned home and spoke to my family warning them I would be late.

Random acts of kindness

My car was parked on a main road, at that time there was about one car going past every minute. Three police cars drove straight past. but during this time, something else remarkable happened five drivers stopped and offered to help, by giving me a lift home or changing the wheel. In positive psychology we talk about the need to promote random acts of kindness and how this will help. These strangers were offering this help.

It made me wonder, I had broken down before in a more urban area and nobody stopped, but here in a more rural area, five people stopped. Is it easier to do random acts of kindness in rural areas?

Examples of kindness

I further thought of a couple of other examples of kindness. I was using the staff canteen in the university where I teach the other day, one of the tutors walked up to a student she did not know and paid for her coffee, then walked away. It was interesting being a fly on the wall, the student first of all looked quizzical, then she smiled. She did not have a chance to say thank you, but she went over to her friends and spoke. She was animated in her response, as she told them of this strange event.

I further remember talking to my nursing students about the need to be kind to themselves and to the people around them. In fact, early on in their programme I encourage the students to carry out random acts of kindness, such as smiling at others and doing little things for others without the thought of being rewarded. Some took this on board and some didn’t. We talk about this after a week or two and what happens is those who have practiced talk about how they felt better for there actions. Others join in and remember other instances where a kindness has meant a great deal.

Talking with friends about their experiences of care – the one’s who say they had the best care were those who could recall simple events, such as the cleaner carrying my clothes back to her room or the man who had a nurse speak to him about his feelings. Both can be seen as simple acts of kindness.

The other thing that struck me because of the car incident was that the people who offered help, I said “no” to because the breakdown receovery service were coming. It strikes me that sometimes, we need to be ready to accept the kindness offered by others.

Being kind to yourself

As well as being kind to others, there is a need to be kind to yourself. Again and again, I am reminded by friends and colleagues that I am kind to everyone else but myself, so my objective over the next twelve weeks is to learn a new lesson – to look at ways I can be kind to myself. Kindness to self – for me, this means taking breaks, spending time with families and friends, taking the dog for a walk and reframing my automatic negative thoughts of self when I make a mistake. Incidentally, if others condemn themselves in my presence, I challenge them! So treating myself with that same level of kindness is my challenge to self.

‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’

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