Today’s article comes as part of a campaign on the importance of acts of kindness in partnership with DoubleTree by Hilton.
But first, a personal story…
I lay beneath the bright, fight of spotlights, in pain but keeping still.
The small of my back ached but there was a deeper pain inside. The doctor continued the search for cancer, the suspicion of which had led to this urgent chain of events, this meeting in an operating theatre in December, the one that needed me awake.
The pain grew.
Despite myself, I let out a cry.
One nurse, new to the job, took my hand with hers and held both in the centre of my chest.
And that small gesture lifted the weight of the world.
It connected me to a place more inviting than this artificial box of surgical steel. A place where people cared.
All with one, small, simple act of kindness.
To those of you who know me, or who hang out often on the blog, I would never have thought that that would be my style. I’m a woman of facts, of stats. Of a robust level of cynicism blended with a belief that we can build a better future for this world.
That single incident, that moment with a stranger, restored more hope, more comfort and more faith in my life than I even knew was missing.
And I’ve been thinking ever since, ever more about small acts of kindness. Of where we can go to find them – and more importantly, I suppose, what we can do to give.
The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you. ~John E. Southard
It seems common sense, really, that kindness begets kindness. Someone does a good turn to you, you feel more inclined to be a little kinder to the very next person you meet.
And as time goes by, it seems that research does indeed support that belief.
The University of Cambridge has investigated the science of well-being (a code name for happiness) for several years.
Now, the hospitality industry is taking notice too.
A recent partnership between DoubleTree by Hilton and The School of Life aims to promote the understanding of kindness and what they like to call the DoubleTree Effect: the observation that kindness generates more kindness.
DoubleTree by Hilton have put kind customer service at the heart of their 460+ hotel operation, the most visible sign of which is a warm chocolate-chip cookie given out at reception whenever you check in.
What’s more, they ran Mastering the Art of Kindness classes in partnership with The School of Life over the summer of 2016 and they invited me to spread the word
The report, Mastering the Art of Kindness, makes for interesting reading.
“Kindness doesn’t carry enough glamour or prestige in our society. We generally hear more about how we should aspire to be successful, creative, or productive. And yet, at their core, so many of the problems that individuals and organisations are trying to solve could be better addressed through kindness.”
Alain de Botton, School of Life¹
Based on an online survey of more than 2000 people, adjusted for demographics and with a margin of error of 2.19%, plus some hefty background reading, it reveals some of the following points:
“The scientific consensus is also clear on the benefits of kindness, as the psychologist Martin Seligman reports³, ‘we have found that doing a kind act produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.'”
Interestingly, for a travel blog, there is a specific section on the role of kindness in travel.
I’ve written before about the kindness of strangers, the help when lost, tired, hungry and alone in a myriad of small but significant ways.
Indeed, I would say it feels as though our need, our longing for kindness increases with our sense of vulnerability. Whether pinned to an operating table or alone in a foreign land, whether facing grief or new parenthood for the first time or learning how to live with the diagnosis of a chronic illness, each place is a travel to a foreign land.
A place with new rules, new routines, new emotions and new facts to come to terms with, while surrounded by those who either don’t care or who already know the terrain so well they seldom notice our struggles.
DoubleTree by Hilton tend to agree.
In their words
“Kindness during travel is often doubly moving because it comes from strangers, who have no obligation towards us; they are not even our neighbours, like the strangers at home. This sort of kindness comes from those who have little familiarity and can expect no future reciprocity; they simply look after us without expectation of reward. Because the kindness we give and receive during travel has less to do with reciprocity, we are far more likely to pay it forward.”
But as ever, it’s important to remember that nothing depends upon travel.
It’s possible to start a new healthy habit of kindness from wherever you are right now.
And that’s what I’m going to do.
“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.” – Kahlil Gibran
Disclosure – This post was produced as part of a partnership with DoubleTree by Hilton. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. I have not been able to test out the School of Life classes myself for this very good reason. However, I have stayed in many DoubleTree by Hilton properties and have thoroughly tested out those warm chocolate-chip cookies.
1- DoubleTree by Hilton US Survey, 2016 and the Mastering the Art of Kindness Report from the School of Life.
2 – Post, Stephen, and Jill Neimark. Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by the Simple Act of Giving. Harmony Books, 2008.
3 – Pinker, Steven. The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and its Causes. Penguin UK, 2011.