Bright on World Kindness Day

Image by Megan Reddi.

Now more than ever, the world needs kindness. This year has been full of surprises (some good, some not-so-good), and as we near the end of the year, it’s important to focus on how we can move forward together, united and creative as ever!

World Kindness Day is a time to celebrate random acts of kindness towards others. In the past, celebrations have included flash mobs, text waves (texting random numbers encouragement), hug campaigns, and more.

Not sure how to celebrate? Get creative! It’s as simple as sharing a meal or jotting down what you’re grateful for. Creativity breeds awareness, empathy, and compassion. Read on to learn more about why creativity rocks and why you should use it year-round.

1. Perspective Shift

We live in a diverse world, and creativity – even the diversity within it – pushes us to grow and learn from others. This can be a challenging process; when we see things we don’t understand (or even like), our instinct is to avoid it or push it away. But if we approach things creatively and try to see from others’ perspectives, we will start to experience life from multiple points of view. We learn to empathise. Again, this is not always easy, but stretching ourselves teaches us to appreciate things we never noticed (or valued) before. Because creativity ignites more creativity, it’s natural to explore uncharted territory and make new connections! When this becomes natural, so will connecting with new ideas and new people. It pulls us out of our comfort zone and into meaningful, genuine living.

Putting it into Practice:
Keep a list of 3 things you learn each week and 1 thing that you found valuable about each lesson (this can be professionally, personally, etc.) Review this list at the end of each month and reflect on how valuable different perspectives are!

For the Extra-Adventurous:
Compliment someone every day who  looks (or dresses) differently from you.

2. Expression and Processing

Creativity helps us process emotions and circumstances – it also heightens our awareness of our surroundings and ourselves. This increases self-awareness and changes the way we see the world! Mindfulness makes us more attuned to ourselves and those around us. This, naturally, builds empathy. Unresolved thoughts and feelings don’t stay dormant forever – eventually, even the most repressed fears, concerns, and issues emerge – that’s why we need to learn to express them in healthy ways. This isn’t the same as “venting” – rather, creative expression helps keep things in perspective and allows us to focus on what’s really important (for example: showing kindness to others!).

Putting it into Practice:
At the end of each day, before sleeping, jot down anything that’s itching in your mind. This will help you shed unnecessary worries or frustrations, sleep well, and start the next day fresh.

For the Extra-Adventurous:
Social media can be a drag. Instead of getting pulled into the dark spiral of online cynicism, resolve to post only positive things (at least for a day or two).

3. Social Creativity

Creativity is magnetic, and it’s natural to create with others – what’s more, when you create with others and share a common goal, it’s easier to work together! Creativity unites individuals who ordinarily wouldn’t interact. When you share a common goal or passion, it’s easy to make connections and see from others’ perspectives. Social creativity is an amazing way to build up others and your entire community!

Putting it into Practice:
Host a meetup in your building, neighbourhood, office, or in a nearby park (or café if it’s too cold) – discuss a book, share snacks, swap colouring books, go on an Instagram scavenger hunt. Anything goes – just work together!

4. Self-Care and Kindness

Kindness starts small. Often we focus on others first without embracing ourselves – though it may work at first, we end up wearing ourselves out. It’s not a sustainable kindness! Luckily, creativity teaches us to be compassionate not only with others, but with ourselves. It’s okay to set time aside for yourself – to create, to read, to cook, to nap. Practically speaking, we can care for others better (and show kindness to them) when we can properly care for ourselves. It sounds easy, but self-care requires perseverance! Mustering the energy to create helps us emotionally, even if we’re feeling drained at first. The fog in our heads lift when we give ourselves something meaningful – though calming – to do. This helps us clear our thoughts and stay away from exasperating, negative cycles of thought.

Putting it into Practice:
We are our own worst critics, which often discourages us from creating in the first place. Shut down the self-sabotage by persevering and creating anyway! Fake it till you make it. Practising creativity inches you closer and closer to self-acceptance – so go easier on yourself. Redefine your “mistakes” or “failures” and see them as opportunities and lessons.

5. Keep an Open Mind

Without realising it, simple creative practices make us happier. We accumulate countless judgements, critiques, and complaints over the course of a day – exercising creativity gives us a chance to refocus and derail those negative thoughts. I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again: it’s all about perspective. Quit overthinking. Give your brain a rest! This is as simple as making a meal or drawing. When we do these things, we fixate less on individual pieces of information and think more broadly (in layman’s terms: we zone out and stress less). This minimum judgement and maximum relaxation, whether you’re braiding challah or solving a crossword puzzle.

Putting it into Practice:
Invite a friend (or three!) for a meal. Everyone can contribute a few shopping list items. Slow down and enjoy cooking together! Creating in the company of others easing and empathy (besides, a hot meal doesn’t hurt).

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