Have you even heard of the Helper’s High?
It’s that feeling of personal happiness that comes from giving something of value to another - such as a gift, attention or an offer of help.
Simply witnessing, or hearing about, an act of compassionate kindness makes us feel good, and also increases our desire to do good deeds ourselves - as seen and researched after the 9/11 tragedy in New York.
I recently saw a filmed social experiment which was shared on Facebook. There was a ‘homeless’ boy (I’d guess he’d be about 13 years old) who was under-dressed for the very cold weather and had only a dustbin liner to protect himself from the cold. He waited at the kerbside for help, as many people just walked ,or rushed, past him. Some did glance at him but they still ignored him.
The impact of the experiment - after two hours of filming - finally showed a homeless man approach the youngster, chat to him and then give the boy his own tatty jacket to wear.
The striking message was that perhaps you have to have known real hardship ourselves to be able to empathise with someone else’s plight - and be willing to help them.
Admittedly this experiment was carried out and filmed in a busy American city. I wonder what the reaction would have been in a smaller town. Would there have been more selfless time, kindness and compassion shown to the child?
We all need to exercise our empathy muscle and put ourself in someone else’s shoes - as best we can. Then to take the risk that our help won’t be rejected - it’s not wise to foist our opinions or help when it’s not wanted!
It starts with all of us doing our own little bit to help others, and knowing there’ll be a positive ripple effect that follows on from this.
What ‘random act of kindness’ can you do today, no matter how small?
When we show kindness and compassion it opens up the gate to more kindness in the world... like attracts like.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
Maxine Harley has a masters degree in psychotherapy, has written two books, and created four new approaches to psychological, emotional and physical well-being. She lives happily in Chichester with her daughter and grandson.