How giving small gifts can lead to long-term feelings of kindness

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As I sat down to write this blog, the buzzer in my flat went to announce the arrival of a delivery – something that’s not that unusual in these times, except that I wasn’t expecting anything. When I opened the parcel, I discovered that my sister – knowing my love of good coffee – had sent me some Grumpy Mule coffee to make my working from home a little nicer.  A random gift and act of kindness that has left me feeling positive and upbeat.

I always look forward to the reaction of the person I have given a gift to. The opportunity to delight someone else and bring a smile to their face always brings me a little bit of joy, and in fact viewed this way, a gift can be enjoyed twice over, by both the giver and the receiver.

However, the act of giving doesn’t need to include material items or have a monetary value. For example, donating blood is a gift that we give to others with no expectation of anything in return. Giving to others can also come in the form of acts of kindness – reaching out to check how someone is doing, an offer to spend time together, a compliment or word of appreciation can also be gifts that we give and receive – it can make both parties feel better and this can lead to less stress and a more positive frame of mind.

In her 1916 book, The Garden of Delight, Lily Hardy reflects, “You don’t pay love back, you pay it forward”. This concept of “paying it forward” has been popularised in movies, but at its heart is a way of making a difference in the world by creating a ripple of kindness everywhere.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme this year is kindness, one I think is particularly important during this time. Even ahead of this week, at Colt we have been focused on this theme, because we know that we need to be kind to ourselves and others during this uncertain and unprecedented time.

Colt more broadly has a strong culture of giving – whether that’s as part of events like the Colt Charity Bike Ride, or spending time planting trees or doing garden work for one of our charity partners. We have people that provide coaching and mentorship above and beyond their normal role, or volunteer to lead learning sessions on behalf of our employee network groups.

When we give gifts or kindnesses, it’s usually with the intention of creating happiness for both ourselves and the receiver, which when repeated can help to create a pattern of happiness. When our minds feel happy and inspired, we can be better equipped to deal with life’s challenges, which can also help us achieve consistently better mental health.

Louisa Gregory

19 May 2020

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