A few years ago an elderly couple stopped their car and helped a distressed and incoherent stranger who was standing in the middle of the road flagging them down. Without any hesitation they helped this person into their car and took her to the hospital and then they never saw her again.
That person was me, I had suddenly experienced the worst headache I had ever had in my life and I was deeply concerned about my well-being. These strangers looked after me and they made that scary moment so much easier to handle. I recovered once at the hospital and the doctor had no clue what had happened to me.
So, this article is not about my head doing something a bit odd, but about that couple doing something that is surprisingly common. They performed an 'act of kindness'.
I am sure many of you have felt the benefits of people acting with kindness towards you, maybe someone gave you a gentle, understanding smile when you were struggling with a toddler mid-tantrum in a busy supermarket aisle. Or maybe you literally fell over and someone helped you up and stayed with you while you recovered from the shock.
If we think about it, it is apparent that kindness comes in millions of forms, and unlike 'happiness' which is an emotion, 'Kindness' is an action, an action where we choose to be the best person we can be for another person (or animal or a place) and we expect no benefits in return for ourselves.
But benefits there are, in abundance, studies have shown that if you are the giver or the receiver or simply an observer of an 'act of kindness' you can experience an increase in the hormone Oxytocin, otherwise known as the 'love hormone' this can lead to improvements in your physical and mental health.
Completing an act of kindness can make us all feel good, the act increases serotonin in your body which helps us become calm, kindness can even reduce certain types of pain.
There have also been studies done that show if you go out of your way to practice kindness at least six times a week, even something as simple as choosing to open a door for someone, this can reduce symptoms of anxiety and help people become less socially isolated and more confident connecting in the community.
So, the evidence is scientific and evidenced based but what we all love is to share and hear about acts of kindness and this is what I am now inviting you to do.
Please share with us your stories of when an un-expectant act of kindness, big or small helped you or your family or friends - you can wax lyrical or simply tell us in a brief sentence what the kindness was and how it made you feel. You might want to choose to thank the person concerned and let them know you are grateful for the thing they did and what it meant to you, or you can tell the story and remain anonymous.
We will then display your stories as part of 'the garden of the mind' an immersive performance that will include music, video, installations and performances created by locals working alongside professionals from the world of Australian theatre.
This exciting and beautiful event will happen on Saturday, October 12 the State Mine Museum as part of mental health month.
You can send your stories to us via our email email@example.com or pop them into the Lithgow Mercury office in person.
You can also book your free tickets for the 'Garden of the Mind' (a show suitable for ages 15+) at www.eventbrite.com.au or visit the Trybal Productions Facebook page.
PS. If the couple who picked me up from just near the Lithgow tourist information Centre and took me to hospital are reading this - thank you so much.
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