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Just One Thing

When I’m driving to work, I like to listen to podcasts. One that I have been particularly enjoying recently is Just One Thing by Dr Michael Mosley. The idea is that Dr Mosley tells us about one thing we could do that could significantly improve our health and wellbeing. It’s generally simple and an easy action to incorporate into our daily routines, which has been well researched and proven to be helpful. Subjects have included such simple things as taking vitamin D, listening to music, and having a cup of tea!

One recent episode informed me that practicing regular acts of kindness can make a big difference to our health. Acts of kindness are clearly good for the person on the receiving end, but research shows that they are also good for the giver. They can improve happiness, relieve pain, and reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression. Acts of kindness also appears to have a powerful effect on our immune system by reducing inflammation. It’s quite amazing.

Acts of kindness can also provide a store of memories that we can recall and tell others. The telling of good news is also good for us.

It may seem obvious that being kind is good for us, but it appears that we need reminding. The Bible is full of advice about being kind. Jesus told us that to live fulfilled lives we should love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. The apostle Paul, in his wonderful description of love (1 Corinthians 13), lists kindness amongst the first and most important characteristics. To the church at Ephesus, he appealed ‘be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’

I have certainly found that after volunteering, whether at the foodbank, night shelter, or men’s shed, I have always come away feeling better. My mood has lifted. I have often felt more grateful and appreciative for the many blessings I have received.

Michael Mosley’s advice is that we intentionally do three acts of kindness a stat the habit. The acts can be as simple as making a cup of coffee for a colleague or phoning a lonely neighbour; the power is not in the size of the gesture but in its frequency and variety. Mixing them up and doing them for different people is key.

John Wesley, the great eighteenth century evangelist would have agreed, but he may have encouraged us to do even more:

Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.

Whether we take advice from Dr Mosley or John Wesley, it sounds like being kind is a good thing for us all!