The key to happiness

Harvard psychologist Shawn Achor unveils the key to being and staying happy, we can re-programme our brains, trust him he’s a psychologist!

I know the third and fifth are pretty crucial for my happiness and I’d like to work on practising gratitude and meditation. Which have helped you?

1. 3 gratitudes
2. Journaling
3. Exercise
4. Meditation
5. Random acts of kindness

Personal social responsibility:why i gave my bike away

Last year I started this blog to up my ‘personal social responsibility’. I’m treating it as an experiment: an exploration of the power of kindness. I volunteered with Spots of Time in the summer and it was amazing to see the difference a pampering day made to the elderly.

Communities can be a powerful entity both destructive and supportive. Living in London often means you don’t know your neighbour. I’ve been thinking about who in our community we know. I used to live in a small town (well village which is now a town) and everyone knew each other.

So…I’ve decided to expand my community and not just where I live. Through my blog I’ve ‘met’ people in the US doing amazing projects on kindness and lots of people in the UK. I’m doing an event in April which will raise money for different communities doing ‘good’ things (social enterprises mainly).

And I’m looking at possessions I don’t really need anymore and am finally doing something productive with them. I’m spreading a little bit of random acts of kindness by giving them away to someone who really needs it, so it will hopefully help them.

I put an ad on Gumtree saying someone could have my bike for free, they just needed to let me know why they wanted it.

The aim was to pick someone who it would make the biggest difference for. I got over 70 responses and stopped the ad, so I could try to get to know a shortlist of people a bit better.

Sheri and some of her family came to pick my bike up this morning, including her gorgeous 1 year old. She looked at my blog and kindly told me about a community project, The Workshop, run in West Norwood that she thought I’d like.

Sheri strongly believes in the power of communities herself and volunteers some of her time to teach beauty & makeup, for people who couldn’t afford it otherwise (I found this out afterwards).

The experiment in ‘personal social responsibility’ is just beginning….

The good giraffe’s acts of kindness

The Good Giraffe

Mohammad Hirzallah was at the North Bridge,
Edinburgh, on 10 November.

The saying goes ‘the less you have, the more you give’. And that’s certainly true about The Good Giraffe.

Armstrong Baillie is unemployed and gives to strangers because it makes other people happy??

His random acts of kindness are done dressed as a giraffe (his favourite animal). He got the idea from “a man in a gorilla costume playing drums on the streets around Edinburgh… he really made me smile, and I know I wasn’t the only one,” he told Scotsman.com. I wonder what Phil Colins would think.

He hitch-hikes and busks to spend the donations on kind deeds: free bananas at the Edinburgh Half Marathon, coffee to cold passers by, £10 vouchers to mothers in hospitals. All just to be kind and cheer people up.

The Good Giraffe has been causing a bit of a stir and debate in online communities, some think it’s nice others just plain mad?

I wonder if brands or organisations like the Kindness Offensive will get The Good Giraffe involved in events.

The truck that’s spreading happiness

Whether you like Coca-Cola or not, I’m sure most people will like this.
They’ve created a ‘happiness machine on wheels’ which can surely only be a good thing?
I like the way the machine is now portable so you don’t know where it will strike next (the happiness drink vending machine from last year racked up nearly 5million views).
Roll on random acts of kindness!

How Panera got it so right – 650k Likes by simply showing a little compassion

This is a brilliant blog post by Bill Taylor about the importance of humanity in business. It’s also a great story about someone who went the extra mile below…

Brandon Cook, from New Hampshire, was visiting his grandmother in hospital. She unfortunately was dying of cancer and complained to her grandson that she desperately wanted a bowl of soup (but the hospital’s soup was inedible). Her favourite soup was clam chowder from Panera Bread but it’s only sold on a Friday.

Brandon called the nearby Panera and talked to store manager, Suzanne Fortier. Sue made clam chowder especially for Brandon’s grandmother (even though it wasn’t a Friday) and she included a box of cookies as a special gift.

Brandon told the story on his Facebook page and then Brandon’s mother, Gail Cook, retold the story on Panera’s fan page. Gail’s post generated over 650 000 “likes” and more than 22,000 comments on Panera’s Facebook page. Panera got something that no amount of traditional advertising can buy and that they certainly wouldn’t have planned to get — a genuine sense of affiliation and appreciation from customers and potential customers.

And for Brandon’s family and grandmother such a compassionate action will stay with them forever. When my grand dad died he had some amazing last meals, which no doubt sends them off in a happy place.

Small acts of kindness can make a big difference.

The Kindness Cab

Last year Leon Logothetis gave free rides to strangers in his kindness cab, raising over £10,000 to fund books for Classwish.org. This year he did the Mongol Rally with his team mates, nicknamed the Flying Dutchman, and 10,000 books were donated to firstbook.org.

He swapped his life as a city broker to pursue his dreams to travel the world and spread kindness: “If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” –Frank A. Clark

American Bear Film – an adventure in the kindness of strangers

American Bear Film sticker

I stumbled across American Bear a few months ago and can’t wait to see their film at the end of this year. Sarah and Greg travelled the country for 60 days, relying on the kindness of strangers. They did a kickstarter campaign to raise the funds. Their belief: the power of the individual as the greatest resource for generating change in the world, starting with simple acts of kindness.

I’ve been in touch with Sarah and they really are great people, she kindly sent me some stickers from the US. I think I’ll create a little badge for my blog from it.

They have a lovely section on their site where you can email stories about kindness under ‘Your Voice’, they’re hoping to create a movement around acts of kindness, so get involved.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5yJtP4IFhU&feature=player_embedded]

Pay It Forward – Stranger kindness

I’ve been on the hunt for stories about kindness, how one person has helped another and discovered something very exciting. Something much bigger, that can connect people across the world no matter what their religion is, through simple methods – stranger kindness.

What is the Pay it Forward movement

The beauty of it is in it’s simplicity, the Pay it Forward bracelet, which acts as a reminder, something to pass onto a stranger, which creates the ripple effect: ‘Some people call us crazy, we prefer visionaries. The ideology behind “Pay it Forward” allows us the freedom to look at life from a different perspective.’

The concept is actually something that’s been around since 317 BC and Benjamin Franklin re-discovered it in 1784. In 1944 to gained traction with the development of what became the Heifer Project, whose core strategy was passing on the gift:

‘each participating family would study animal husbandry and agree to Pass on the Gift, to donate any female animal offspring to another family. In this fashion, he imagined that a single gift would multiply far beyond the original investment’

The history of Pay it Forward

Pay it Forward isn’t something new, it has a very long history. Why hasn’t it become more mainstream and part of what we’re taught at school? Why don’t we have a Pay it Forward day, to help raise the level of consciousness?

It’s incredible on so many levels, their ambition is 1 billion bracelets worldwide and I’m pretty sure Charley will reach this. He’s a very busy man but kindly did a video interview for me to answer some questions I had, which you can watch below.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IgfUuzmABs]

They’re doing a worldwide book flash mob on March 28th at 4pm and here’s how you can get involved. They’d like to set a Guinness Book of World Records. Or if you’re not around then, do something nice on the Pay it Forward Day April 26th. This video is not quite the Kony video, maybe that’s because it’s not as sensational but it is realistic and a ‘Idea worth spreading’ (which Tedx guests agree with).