Emily Stamp praises the atmosphere of giving and kindness around the festive period, but questions why we don't extend this attitude to our daily lives in general. Emily advocates a movement of greater general kindness amongst humanity and reminds us that individuals making small adjustments, en masse can make a huge difference. It has been proven that kindness and concentrating one's efforts on generosity is highly beneficial to our happiness, so if everybody made a greater effort to be kind and giving the world would be a happier place in more ways than one.
The Christmas period is often full of charity drives. People seem to be in a happier, more giving mood and this is reflected in the increase in charity sales over this period, from Christmas gifts to general donations. Yet at other times of year people seem to be less generous with little to no reason why. If anything, Christmas is one of the more expensive times of year with money going towards increasingly expensive Christmas meals, Christmas gifts and Christmas trees. Some argue that it may be because we are going to see family, or that traditional stories such as ‘A Christmas Carol’ remind us of the less fortunate or that people are just happy to be in the festive spirit and be off work for a week between Christmas and New Year. Yet is that an excuse to be more giving only over Christmas? Can we extend this generous spirit to other parts of the year?
One way to do this is small monthly donations, dependent on what you are able to give. It is easy to forget about the odd £5 that may come out of your account at the start of every month, but over the year that £60 could be important to someone. Plus the equivalent of 2 coffees a month is hardly extortionate when you realise how much money is ‘wasted’ over the year through small unneeded expenses.
Another way is to always put your change in the charity boxes at shopping tills. Pennies add up, and if everyone was to just round up their purchase, or select the self service options that some supermarkets have to give 5p to charity, and then small amounts of change could translate into widespread change for those on the receiving end. Pay forward a coffee where able (which goes to homeless people) or put that loose change in a charity box. What seems like little money to you could be money that others simply cannot spare, or that is needed for a particular project.
Kindness is seen as an important factor to giving. It is assumed that over the holiday period people give more as they are feeling happier, and therefore kinder and more willing to be ‘nice’ by giving money. Now, this doesn’t mean that the rest of the year you are less kind but generosity comes from being altruistic towards others, and this seems to occur most in the festive period. Pick a cause that is important to you, maybe raise money through a Macmillan coffee morning (or adapt this to your chosen charity), or run a 10km for charity and choose to invest your money in that instead. Instead of giving indiscriminately it is possible to really help a project, person or charity by investing solely in them.
This kindness can extend to others too; give a helping hand because you can. Not because you feel obliged to or you are happy enough to do so. Even just the reward of a smile is worth it! Being overgenerous in itself is an issue but aim to be as giving as you can, with what you can. Not everyone is going to want to visit or work with the elderly or the homeless, but anyone can donate pocket change - play to your strengths. In a clichéd way, the world would be a nicer place if everyone remained giving throughout the year. Remember that your small contributions amount to larger impacts as there is a collective, wider social movement of generosity; and if possible give when you can.