Showing kindness to others not only gives them a lift but can also boost your own mood.
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It makes me sound ancient, but a lot of my early entertainment as a toddler came via the radio, particularly from a programme called Listen With Mother which went out every day just after lunch, always starting with these words spoken by one of the imperious female presenters, who all sounded a bit like the Queen:
“Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.”
Ahhh. Even today, these seven words make me want to curl up and listen calmly as someone tells me a story – which was basically what Listen With Mother was all about.
One I remember well was Aesop’s fable The Lion and the Mouse.
Do you remember it? Maybe not. Here’s my quick retelling then. So if you’re sitting comfortably…
One day a huge lion lay down to rest in the jungle. While he snoozed, a tiny mouse went about its business, scampering here and there in the undergrowth.
Suddenly, without realising it, the careless mouse found itself right in front of the lion’s face, and in its fright and haste to get away it ran right over the lion’s nose.
Not surprisingly this woke up the lion, who was not amused. It raised its giant paw to crush the little mouse.
Seconds before it came crashing down, the mouse cried: “Stop! Please don’t hurt me. Let me go and I promise I’ll return the favour by helping you one day.”
Now, fortunately for the mouse, this greatly amused the lion.
“How could a creature so insignificant ever help someone as magnificent and formidable as me? But you’ve made me laugh, so just this once I’ll spare you.”
The lucky mouse breathed a huge sigh of relief (well, huge for a mouse anyway) and ran home as fast as its legs would carry it.
A couple of weeks later, the lion was unfortunate enough to become trapped in the nets of a hunter, and unable to free itself it let out an almighty roar which echoed from one end of the jungle to the other. Every creature heard this, including the mouse who, recognising the voice, scampered to find the trapped lion, and gnawed through the trap’s ropes to release the giant golden-maned beast.
The moral of the story? No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.
While I first heard this all those years ago, it’s incredibly wise advice that’s helped so much, especially during those times when I’ve struggled with a low mood, for the simple act of showing kindness to others can be an incredibly powerful way of making you feel better yourself.
So as today unfolds, why not look for opportunities to be kind to others? Big acts are great of course, but tiny acts can be just as powerful, taking up perhaps mere moments of your time.
I don’t think it matters whether you’re a mouse or a lion, just try to be kind.