Love and kindness are more contagious than coronavirus

Love and kindness are more contagious than coronavirus

Despite social isolation and worrying financial uncertainty, Australians are making a world of difference with these simple acts of kindness.

At a time when uncertainty and chaos are powering greed and selfishness, another human quality, a generous spirit, has emerged from crisis — that of kindness. A kindness both considered, and as random as a smile for a stranger.

Despite social isolation and worrying financial uncertainly, Australians are arming themselves with that most powerful of weapons, simple acts of kindness, to fight COVID-19.

While some think only of themselves, many are coming together, revealing the country’s long treasured values of mateship, compassion and generosity still flourish in tough times.

Social media sites have been flooded with acts of compassion. From donating coffee to health care workers and chocolates to teachers, to cooking meals for neighbours and shopping for the elderly.

From the Kindness Pandemic Facebook page

Experts have warned that acts of kindness — no matter how small — have never been more important.

And love, says psychiatrist Karan Sinha, is more contagious than the deadly coronavirus.

“It also has the power to spread more widely,” Dr Sinha said.

“I am seeing a lot of great initiatives like adopt a health care worker, or people volunteering to get groceries for someone. People are reaching out, and that’s really important.

Dr Karan Sinha warns love is more contagious than the coronavirus.

“Compassion tempers the body’s stress mechanisms, so it is a powerful way to reduce anxiety too, and immunity can be strengthened if you are less stressed. It’s a good time that the community can rally together against a common enemy — physical isolation doesn’t have to mean emotional isolation.”

Ali Walker, Social Scientist for the Centre for Social Impact, UNSW Sydney, said Australians will look back on as this period as the time they learned to reconnect with their communities.

“Imagine if this once in a lifetime pandemic becomes the turning point for the way we treat each other,” Dr Walker said.

It’s the simple gestures making big difference as Emma Eileen demonstrated in her Facebook post.

“Many people who are panic buying and stocking up on toilet paper would say that they are thinking collectively, for their family.

“This unprecedented time is asking us to expand our idea of the collective.

“It’s not just our family. It’s not just our suburb or community. It’s not just our city or state. It’s not even just our country. We cope with a big world through tiny, kind gestures.”

She suggested some easy ways to be kind included checking in on neighbours and extended family, smiling and waving to strangers or sending a text to frontline health workers to thank them.

“We need connection now more than ever,” Dr Walker said. “Most of all, we need to expand our minds to be others-centred rather than self-centred. We will all feel much better.

“Science tells us that being kind is actually one of the best things we can do for ourselves — it boosts our mood and makes us happier.”

Yoga teacher Lisa Ball can attest to that. The 37-year-old former lawyer from Melbourne didn’t know what to do to help others, so she went to her local Coles and started by doing little but important things.

“Even before I got into the supermarket, there was a woman in her late 80s struggling to carry a bag, so I went up to talk to her,” she said.

Lisa Ball and friends have been volunteering at Coles during the pandemic helping those in need with their shopping, much to the delight of Coles store support manager John Agorakis.

“She had just had cataract surgery and could barely see. There was no stock but staff had given her one toilet roll.

“She was really confused and disoriented, so I took her to a taxi, got her phone number and have been checking in on her.”

Horrified, Ms Ball approached the manager and asked to come back as a volunteer. And she brought friends.

“The first day we arrived at 6.45am and this very elderly, frail woman was walking away from the supermarket,” Ms Ball said. “She had woken up at 5am to get there, but when she saw the queues she panicked.

Krista Henriques and cricketer husband Moses – with 10-week-old son Archie – started the Cart Buddy Initiative.

“We helped her and got her what she needed. Her name was Joan, she was 91 and she used to fly military planes.

“In times of crisis, we can either panic, or we can remember what it feels like to care for one another. I am young, healthy and want to help. And because I am, I felt the most positive and uplifted I have in weeks.”

Krista Henriques and cricketer husband Moses knew how hard it was to shop with their 10-week-old son Archie in tow, so started the Cart Buddy Initiative, linking healthy volunteers to the vulnerable so they can shop for them.

“As a new mum I was relying on Coles deliveries but they have stopped, so it got me thinking about the people who are self isolating and how they are getting their food,” Ms Henriques, 31, said.

“So I spoke to the Kindness Factory and we started Cart Buddy, and have had a really overwhelming response.

“It’s one of those things — we tend to distance ourselves even from our neighbours, so it’s really beautiful to see so many people who want to help.”

Manja Briffa joined Facebook page The Kindness Pandemic, which has attracted 145,000 members since starting a week ago.

A note pinned to a wall in a Woolworths supermarket.

Alarmed by how people had been treating supermarket staff, the Melbourne teacher went to her local Coles, purchased some chips, chocolates and treats, and then told the cashier to keep them for staff to brighten their day.

“She actually became quite emotional and she called the manager over, who said that was the first nice thing someone had done since the craziness started,” Ms Briffa said.

“I just wanted them to know people care.”

Rural butcher Paul Maguire was blown away to be given an envelope with $200 cash, with a note asking for it to be spent on meat for the vulnerable.

“Things like that make you feel better after the way people have been carrying on about toilet paper and food,” he said.

“People are being kinder – up at the local IGA there was no toilet paper, so the owners got theirs from home and were giving it to people for free.”

Share random acts of kinds with #bekind to spread hope and joy around the world.