The Power of Kindness

The past year has been strange and difficult for most of us. It has been a time of loneliness, isolation and feeling unsure and we had to find new ways of being ‘normal’. Throughout this time the theme of kindness has been constant, with people volunteering to support their communities, donating food or cooking for frontline workers and fundraising for the NHS.

An act of kindness can be the tiniest thing, a simple smile as you step aside to let some pass on the street, it can start small and become huge. Kindness can improve our self-esteem, heighten our sense of belonging, reduce isolation, and help to keep things in perspective. Kindness also has the potential to make our world a happier place.

To celebrate kindness, we have put together a collection of books for adults and children, that promote kindness and its power to change our lives, communities, and world. Look out for these books in your local library or borrow them as eBooks and eAudiobooks from BorrowBox.

Jonny Benjamin – The stranger on the Bridge
In 2008, 20-year-old Jonny Benjamin stood on Waterloo Bridge, about to jump. A stranger saw his distress and stopped to talk with him – a decision that saved Jonny’s life. The Stranger on the Bridge is a memoir of the journey Jonny made both personally, and publicly to not only find the person who saved his life, but also to explore how he got to the bridge in the first place and how he continues to manage his diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder.

Christie Watson – The Language of Kindness
Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, this book is an astonishing account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion, and kindness. In our most extreme moments, when life is lived most intensely, Christie is with us and in these dark days of division and isolationism, she encourages us all to stretch out a hand.

Akwaeke Emezi – Freshwater
A sparkling debut novel exploring the idea of many ‘selves’, how we develop our identities and the impact of others around us.

Ingrid Persaud – Love after love
Brave and brilliant, steeped in affection, ‘Love After Love’ asks us to consider what happens at the very brink of human forgiveness, and offers hope to anyone who has loved and lost and has yet to find their way back.

Elizabeth Laird – Secret Friends
Rafaella finds it hard to make friends when she starts at a new school. Her name sounds strange, her ears stick out, she feels different from the others. And Lucy is the first to tease, the first to call her Earwig. But then a secret friendship begins.

Onjali Q Rauf – The boy at the back of the class
Told with humour and heart, The Boy at the Back of the Class offers a child’s perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn’t always make sense.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week will take place from Monday 18 to Sunday 24 May 2020. This year’s theme is kindness; a perfect theme to help us improve not just our own mental health, but that of those around us.

Why was kindness chosen for this year’s theme? Well, this is what Mark Rowland had to say:

Last week, I waited in a socially distanced queue outside the supermarket as the rain started to fall.
One of the staff noticed we were getting wet. He scurried away to find a pile of umbrellas, carefully disinfected the handles and passed them out with a smile. To my surprise, my eyes started to well up. At a time when I felt alone, I suddenly felt connected.  

Mark Rowland, Chief Executive at Mental Health Foundation

Kindness is what strengthens our bond with others, what unites and brings the community together. It’s a fundamental part of life, not just in humans, but all living things.
And when shown to ourselves and others, increases ones happiness and improves our mental health.

It’s important to show kindness to others, but often we forget to show it to ourselves. We are usually our own biggest critic and many set unreasonable targets for themselves. If this sound like you, why not try and show some self-kindness this week? Give yourself praise and acknowledge how amazing you are – for it’s true. There’s no-one better at being you, then you. Learn more about self-kindness in this article by Marianna Pogosyan Ph.D.

It can be easier said then done, and sometimes we hold back in fear of looking silly, or making a fool of ourselves. It takes courage to give a compliment, to put oneself out there to brighten someone’s day. But together, we can support each other to take that step to spread kindness around us.

With social distancing it can be even harder to find a way to show kindness, so here’s a couple of ideas on how you can spread kindness in your community!

A message in the window

Spread love and kindness by inspirational quotes, or cheerful messages in your windows.

Leave a message in a book

This one will take a bit more time, but write a message on a note and leave it in your library books for the next person to discover.
Once the libraries reopen, and the books have gone through quarantine, they will be loaned out once more. And how nice would it be for the next person to find a happy message when they open that book?

Send a letter

Send a letter to someone in your life, telling them why they are important to you, or just a letter to tell them what a wonderful person they are.
We don’t send many letters these days, which makes receiving one even more special.

Take some ‘me time’!

Showing kindness is important, and showing self-kindness is just as important. Take a few hours, or a day, just for you. If you live with people, explain that you’re taking some ‘me-time’ and would like to not be disturbed for a bit. Take the chance to do something for you – write, read, listen to music, paint or anything else that brings happiness to you.
And whatever you choose to do, be kind to yourself, be proud and find something to praise yourself about.

There are some great books to read about kindness – perfect for those times when you want to relax and recharge your batteries and give your mind a break.
We’ve handpicked 10 that we think are the perfect books to read right now. These can all be found as eBooks, with some also available as eAudiobooks, through the BorrowBox app using your Hampshire Library card.
If you’ve never used our eLibrary, we have two helpful videos, one for iOS devices and the other for android devices.
If you prefer written instructions, you can find those here.

Kindness and Wonder
by Gavin Edwards

Available as an eBook and an eAudiobook

For more than thirty years, Fred Rogers was a beloved fixture in American homes. Warm and welcoming, he spoke directly to children—and their parents—about the marvels of the world, the things that worried them, and above all, the importance of being themselves. Dressed in his cardigan and sneakers, Fred Rogers offered a wholesome message of generosity and love that changed the landscape of television and shaped a generation of children.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman

Available as an eBook

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

The Kindness Method
by Shahroo Izadi

Available as an eBook and an eAudiobook

Map your habits, set your own goals, and treat yourself with the kindness you truly deserve.
Shahroo Izadi has a revolutionary message: treating yourself kindly is the only way to make changes that last. 

Finding Audrey
by Sophie Kinsella

Young Adult Fiction
Available as an eBook and an eAudiobook

Be prepared to laugh, dream and hope with Audrey as she learns that even when you feel like you have lost yourself, love can still find you . . .

Everything here is Beautiful
by Mira T. Lee

Available as an eBook and an eAudiobook

Told in alternating points of view, Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its heart, the story of a young woman’s quest to find fulfillment and a life unconstrained by her illness. But it’s also an unforgettable, gut-wrenching story of the sacrifices we make to truly love someone—and when loyalty to one’s self must prevail over all.

15 Minutes to Happiness
by Richard Nicholls

Available as an eBook and an eAudiobook

Would you like to feel happier and more fulfilled…but struggle to find time in your life to focus on yourself? What if, with only a few minutes each day, you could find the secret to happiness?

Radical Kindness
by Angela C. Santomero

Available as an eBook and an eAudiobook

From the true meaning of self-care and the gift of vulnerability, to the importance of active listening or the magic of asking for help, Radical Kindness goes beyond The Golden Rule and entreaties to “be nice,” contending that kindness is the key to recognizing others, and ourselves, as worthy of love and understanding.

Swing Sideways
by Nanci Turner Steveson

Children’s Fiction
Available as an eBook and an eAudiobook

When Annie meets California, who is visiting her grandfather’s farm, it seems she has found the perfect partner for the summer she’s always craved. Especially when California offers Annie a real-life adventure: if she and Annie can find the ponies her mom rode as a girl, surely it will remind her mom how wonderful the farm is—and fix what’s broken between her mom and her grandfather.

by Jaime Thurston

Available as an eAudiobook

The book is themed around 52 simple actions you can do to spread kindness. Interspersed throughout are nuggets of science explaining the positive effect kindness has on the brain and on the heart. This book is a call to action for people to live a more connected, fulfilling life. With inspirational quotes and personal stories this book will give you all the motivation you need to start spreading a little kindness – it’s free after all!

The Language of Kindness
by Christie Watson

Available as an eBook and an eAudiobook

In our most extreme moments, when life is lived most intensely, Christie is with us. She is a guide, mentor and friend. And in these dark days of division and isolationism, she encourages us all to stretch out a hand.

These are all available through the BorrowBox app, along with other similarly wonderful books. Check out the app, and keep an eye out for the special kindness featured books.

If you’re looking to improve your mental health, one way is by taking up a new hobby, whether it’s a sport or craft, staying active and busy can help.
Many of our libraries have regular craft groups that meet in the library, these include knitting, crocheting, sewing, scrap booking and painting groups. With the current situation, these groups are unable to meet in person, but you can find great craft eMagazines through our digital library and helpful craft videos to get you started over on our Facebook page.

Our Learning in Libraries team have been busy planning the courses and workshops coming up, and we’ll share all that with you once it’s ready. In the meantime, why not familiarise yourself with the tutors, and pick up some tips and tricks.
You can find them here!

Kindness, towards yourself and others, will aid in improved mental health for everyone. We hope that this blog has given you some ideas on how you can spread kindness in your life and in the community. And with Empathy Day being only weeks away, 9 June 2020, this is the perfect time to gear up towards it!

We would love to hear what you’ve been, or are doing as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, and how you’ve spread kindness. Let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

And remember; even if it’s “only” one person’s life you brighten – that’s enough. For if we all do a little, together we’ll make alot.

Stay safe, take care of yourself and remember; you’re an amazing person!

If you feel affected by what we’ve talked about in this blog, the above three organisations are here to help.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

About the book

‘Here we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything – even die’ – Haji Ali, Korphe Village Chief, Karakoram mountains, Pakistan. In 1993, after a terrifying and disastrous attempt to climb K2, a mountaineer called Greg Mortenson drifted, cold and dehydrated, into an impoverished Pakistan village in the Karakoram Mountains. Moved by the inhabitants’ kindness, he promised to return and build a school. “Three Cups of Tea” is the story of that promise and its extraordinary outcome. Over the next decade Mortenson built not just one but fifty-five schools – especially for girls – in remote villages across the forbidding and breathtaking landscape of Pakistan and Afghanistan, just as the Taliban rose to power. His story is at once a riveting adventure and a testament to the power of the humanitarian spirit.

Reviewed by Ringwood Reading Group:

Really divided the group

Star rating: **+

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