Acts of Kindness
These occur whenever you do something for someone, usually without asking and expecting nothing in return. Such random actions will often make you feel much better about yourself and the circumstances surrounding your diagnosis.
For me, kindness is a behavioural response that is linked to your ability to feel compassion and empathy for others. When you are kind to others, not only do you feel connected to others, but there is also a release of neurochemicals, known as the ‘feel-good chemicals’, that makes you and the recipient of your actions, feel better. As a result, you end up creating positivity all around you.
Where possible, I always try to do random acts of kindness every day. These can be as simple as always giving way to others when I’m out walking my dogs, saying hello to strangers during my morning walks to more meaningful examples such as when customers come for dinner at our family restaurant, I would always try to make sure that everyone had a good experience by splitting bills, providing special wines at realistic prices, providing young children with a dessert at no extra cost, or candles/sparklers if a special occasion is being celebrated.
Recently, two events have occurred which are indicative of the impact that acts of kindness can have.
Quote from Sarah T : "Bill is a family friend, who I met through the South Curly Surf Club. When speaking of my difficulties about choosing which university courses to pursue after high school, Bill generously offered to run a few career counselling sessions with me. We had multiple career sessions which then turned into chemistry tutoring – all of which were extremely beneficial to my learning and confidence in approaching higher education. Bill was incredibly helpful, patient and understanding. He helped me explore all of my options and set expectations about what HSC exams, results and university study would entail. Bill has been an amazing mentor, dedicating hours of his time out of pure kindness, and I am incredibly grateful for his support’.
During the winter months, a couple used to come to the restaurant in the afternoon and sit quietly sharing a drink. When I learned that Frank had Alzheimer’s Disease and his wife, Denise, was his primary carer, I used to spend a lot of time with them, discussing the challenges that they were facing and how they were managing the myriad of demands that this disease places on you. Then, all of a sudden, they stopped coming to the restaurant. After about three months, Denise returned to the restaurant with three of her close friends, and I learnt that she had just recently decided to place her husband into aged care (due to the advancement of his Alzheimer’s Disease). In our discussion, I told Denise I believed she had made the correct decision. As they were leaving the restaurant, she approached me and asked me ‘How do you know that I made the right decision?’. I thought for a while, before I told her that I had also been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and when the time came, I hoped that my wife would also have the strength to make the same decision she had made. With tears rolling down her cheeks, she gave me a big hug and thanked me. Recently, I had the opportunity to re-live this event, when Denise returned to the restaurant, with her daughter (Mandy) and grandson, John. It is with her permission, that I have provided this recount and the following comment: "Bill’s advice at this time, gave me a lot of reassurance that I was doing the right thing, even though deep down I believed I was failing my husband"
Acts of Kindness also work both ways. Towards the end of 2020, I was presented with my own ‘Hello’ T-shirt. Based on the slogan ‘if you don’t say hello you will never know’, Tony Staunton initiated this idea as he wanted to build a ‘community atmosphere’ amongst the local people who were walking along the South Curl Curl promenade, by inviting everyone to say ‘Hello’ to each other. In the last 5 years, Tony has only given out T-shirts to those people in his opinion ‘who do good and contribute to our community so that we are all happier, healthier and stay connected’.