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Kindness and Acceptance Teen and Parent Wellbeing

Smile

By: Divya Venkataraman

There’s a common phrase that says, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” And for the Taarika Foundation, kindness — in any form through any medium — matters.

This year, Random Acts of Kindness Week is from February 13, 2022, to February 19, 2022, according to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation — a week to reflect on the positive impact of kindness. 

With the period of uncertainty — the Pandemic — we have been and still are facing, it seems appropriate to take any chance we can get to make someone else smile; we do not know what others may be facing in a time like this, and we can only hope that our presence brings a positive aura anywhere we go. 

How can we do this? 

You guessed it: random acts of kindness! Random acts of kindness provide a way to release positivity into any environment. They bring the community together regardless of background — lifting people’s spirits while making you feel good in the process of helping others.

Illustration by Divya Venkataraman

What’s more, according to UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine, researchers have found that witnessing kindness also inspires people to be kind, a phenomenon referred to as “moral elevation.” Ultimately, random acts of kindness act as a medium for people to offer kindness to others regardless of socioeconomic status, disability, race and more.

Why Random Acts of Kindness?

Kindness is shown frequently in the world we live in — a reality easily overlooked by many. Large or small, these acts of kindness are common, even if we may not always be aware of them nor their positive effects in the community; and while kindness is often covered by the shadows — going missed by many — its beneficiaries are tenfold. 

We all should strive to make kindness more noticeable in society; kindness has the power to make a difference — random acts of kindness shown to strangers and friends alike have the influence to bring more smiles to more peoples’ faces.

Why do Random Acts of Kindness Work?

Random acts of kindness have been proven time and time again to make both the recipient and giver of kindness feel an elevated sense of contentment. According to UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine, it has the power to not only make one think more highly of themselves but also become “more aware of positive social interactions.” 

According to a research paper published in Oxford Handbooks Online by Kennon M. Sheldon, Julia Boehm and Sonja Lyubomirsky, variation in kindness is the key to happiness. To avoid the feeling of redundancy with kindness, an approach that includes various ways to express kindness to different people can help with enacting positive change in the community. Random Acts of Kindness are one of these methods we can use to help make a change in whatever environment that surrounds us. 

Moreover, according to a study conducted by Sheldon et al. published in the Review of General Psychology, a significant increase in happiness was measured in participants who performed five random acts of kindness for six weeks consecutively. Random acts of kindness have the ability to bring change to anyone and everyone’s lives regardless of past history. 

How to do Random Acts of Kindness?

It’s time to look outside the box and express your kindness. Kindness matters — it can be as small as a smile and holding the door open for someone or as large as protests, delivering food and raising awareness for mental health.

Illustration by Divya Venkataraman

Random acts of kindness are a venue to show your kindness. Regardless of whether we know the recipient or not, the kindness expressed at random intervals — with no forthcoming — allows for a way to bridge the community together and ultimately make multiple people feel good.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation even offers a list of diverse Kindness Ideas to refer to. I hope everyone takes the time to look at the list and express kindness in their communities!

Looking Ahead

Aesop once said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” I like to think kindness has a ripple effect: your kindness doesn’t just make you feel good, your kindness spreads to others as well. Then their kindness spreads, and so on until we get a communal kindness movement. 

Ultimately, kindness is a universal value that will unite people — it is an avenue upon which everyone can agree on. So, whether it be a simple random act of kindness in a community or anything else, we should all start enacting kindness in our communities, looking beyond differences and instead recognizing the underlying humanity in each and every one of us. I’d recommend starting by showing a random act of kindness to someone near you right here and right now; whether you know them or not, kindness can make anyone smile.

Categories
Kindness and Acceptance Teen and Parent Wellbeing

No-Name Calling Week

By Anika Nambisan and Krupa Shanware

A scaly snake slithers slowly around my body, constricting me. With each breath I take, I feel myself slowly, but surely, suffocating. The pallid brown walls of the bathroom stall begin to blur, and the dirty white tiles and stray pieces of toilet paper left on the floor seem to merge. I can’t breathe. I can barely see. The tears that fall from my eyes seem to have no end, as they caress my face in its sticky warmth, leaving trails of wet mascara running down my face. I don’t want to step out of these confines of the tan bathroom stall. Although miserable and pungent, this seems to be the safest option for now; however, I cannot stay here for long – I have to get back to my class. 

Bullying – the systematic abuse of power that often happens to many students right under their teacher’s noses. Unfortunately, I am no stranger to being bullied, and neither are the majority of students in America. 1 in every 5 teens in America have reported being bullied in a survey taken by StopBullying.gov, and as bullying continues to gain awareness from the general public, researchers have started to pay closer attention to it as well. An increasing number of studies have proven that there are serious psychological risks associated with being bullied including being put at a greater risk for panic disorder, anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety, depressive disorders, PTSD, and agoraphobia as adults.

One of the most common and overlooked forms of bullying, especially in schools, is name calling. Ranging from small insults to slurs, the impact of a build up of these aggressions is detrimental to a person’s well being. But how can you help and be more aware? One step you can take comes from GLSEN(Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network), an American education organization against discrimination and bullying based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. They started No-Name Calling week, a week during mid-January where students and educators reflect on name calling in schools and the hurtful impacts it causes. Though the week has passed and was from the 17th to the 21st, it is still applicable to our daily lives. How often have you heard common insults thrown around over and over at a person, stifling them and making them feel shame for simply existing?

Taking part in stopping the bullying and harassment done to youth is vital to both their mental and physical health, and is something that you can start working on by reflecting within yourself. By doing so, we can open up a discussion about damaging effects of bullying and help eliminate name-calling in our communities.

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Kindness and Acceptance

Mental Health Holidays (Nov. edition)

November marks the end of the fall season with orange-yellow crunchy leaves on the pavement, pumpkin spice, gray, rainy skies, colder weather, and holidays like Thanksgiving and Veterans Day. It is the precursor to winter, the end of the year, and the holiday season with key themes like gratitude and family being intertwined with the essence of the month. Similarly, mental health is also highlighted during November, with World Kindness Day, Anti-Bullying Week, and International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day being celebrated around the world. 

World Kindness Day (November 13, 2021)

Recognized as an NGO by the Swiss government in 2019, the World Kindness Movement’s efforts stretch back to the Tokyo Convention in 1997 where multiple countries pledged to encourage kindness in their society. At that time, the movement’s inception began with the declaration to “pledge to join together to build a kinder and more compassionate world” and helped start World Kindness Day. Although hoping to gain an official status from the United Nations, the day is internationally celebrated on November 13 by various countries such as the U.S., Australia, Japan, Canada, and more.

The purpose of this day is to spread kindness through small gestures and focus on the positive aspects of our community. It’s easy to see why, since kindness promotes numerous research-proven benefits such as lower blood pressure and increased feelings of unity with others. 

[Practicing k]indness promotes numerous research-proven benefits such as lower blood pressure and increased feelings of unity with others.

You can get involved with this occasion by performing at least three acts of kindness, giving hugs, taking time for self-care, volunteering at a park clean-up, helping a stranger with directions, and more!

Anti-Bullying Week (November 15 – 19, 2021)

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

The Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) has organized Anti-Bullying Week, which will be kicking off with Odd Socks Day where unique socks will be worn to celebrate our differences. This year’s theme is “One Kind Word.” Started in 2002, this annual UK event draws participation from 80% of the nation’s schools to combat bullying in classrooms. Statistics have shown that cyberbullying has affected 17% of youth and 30% have been bullied within the last year, leading children to experience serious effects such as obesity, mental health issues, unstable relationships, and more. 

ABA has drawn support from the UK’s parliament, news, and social media. New coverage about the week is estimated to have reached more than 156 million people, and social media hashtags (#AntiBullyingWeek) have been trending on Twitter during the event. Influencers like Victoria Beckham, Emma Willis, Gemma Style, and more have also promoted the cause on their platforms. 

You can participate this week by checking out ABA’s website and getting involved in their organization. You can sign their pledge, peruse through their resource guide, nominate a member of your school staff for an award, buy merchandise, get involved on their social media, and look at their previous impact. 

International Survivors of Suicide Day (November 20, 2021)

From the Greek and Roman Empires to Western society, suicide has been prevalent and often a taboo topic, with many governments condemning it through legislation in an effort to decrease the suicide rates. From 1950 to 1980, an increase in suicide rates for youth doubled and tripled in the U.S., affecting mainly young white males. Now the 10th leading cause of death, there are an estimated 1.3 million suicide attempts and 400,000+ suicide deaths annually.

Nearly 50% of the U.S. has known someone who has died by suicide, and, on average, every 11 minutes, one person dies by suicide. 

In 2019, groups mostly at risk were men (with a 3x rate compared to women), white people (15 deaths per 100,000 people), American Indians/Alaska Natives (13 deaths per 100,000 people), middle-aged adults (19 deaths per 100,000 people), and LGBT youth. Nearly 50% of the U.S. has known someone who has died by suicide, and, on average, every 11 minutes, one person dies by suicide. 

International Survivors of Suicide Day was passed as a resolution in 1999 by U.S. Senator Harry Reid who lost his father to suicide in 1972. Many people who commit suicide often have an underlying mental condition, highlighting the importance of starting taboo conversations. This day is important to remember the victims, connect the community, and pay attention to survivors/at-risk groups. 

You can observe International Survivors of Suicide Day by becoming a suicide prevention advocate, keeping a journal as a healthy coping mechanism, and attending a local grief support group. Check in with those close around you, and be mindful of your impact on people. 

Sources:

https://anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/anti-bullying-week
https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/