How can something so simple be so hard?
As Ellen says, “be kind to one another”.
It doesn’t cost a thing to be kind to others.
“Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past. From the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts; and recycling it for more than it’s worth.” – Baz Luhrman, Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen).
It’s been said that opinions are like arseholes – everybody’s got one. Unsolicited opinions, then, are by far the worst kind.
Many a family relationship is strained by one person giving constant unwanted and unsolicited advice to another; sure, the person might mean well, but there’s nothing like feeling undermined and disrespected in your own home. In addition, it’s all too common for complete strangers to dispense unnecessary and unwelcome parenting advice in public, as though you needed it.
Common scenario one: You’re a busy working mum grappling with two toddlers – one of whom, gasp, has a dummy in her mouth – at a shopping centre. Call the child protection agency! Said two-year-old rarely has her dummy, but on this particular day, she’s woken up on the wrong side of the bed, and you don’t have the heart for a long battle to separate her from her beloved pacifier.
Unsolicited advice crime against humanity: A middle-aged woman, whom you catch sight of staring at you and your children disapprovingly, while you’re both in the supermarket fruit and veg section, freely and loudly scolds you about your parenting failures. “She’s a bit old to have a dummy, isn’t she? Careful – she might still want it when she’s 21!” says she, with a superior air. “Have you tried giving her lollies to suck on or apple juice…”
Common scenario two: You and your husband are discussing an important issue in the kitchen, when your mother-in-law enters the room.
Unsolicited advice crime against humanity: Your MIL has heard approximately three seconds of the conversation, but feels qualified to offer her very unwanted advice on the issue, without knowing any of the background on it. She’s staying with you in your house and feels it necessary to offer constant, annoying and unwanted advice on everything from how you cook, clean, parent your children and even make the damned bed.
How about shut the f*** up?! Look, I get that people want to help – indeed they like to think they’re doing so. But unless you specifically ask for their advice, I think it’s far kinder for people to just keep their mouths shut. And unless you’ve got something nice to say, zip it. Please – for the sake of humanity! No one wants your unsolicited opinions.
I try my best to live by the same credo – a far nicer thing to do, I find, is ask loved ones how they are. And if you’re the dreaded unwanted advice giver in your family, try giving yourself a gentle uppercut every time you find yourself about to start a sentence with “You should…”
What’s more, if you’re a stranger at the supermarket about to dispense some highly unwanted and unsolicited advice to me, look out; for so tired and worn-out am I by my toddlers, I may attempt to run you over with my double pram. I don’t want or need your advice, so please get out of my way. You’ve been warned unsolicited advice givers!
What do you think? How do you combat unsolicited opinions?
Images via someecards.com, kikiandtea.com, popsugar.com
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – American author/humorist, Mark Twain.
Need an instant pick-me-up? It’s easy; try committing a random act of kindness. Why? Psychological research shows that being kind to others boosts our health and happiness; kindness breeds kindness; and – even better – witnessing altruistic acts can lead us to feel elation, peace and gratitude.
So why don’t we practice these little acts of kindness more often – especially when we know being kind to others, ourselves and animals, for example, is both reciprocal and good for us? Is it because we’re all so damn busy with the humdrum of life, we become bogged down by work/family/social commitments, so that we forget to be nice?
I was amazed by how happy I felt recently after a random act of kindness I committed quickly lead to another. It was nothing major on my part, I just simply gave a stranger 50 cents when he fell short at the petrol station. It was practicality on my behalf, also: I was waiting in line behind the man to pay for my petrol and the line of people behind me was getting bigger by the minute.
So, while the man fumbled in his pockets, scrounging for change, I simply offered him up the change he needed. A look of shocked surprise crossed his face, he mumbled his thanks before going on his way, and all was well. And, here comes the good part for me – the petrol service station attendant was so impressed, he gave me a nice, little discount on my fuel.
It was a win-win for everyone and – call me a simple lass – but it made me feel really, really good. I had a warm, happy glow afterwards – certainly something akin to elation, as the psychological studies suggest.
A Brisbane clinical psychologist, who wishes to remain anonymous, says it’s well known in social psychology that doing something kind for someone else is a good antidote for depression. What’s more, people suffering from depression are often asked by psychologists to find a way to help someone. And if they do so, it can be an effective means of alleviating their depressed mood.
But you don’t need to be suffering from depression to benefit from performing a random act of kindness; everyone benefits, she says. “Doing something positive for someone else, even something as simple as a warm and caring remark or small act of kindness, can lead to a feeling of well-being in both the helper and the recipient, even a sense of elation,” says the psychologist.
“The person offering the help or kind words will benefit with a boost to their self-esteem and the recipient is likely to feel a sense of gratitude.
“Feeling grateful or appreciative for one’s blessings is good for our emotional well-being. To encourage a sense of gratitude, positive psychology uses the gratitude letter or visit, in which a person is encouraged to visit or write to someone who has helped them in the past and tell them how much their words or deeds helped the recipient. This of course is beneficial for both parties, but especially for the one feeling grateful.”
So, why not try doing something unexpectedly kind for someone else today? And it doesn’t even have to just be limited to a loved one – feel the power of being nice to strangers and tell me it doesn’t feel really, really good!
What do you think? Have you committed a random act of kindness lately?
Images via Random Acts of Kindness, Michelle Cederberg, Bright Drops, whysimpleisbetter.wordpress.com
Nothing is more true to the spirit of Christmas than giving an item that gives back to those in need. While you can opt to donate to charity in someone’s name, if you would prefer to give the special people in your life something tangible, use our guide to find socially conscious gifts from brands that give back the world.
Founders Kirsten and Sophia work to help women in Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Kenya to help generate employment, relieve poverty and help combat issues like HIV, trafficking, poor education and genital mutilation in these regions. They also give back to their own community, by employing refugee women in their hometown of Austin, Texas.
Seven Hopes United sells stylish, handmade, fair trade and eco-friendly gifts from around the world. Each product – from homewares to handbags – is sourced by the company to ensure that the artisan responsible is paid a fair wage, and their working conditions are safe and ethical.
FashionABLE sells chic scarves, jewelry and blankets to help support sustainable business ventures in Africa. The business began when the founders traveled to Ethiopia and saw first-hand the extreme poverty forcing many young, local girls into an unsafe living in the sex trade. They realized the best way to assist the women was to help them gain other sustainable employment options – so they now employ them to craft their FashionABLE wares.
What started as three teenage boys crocheting their own knitwear, has grown into an international not-for-profit, helping communities in Uganda and Peru. The venture started rolling when the young men visited Uganda and found displaced locals unsatisfied living in government-run refugee camps. In order to give them their own income and a sustainable career, the Krochet Kids taught a handful of locals to crochet and help them market their products to international consumers.