Could there be a more perfect time for a book on everyday kindness? Author and holistic wellbeing expert Stephanie Dowrick has long been tapped into Australia’s emotional zeitgeist, plucking needful gems from society’s ills and polishing them into beautiful books that lay open the requirements at hand.
Whether it be learning about intimacy in a world gone high tech social, opening our hearts to forgiveness in a generation focused on blame, or choosing happiness in a society fraught with pessimism, Dowrick has her finger on the emotional and spiritual pulse of people – and has that certain knack for laying things bare, saying it like it is, and offering us intelligent, effective ways to take control of our world.
In Everyday Kindness, Dowrick takes her typically warm yet intellectual approach, offering short cuts to busy readers for a happier and more confident life. Dowrick believes that from the moment we are born, our wellbeing is dependent on the kindness of others. And as we grow and develop, build confidence and self-reliance, that same kindness is something we can thrive on, lifelong.
In a word of relentless demand, over-busyness, exhaustion and stress, the smallest acts and little thoughts of kindness are those we are so readily losing. Few have the time to be thoughtful or generous any more – to others and neither to ourselves – yet aren’t the smallest, sweetest things in life exactly what we need the most? A snail mail card from a friend. Homegrown veggies on the doorstep. A phone call. A door held open? Self-effacement? Are they not the stuff of true living?
Dowrick knows this. In Everyday Kindness, she presents thoughts and inspiration for more mindful living in concise snippet chapters, with such headings as Family First?, Childhood Shadows, Profound Appreciation, Open Minds, Fewer things – and one of my faves – Surviving the Global Stress Crisis.
The book is further divided into sections that feature like-minded ‘posts’ (am I not a creature of my high tech generation?) – or entries – on Kindness, Personal Power, Self-Confidence, Relationships, Identity, Children and their Parents, Mood and Work. Readers can skip to a section that interests them, take a lucky dip, or start from the beginning and benefit from each and every enlightening entry.
What I love most about this book is that it covers a gamut of topics that would suit anyone from school leavers to young mothers to people on the brink of their twilight years. The advice is unpatronising, gentle yet powerful and quickly resonates because – frankly – Dowrick has got it right. She knows people. She knows how we operate and she knows what we all need to hear. She’s also more than ready to shake up the crusty, staid beliefs of her readers, and freshen up preconceived notions.
For example, in the entry entitled The Greatest Power, all ideas of the perceived meaning of power (ie: control over others) are washed away by this simple statement:
“The greatest power we have is to lift the spirits of other people through our choices and behaviour – to enhance their lives, and our own.”
A book that deserves pride of place on the bedside table of every person keen to live a content and happy life, Everyday Kindness is an eye-opening and powerful reminder of what it means to be human.