Day One: The Kindness Challenge

Recently I came across an interesting link on Facebook. It was for a new, to me anyway, organisation Subsequently, I signed up to be a member of the KindLab, the research component, which is a partnership between the organisation and researchers, psychologists and scientists. Its purpose is to build a deeper understanding of what kindness means to people across the globe.

As part of the KindLab, I joined one of their kindness studies, along with 1200 others, around the world. The instructions were simple, and we were instructed to follow it as closely as possible:


Each day you must carry out AT LEAST ONE of the acts listed below.

Choose an act that you are capable of carrying out on that day.

Try a different act each day for variety.

We’ll send you a reminder email each morning.

Each afternoon we’ll email you a few questions to answer before the day ends.

After one week, the study will finish and we will report back to you with our results.

The tasks are simple, but according to the email, the study has been carefully designed to shed new light on the effects of kindness, something I think we all need more of. In choosing the acts you complete, they suggest that one chooses acts that one would not normally do in the course of an average day or week. So it was more challenging than anticipated on the first day. You can do as many as you like, or have time for, and many of the tasks are interesting. The acts they prescribed, and my choices for day one –  with links should you be interested in any of them:

Read a poem

I chose to read, Maya Angelou’s “I know why the caged bird sings,” an amazing poem that deals with issues still relevant today; racism, sexism, insecurity, poverty and abuse.

I know why the caged bird sings – Poem by Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps on the back
Of the wind and floats downstream
Till the current ends and dips his wing
In the orange suns rays
And dares to claim the sky.

But a BIRD that stalks down his narrow cage
Can seldom see through his bars of rage
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
Of things unknown but longed for still
And his tune is heard on the distant hill for
The caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
And the trade winds soft through
The sighing trees
And the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright
Lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged BIRD stands on the grave of dreams
His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
His wings are clipped and his feet are tied
So he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with
A fearful trill of things unknown
But longed for still and his
Tune is heard on the distant hill
For the caged bird sings of freedom.

Watch an online lecture/talk

On Ted Talks, one of the new and most popular videos is Brittney Cooper’s “The racial politics of time,” it is an interesting analysis and is relevant to the current issues in Woodstock, Cape Town. A concept that she highlighted, that I found interesting, is how people can exist in space – as in they take up space – but are excluded from time as defined by “progress.”

Meditate (minimum 10 minutes)

I meditated for 12 minutes using the Buddhist Meditation Trainer (Developed by Spacebug) while listening to Moby’s meditation music freely downloadable from Conscious Life News. For today’s meditation I listened to LA1 or Long Ambients 1: Calm. Sleep.

Play a song you love and dance to it

Today I played a Moby song, I was influenced by the article mentioned above, a song that always makes me think of my family especially my sister, Find My Baby.

Take a bath in the morning

Normally I am a night-time bather, but this was surprisingly nice on a gloomy, cold, rainy day in Jozi. As is my normal custom, I put a drop of essential oil, today was Rose Oil. In Ayurveda, Rose oil is one of the favourites, used for numerous preventative reasons (antidepressant, antiviral, aphrodisiac etc.).

The Ayurvedic traditions believe that the Rose and Rose oils have “adoring qualities” that balance Sadhaka pitta, which controls feelings and its effects on the heart, and Prana vata, governor of the mind, sensory perception as well as the head/chest/respiratory system.

It also makes baths that much better, while being better for your overall bodily health (especially women) compared to synthetic bath additives while still making you smell nice.

Watch something you normally wouldn’t

I have a list of sometimes obscure, sometimes beautiful, sometimes strange, sometimes awful but always rewarding movies (and books) that I am working my way through and today I go to watch, Sita Sings the Blues.

A version of an epic Indian tale about Ramayana set to Annette Hanshaw’s 1920’s jazz vocals. It is beautiful and enchanting. An animation by Nina Paley, it is whimsically brilliant with a versatility of animation that brings the entire story to life.

It is worth a watch, even Roger Ebert agrees, he gave the movie a 4/4. It is an adult animation, so maybe not an animation for family viewing.

Listen to a different radio station/music

Not sure if this counts…it might be cheating because I have been meaning to listen to it for a while…I knew some of his music but had not listened to the whole mixtape…but listened to Colouring Book, in entirety, by the Chance the Rapper, for the first time.

My favourite song, although all of them are great, is Blessings, this quote “I don’t make songs for free, I make ’em for freedom/Don’t believe in kings, believe in the Kingdom” is by far one of the best lines. Read Pitchfork‘s article!

Read a different paper/news website

I read articles from CNN, and while it is still not a news provider I enjoy, there were several interesting articles, an article showing the effects of current leadership globally and a bittersweet article about the effects of the current, American, leadership on communities.

Other Suggestions:

I was unable to take part in these suggestions today, however over the course of the week I will attempt them.

  • Put some money in your savings account/save for a rainy day
  • Take an afternoon nap
  • Write a letter asking for a free trial of something
  • Plant a tree or a flower or a plant
  • Pamper yourself (e.g. have a glass of champagne in the bath)
  • Clean/clear an area of your home for 30 minutes
  • Go for a walk
  • Bake something from scratch
  • Take yourself to the movies
  • Eat a different lunch
  • Take a different route to work
  • Wear something different, e.g. tie/no tie
  • Other suggestion (your own novel act)


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