Today I had a Skype call with a few of the participants in the study group of the Science of Happiness course through Edx.
This was my second Skype conference study group call.
And both times I have come away from these with a profound sense of appreciation.
On this course, there are over 10,000 members on this group, from all over the world. I have spoken to people from Brazil, Costa Rica, Jerusalem, the USA and strangely enough someone from my very own home town in a 'face-to-face' Skype call.
And each time it blows me away. Ages range from a 21 year old participant to well over 60 (although the statistics of the course show attendants much older) and although the content of the course is about 'becoming happy' and therefore might seem a little self indulgent - what I find is amazing is that these people are here to learn. They are all presenting themselves with open hearts and minds to do things differently. To find out and more importantly to reach out to others. To share ideas to participate in a global community.
There are posts after posts on the 'wall' of learnings and or sharings, of amazing insights - of people doing incredible things.
This weeks emphasis has been on kindness, compassion and empathy. And like many people, there are a few student that find this subject a little 'waffly', and who are skeptical about the whole science behind it. But the science is showing that those who contribute to the world, who practice the above things - are the ones who actually also benefit the very most of living such a life.
One of the participants stated he found it so hard to believe in these concepts - when all around him, all he sees is the brutality of humans, the horror of what we see and hear everyday. But do you know what - kindness, compassion and empathy do not (generally) make headlines in the world. These are not the things that people turn on the TV to see (although they should be). For every horror out there, there are 100's or 1000's of people doing good.
And it doesn't matter on the size of the 'gift'. Whether is a smile. Letting someone go in front of you in a queue, helping someone who dropped something, paying someone a compliment or donating $1000 dollars - people are striving to do better all the time. And I find this incredible and incredibly humbling.
In fact, when I pause and think about all the kindness shown to me on a daily basis, it's actually overwhelming. A text to see how I am, a meal paid for, someone listen to me lament about an ongoing issue, a small gift, a smile, a compliment, an offer of something to help my business - it is actually quite simply, beautiful.
These are the things that make a community grow. These are the humble signs that people are indeed trying to do their best, to be kind, to give more, to do more.
From my place of utter burn out - some call something that nurses suffer from as being 'compassion fatigue' - to be able to rise again and start to feel connected again - to ordinary people living ordinary lives and yet in extraordinary ways.
We are doing OK, I think. For all it's disasters as a human race, we must never give up hope, we must never think that what we contribute is nothing. You never know what small and simple deed will light up someone else's day - and the ripple effect this might produce to 100's of people down the line.
It's been an amazing journey :-)