When I was 28 I met my guardian angel! ...well, at the very least he was an incredibly kind man...
My acting career (which of course had been non-stop) was dwindling, I was about to become homeless and my love life was well, pretty similar to my acting career - non-existent. I faced the prospect of moving out of London and back to my parents in South Wales and whilst I love the ‘land of my father’s’ the possibility of losing my independence and turning my back on everything I had accomplished led me to become very down.
I was in ‘Pret a Manger’ in Leicester Square waiting to meet up with friends when it all hit me, and I put my head in my hands, trying hard not to cry. (I appreciate this isn’t the ‘funny’ stuff you’d expect from a Laughology blog but just setting the scene.) The gentleman (for that’s indeed what he was) sitting to my left touched my shoulder and asked why I was so upset. I described my predicament to him explaining that I was unsure what to do next. All he said to me was whichever path I chose would be the right one and to trust myself.
Whilst this advice wasn’t anything new, at that point in time, and coming from a complete stranger, it resonated with me. Particularly in the middle of London where talking to strangers is avoided at all costs (it’s totally different in Wales).
My reason for telling this story is not purely for catharsis but also to demonstrate how powerful kindness can be. Kindness releases both oxytocin (also known as the ‘cuddle’ hormone) and the chemical serotonin, much like happiness and laughter do. There are many benefits to these amazing little neurotransmitters including boosting self-esteem, heart health*, improved blood pressure and greater social connection. **
It doesn’t stop there though. The benefits of kindness aren’t just felt by the person receiving it but the person giving it too; kindness can increase our brain’s levels of dopamine which means we feel really good afterwards... and the best thing about it is... it’s contagious! Just by viewing someone else’s act of kindness we can feel happier. *** The words of the Dalai Lama say it all!
‘If you want others to be happy, practise compassion. If you want to be happy, practise compassion.’
Whilst it is a given that chocolate, wine and cake make us happier there is that slightly unfortunate bit of inconvenient health science which says that, in excess, they are both highly addictive and unhealthy! Therefore, kindness is the perfect alternative! It’s good for us, good for others, makes us happy and is equally as addictive, what’s not to love?!?
So, if you see (or know of) someone who is struggling, be kind. You never know, like my guardian angel, you might be the catalyst they need to turn a corner.
Laura began her professional career as a performer and trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. Her passion lay in theatre; particularly Shakespeare, comedy and farce. She always felt she had great comic... wait for it... timing!...