Kind of good time to be nice

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One trait which doesn’t seem to prove overly popular or trendy with the masses is kindness.

Although the vast majority of us don’t doubt it is a virtue, being kind isn’t cool, very rarely funny and is not a good look for tough guys.

Nice worked in the era of our grandparents, when a trilby wearing gent, who always held the door open was never short of female attention. All that changed when the likes of James Dean and Marlon Brando snarled their way on to the silver screen.

Nice became boring and was reserved for nerdy sidekicks and big hearted comedy characters. Hollywood and, subsequently society in general, consigned the nice guy to a supporting role.

So it is more than slightly ironic that American academics are working on a theory that overdoing kindness can extend one’s life expectancy. The theory goes that positive sentiments have a welcome effect on everybody involved in that particular transaction, especially when it comes to alleviating stress.

But, despite this growing body of evidence we are yet to all be convinced that a smile and a compliment always trumps a frown and a snide quip. It was World Kindness Day last week - a day we should all be getting behind yet, were you to mention it to colleagues and pals and it was likely that you were met with a suspicious look and a retort along the lines of ‘well, you are not giving me a ruddy hug’.

We inhabit the age of mean, where the most acerbic comments on social media are rewarded with a tsunami of likes and shares while displays of positivity can be dismissed as virtue signalling.

You can blame political leaders in this country and across the world for stoking this insidious fire with their flammable language but that would be to overlook the fact that most of us have been blessed with the independence of thought. It is our choice to snap at a stranger behind a till or aggressive to the equally stressed person in the car in front.

Life is undoubtedly hard at times but it can be made a lot easier if we smile a bit more. Maybe if we all did it, kind would be cool again.