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Harvard’s Kindness Pledge Motivates Australia’s Kindness Queen

June 25, 2019 Responsible Tourism No Comments Email Email

A year and a half ago, Naomi Lambert had what she called a “moment of madness” at 3am and decided to challenge the people of this world to undertake an act of kindness in the leadup to Christmas. How? She designed and hid 50 kindness cards and received a whopping 32 back – that’s a 64% strike rate which she admits “feels pretty damn good and some of the things people did was mind-blowing”. The Cool to Be Kind Project was founded. “I’ve worked hard to establish myself not just in my local community but nationwide and globally, too” Naomi said, “Our kindness cards are officially available for purchase with proceeds going towards MND Australia, I’ve worked closely with Dr Anne Aly (first Muslim woman elected to Parliament and a friend), we have the positive postcard initiative, pipelined ideas for the future (an app, podcast, an education program for schools and corporate businesses) and I’ve written a children’s book, too”. And 20 months on, Naomi’s small moment of madness has recently gone global. She has received her first response from a man in Philadelphia who found one of her kindness cards. “I am so excited by this and am so blessed”, she beams. “It’s not easy to put yourself out there and I frequently battle with what I write, the memories I share, talking about my past and I fear the unknown”. “But each time I think about this, I come back to the same conclusion. If I truly want to continue down this path, I must be all in or not at all. This is me and my past has shaped who I am today”. Naomi asks me if I was aware that Harvard have instigated a kindness pledge which reads: AS we begin at Harvard, we commit to upholding the values of the college and to make the entryway and yard a place where all can thrive and where the exercise of kindness holds a place on par with intellectual achievement”. No, I did not, I respond. “I find that really interesting and it’s a huge motivator. If Harvard are openly urging their staff and students to be kind, I must be onto something!” Naomi adds. “I look back at the emails I have received, the reach outs for help, the flood of people purchasing kindness cards and the acts that have been done to better the lives of others and I quickly realise that I’m not doing this for me, I’m doing it for all of us”. One specific letter Naomi received was from a lady clearly struggling with life at 31. “What if my life doesn’t get any better”, the writer said. Naomi’s response. “What if it does?” It seems the perfect time to ask Naomi for advice on how she tackles such emails. Between being sexually assaulted, an eating disorder, paralysed and on life support after being bitten by a spider, trauma of infertility, a full hysterectomy, early onset menopause and losing people she loves, I figure she is a pretty good person to take advice from. “Wherever you are right now is not where your life will stay. I am living proof that you don’t hit rock bottom once, but it can be many times. You can, and you will, get back up and recover. The road is long, the road is hard but it’s your road and you can decide which path to take. I remember endless conversations with Mum, being so distressed about not having a boyfriend, buying a house, being engaged or thinking about children”. Naomi pauses. Naomi describes words from her Mum admitting that in hindsight, they were of good intention; “It’s not a race, just focus on getting better and what happens then will be worth the wait. “At the time,” Naomi adds, “these words pissed me off so much that one day in rehab I found the strength to throw my walking frame at Mum. As Dad says, I throw like a girl, but it was the moment I think we both knew that I was nearly ready to come home”. “Depression has a habit of making you think that you’re never getting out of its clutches, because it’s messing up the way your brain processes certain signals. This can then influence the way you perform (in work, school, or socially). It’s easy to start feeling bad. You produce less ‘happy hormones’ (serotonin, endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin). A deficit of these hormones makes the recovery towards how you want to live your life very hard. You will feel as though you are unable to remove yourself from what feels like an endless, downward spiral”. “Commonly, one’s natural state becomes the one of unease and despair – it’s what you’ve known for so long, and we stay in places we find familiar. Another reason you may wish to stay where you are might be the fear of relapsing after getting better; falling back into a dark hole once you’re in the sun is scary and frustrating, so wouldn’t it be better to avoid the disappointment? Similarly, you may believe that you’ll never be happy, no matter what you do, so why even attempt to get better? Through it all you must try to remember that letting go of your sadness will allow happiness to emerge – if you let it”. Naomi consciously reminds herself of the people in her life who love and support her unconditionally. “I have also discovered the positive effects of colour coordinating Smarties. This is OCD in its prettiest and most colourful form, but it really does allow me to escape and concentrate on something else. The fact that there is chocolate involved is a bonus”, she smiles. Naomi also knows that however hard; she wants people to try to hold onto the belief that one day, you will feel stronger. “In the meantime, I urge people to add a little kindness to their day. It may be just what they need to steer their life in a new direction”.

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