4 out of 4 stars
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You turn on the TV, change the channels, and see the news. Politicians insulted their people and each other, criminals murdered seniors, terrorists attacked a city, perverts sexually assaulted kids, and fires destroyed miles of a forest. The list goes on and on, and a lot of negativity entered your house through the TV. You wonder why nobody shares the good news, and you believe that the world needs much more kindness.
If you relate to the example above, then A Year of Living Kindly by Donna Cameron is perfect for you. Cameron wrote it because she believes that “kindness is a strength, a superpower that has the capacity to transform lives and change the world.” However, becoming a human being who is kind is hard. It takes patience, empathy, curiosity, effort, and determination. Cameron shares with the readers how a year practicing kindness intentionally transformed her life positively. But more than this being a book about her experiences being kind, it is a treatise on kindness. The reader learns the meaning and benefits of kindness, strategies to become a kind person, and the things that challenge kindness.
My favorite aspect of this self-help book was learning all about the benefits of kindness. Being kind has positive effects on our physical and mental health. An example is that acts of kindness boost the production of serotonin in the brain, which works as a neurotransmitter, and results in calming anxiety. Another significant example is that kind acts reduce anxiousness in people who suffer from social anxiety. Research also demonstrates that kindness is good for pain, negative perspectives, and even work. Cameron supports her findings with scientific research done by experts. The book has a notes section at the end in which the reader can find all of her sources.
I also appreciated that Cameron was candid about her journey to becoming a kind person. Her mother raised her to be nice, which she explains is not the same as being kind. So, kindness is not her default setting. Cameron worked for a whole year on being kind and is determined to keep it up. She invites us to do the same, but she warns us that it is not easy. Kindness requires the strength of character. For example, people have a hard time being kind to themselves. How can we be kind to others if we are not kind to ourselves? Also, it is quite tricky being kind to individuals we do not like and those who have harmed us. Cameron gives excellent strategies for both situations.
Honestly, I did not find a negative element in A Year of Living Kindly. A professional edited it, as I only encountered four grammatical errors. Cameron’s writing style is sincere and clear-cut. Without a doubt, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars because Cameron convinces the reader of how kindness can transform our lives and the world. I would recommend this book to readers of the self-help genre and those who are curious about how we can leave a better world for our children through the power of kindness.
A Year of Living Kindly
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