Life’s always so hectic. I’ve been too busy to blog.
It was on my schedule but somehow between work and the hamsters and emails and a million other things, it struggled to reach the top of my To Do List.
Well, recently I’ve been forced into having more time to sit and ponder. So I’m back to blogging, and I hope you’ll forgive the more philosophical first post!
As animal lovers, we are very aware of kindness towards the small furry ones. Have you heard about the study of rabbits in the 1970s? They unexpectedly found some rabbits in the study did better. The difference? Those rabbits were looked after by one kind researcher. Being kind to animals is good for them! And the effect isn’t limited to rabbits, being kind to people is good for them – and it’s good for the person being kind too in so many ways.
I’ve noticed, however, that there can be a lot of unkindness in online interactions about hamsters. By unkindness, I’m talking about a lack of understanding of others views or situations in life. Sometimes the distance of the virtual world encourages us to value others’ concerns less.
I’m sure you’ve come across people telling other hamster owners what wheel they must have – when all the person has done is post a photo of their cute hamster.
Please THINK before posting:
Is it TRUE, HELPFUL, INVITED, NECESSARY and KIND?
Some versions of this acronym use inspiring or important for the ‘i’. I feel that invited is important. If someone hasn’t asked for advice, then think carefully before offering it. Perhaps ask if they would like some advice before piling in and lecturing them.
“But they are wrong and they need to know it!”
It is well documented that telling people that their beliefs are wrong doesn’t cause them to change.
Providing someone with information that shows they are wrong might temporarily weaken their belief. But, in the long run, most people rebound back. It often makes that belief deeper; they are more entrenched in their position.
This is especially so when those beliefs are important to them. For example, that whatever thing they are doing makes them a ‘good’ hamster owner, but you are telling them that they are ‘cruel’.
Psychologists call this the backfire effect. The Oatmeal comic has a nice description of this (warning: bad language but funny) here.
So how can you help people change?
So if telling people they are wrong isn’t the way to help them change, what is?
This TED talk animation suggests having a discussion. Find out about the person; find out about their beliefs, which sources they trust and their values.
Having a shared understanding is important in changing behaviour. But we all fall into the trap of thinking using our own beliefs, sources and values. These may be very different to those of the person we are speaking to!
Take Home Message
So, the one thing I want every hamster owner to think about is kindness.
Be kind to your hamsters. Be kind to yourselves. Be kind to each other.
Now, more than ever, kindness is essential.
And remember too that when people are fearful or anxious or unsure they can react by lashing out. It’s hard, but try to show kindness to these people too. Retaliating will do no good for them, and will tarnish your own wellbeing.
There's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.
I have been working hard on holding onto this in my social media interactions while I’ve been ill.
It was hard not to have a rant at a negative comment on something I’d posted a long while ago – a comment made 24 hours after I’d been discharged from hospital and was using social media as a distraction.
I stepped away. I took a moment or several. I then replied with, I hope, kindness. The person commenting is feeling scared too, and we all need to stick together (at a safe distance). They were kind in their reply back to me. I hope their day was a little better. I know my day was better for not getting worked up over a little comment (which I deleted before publishing this post, so no need to go looking for it!)
Stay Safe xxx