21 Feb

Be Kind

“In a world where we can be anything, be kind” is how the well-known quote goes. It is a quote that resonates in your mind and so it should.

And it is now recognized that making a kind choice is indeed just as good for the person making the kind decision as the person or animal that receives the kindness.

Scientifically proven benefits of being kind

It is said that just witnessing acts of kindness produces the hormone oxytocin which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving overall heart-health. And to prove the point just recall how you feel when you watch a clip of an injured animal being saved by a modern day Samaritan.

Sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center,  Christine Carter, quotes a study where about half of participants reported that they felt stronger and more energetic after helping others, with many feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth.

On top of that, it is said that kinder people actually live longer, healthier lives.

The ‘Helper’s high’

According a 2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries it was found that people who are altruistic—in this case study, people who were generous financially, such as with charitable donations—were happiest overall.

According to scientific research, when you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed! This phenomenon has a name – the “helper’s high.”

Shopping Kind

Of course not everyone can rescue a suffering animal or work in developing countries or give substantial amounts to charities, but we can all attempt to make simple everyday kind choices when it comes to shopping.  From home furnishings to food to clothing and accessories, the kind shopping choices we make can have a positive effect on the wellbeing of animals, people and environment (as well as ourselves!)

We are well aware of the environmental and ecological destruction at the hands of humans; we know certain cosmetics and household products are cruelly tested on animals and we know that the production of many goods involves sweat shop labour.  But can we change this by making kinder choices in our shopping habits?The answer is yes, we can!

Look at your hand bag or home furnishings and ask yourself what impact that product had. Can you make a kinder choice – perhaps to purchase a product that has not been tested on animals, or an eco friendly product?

It is acknowledged that purchasing only fairtrade products is nigh impossible but that is no reason not try and make considered choices.

And although we Australians love to buy new clothes, (and wallets and bags and homewares) once we tire of them, 85% of it ends up in landfill. Clothing made from polyester can take 200 years to break down.  How many people (mainly women) suffered long and torturous hours to produce these products in sweat shop conditions? It is time to consider purchasing second hand, better quality clothes or fairtrade where possible.

Change comes by way of small steps. Let’s continue to take those small kind steps.

12 Mar

Heading off to Soi Dog in Thailand

Why am I going?

A few issues arose at the end of 2016 with one being the end of my shop’s licence at Frankston Bazaar and with it came a sense of “wanting to get away and do something” that saw me searching on my phone late one night for a purpose.  I was looking at some of the worst case scenarios for animals. I am not sure why I put myself through this but in doing so I came across information about the dog meat trade in Asia.  Yes I know people eat animals here in Australia and I know there is no difference between the eating of a dog or a cow.  But the image of dogs all bundled together in sacks ready for slaughter at who knows where, stuck in my mind and I could not erase it.

Although I had previously known about this trade and felt helpless I knew I would not be brave enough to front the issue head on at the meat markets but what I did discover late that night was that a shelter in Thailand, called Soi Dog, takes many of these dogs who have been rescued from these horrendous markets with  many more come from brutal lives on the streets of Thailand.

Soi Dog means Street Dog and there are certainly plenty of street dogs in Thailand and this no-kill shelter cares for up to 400 animals (both cats and dogs) at any given time.

So I have decided to volunteer for a month starting on 18th March 2017. The job of volunteers, who come from all over the world, is socialise with the animals, encourage them to trust and receive human love and affection. Tasks include brushing and walking the dogs and in general preparing them for their adoptions (which  happen right around the world from Switzerland to the UK to the US but unfortunately not to Australia as our quarantine regulations are very strict).

Some might ask why help dogs in Asia when dogs are being put down or living horrible lives in puppy farms here in Australia.  For me Soi Dog is not just a shelter but works hard to lobby for end to the live dog meat trade. Sadly every year tens of thousands of dogs are inhumanely transported from Thailand to neighbouring countries where they are butchered by cruel and barbaric methods. However, the Soi Dog Foundation is actively working to end this appalling practice.  Soi Dog aims to set an example for the Asian region on how to humanely reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats through spaying and neutering .

So for me it is not just a matter of socialising with rescue dogs in Thailand but contributing to the work of raising awareness and encouraging change in the region.

And simply this is something I felt I could do.

Please check out the stories about Soi Dog at www.soidog.org

If you would like to know more about any of this please don’t hesitate to email me at any time at kindchoices@gmail.com

And when I return at the end of April 2017 hopefully I will have some Soi Dog merchandise and fairtrade handcrafts for you here at the Kind Choices on line shop!


12 March 2017

Rawai, pictured above, was chained up at a restaurant at Rawai beach. The photo on the right shows a month later on his way to recovery. (I have deliberately not shown the worst cases that Soi Dog see as I know even this is very distressing for many readers).