‘My life was changed by a stranger’s kindness’

Monique Treder knows what it feels like to be touched by kindness.

In 2012, Monique was struggling with a new hometown, post-natal depression and loneliness, when her life was irrevocably changed by the kindness of a stranger.

“We had moved to Wellington, in New Zealand, from Sydney for my husband’s work and I had my first child and then my second child just 13 months later,” she told MedAdvisor.

“My husband’ family was there, but I didn’t have my circle of girlfriends around me. My husband was working really hard to keep the family going, and I missed my friends.

“It was a really bad time for me and there was just no one I could have a wine with, there was no shoulder to cry on, and that was what I needed.”

Then someone she had met briefly through playgroup did something remarkable.

“She turned up at my door with a spinach and ricotta cannelloni that she had baked,” Monique recalls.

“I was beside myself and ended up crying. She had two of her own children, was pregnant with a third, and I was so touched that she did something like his.

“She could obviously see that I was struggling.”

It was an experience that impacted her greatly, and Monique started wondering if she could do that for other people

A few years later she launched her Happetite business that delivers her homemade cooking straight to people’s doors. Instead of sending flowers, you can send a comfort meal to someone struggling with grief, a new baby or “just because”.

“When you’re stressed, the first thing that disappears is the home-cooked meal — you don’t have time to shop and cook from scratch — and yet that is exactly what you need,” she says.

Today, Wednesday, marks World Kindness Day, which asks us all to take a step back and consider ways we could be kinder to each other — whether it is turning up at someone’s door with a casserole or simply not getting angry at others in traffic.

It’s good for society and it makes individuals feel good too, with research showing that kindness is inextricably bound up with personal happiness.

A recent study by Oxford University discovered that observing or carrying out one kind act per day, for seven days, boosted happiness.

Interestingly, the study also found out that the more acts of kindness observed or committed, the happier people became.

Monique agrees and adds that her business brings her happiness simply by knowing she is helping to spread kindness.

“Sometimes when I am bogged down in admin I will go out and deliver the packages personally to remind me of why I am doing this.

“It’s very heartfelt, it’s very honest.”

Monique is not the only businesswomen to have tapped our essential need for human kindness.

Naomi Lambert started the global Cool to be Kind Project after having a hysterectomy at 32 that ended her chances of having children.

In a bid to lift her spirits and forge a more positive approach to life, Naomi took action and planted a series of cards urging random acts of kindness.

She received numerous emails in response from people telling her how the cards moved them to perform acts of kindness for strangers, and since then a global movement of “hidden cards” has been born.

“The movement gave me the chance to regroup and give back in ways I never thought possible, opening up kindness as another avenue to ‘self-care’ that is more valuable than going to get your nails done,” she says.

“I have seen first hand that values, previously considered ‘out-of-scope’, such as kindness, just might form part of the solution to some of our most intractable social problems.”

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This story was written by Johanna Leggatt. Johanna is an Australian journalist with more than 15 years’ experience in both print and online. She has worked across a wide range of subject areas, including health, property, finance, interiors, and arts.

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