Kindness can be a risky business because it is based on empathy; the ability to identify with the adversities and pleasures of others makes us vulnerable.

To truly put yourself in someone else’s place – so you fully understand and feel their position – you must also lower your defences. Kindness seems to be an innate human characteristic, but it has become unfashionable in our increasingly individualistic world; suggest a kind gesture and voices will often be raised against you.

The antidote to this is simple, and it has the advantage that acts of kindness can be private, anonymous too if you prefer, and they bestow on us “a pleasure that is fundamental to our wellbeing.”*

* Phillips, A., Taylor, B., (2009), On Kindness, Hamish Hamilton, London.