Kindness is Contagious – 15 Ways You Can Spread Some Around Today

At ILNI we are big fans of kindness; kindness to others, kindness to the planet and kindness to ourselves. The best thing about kindness is how contagious it is, how a single random act of kindness to one person can prompt them to go on and make someone else’s day special too. With the aim of encouraging widespread outbreaks of kindness here are 15 ideas to get you infected with the kindness bug and spread it around.

  1. Tell someone you love, that you love them. Put your feelings into words and tell them to their smiling face. We can never say the words ‘I love you’ too many times.
  1. Give a compliment to someone during your day. Compliment your barista on making a great coffee, compliment your hairdresser for their great service, whenever you have a chance to compliment someone on a great job, do it!
  1. Send someone a cheerful card to brighten his or her day. We all know how cool it is to get something in the post that is not a bill to pay. Write a couple of short lines and let them know you are thinking of them and hope they are having a great day.
  1. Give someone a hug. Grab one of your kids, your partner, your parents, your dog, or whomever you like to hug and hug them tight today.
  1. Take a cooked meal or a simple vegetable soup around to a friend who is sick. The tradition of taking food to the homes of those who are sick might seem a little old-fashioned in our modern times, but we can guarantee it will make the recipient and their family feel very loved in a difficult time.
  1. Call an elderly relative to say hi and to let them chat away happily for as long as they like. Sometimes we can forget how lonely life must get when you are on your own. Everyone likes to have someone to chat with, be that someone.
  1. Write a letter to someone you admire. Tell them how they have inspired you and thank them. Bonus points if you post the letter rather than an email it. Putting something on paper makes it all the more special to receive.
  1. Offer to drive an elderly neighbour to do their shopping. Help them carry their groceries inside and put them away too.
  1. Give up your seat on a train or bus. Look out for someone who looks like they need the seat more than you. Perhaps you could offer it to someone carrying a heavy shopping bag or a tired and hot tourist.
  1. Allow someone with fewer grocery items to cut in front of you in the line at the checkout.
  1. Spend a few minutes in your neighbourhood picking up rubbish from the sidewalk. Showing you care about your street may inspire others to do the same.
  1. Smile at everyone. A smile costs nothing and is often rewarded with a great smile in return. Don’t be upset if some people don’t smile back, they may be lost in their own thoughts, smile anyway.

  1. Make a really cool care-package for a new mother, a recently widowed neighbour or a student living away from home. Fill a box with essentials for their pantry plus a treat or two. Leave it by their back door for them to find and be surprised.
  1. Make a donation to the local food bank. Next time you are shopping, consider getting some good quality pantry essentials and drop them at the food bank to help out someone in need. You may never know who you helped, but you can be sure the food will be a kindness to someone in need.
  1. Show someone you value them with a lovely bunch of flowers. It could be your mother, your aunt, the receptionist at your office or the teacher of your child. Even the smallest bouquet of flowers is guaranteed to bring a smile to the recipient and make them feel appreciated.

We hope you will be encouraged to do one or more of the above acts of kindness today and daily find more ways to spread around a little kindness. After all, this is how we change our world for the better, one random act of kindness at a time!

The Hague: A Grand Dame of A City With A Heart of Gold

If The Hague were a woman, she would be one of those irresistibly classy women that you instantly admire and want to get to know better. The type of woman that not only carries herself with a sense of class, but, also exudes an underlying intelligence and compassion. The Hague also happens to be the home of ILNI, so while we may be a little biased, we love her and would like to introduce her to you.

The Hague, or Den Haag as she is known in her native Dutch, has it all. She is fashionable, rich in culture and bursting with creativity and art. Royalty walk her streets and she is known throughout the world as the international city of Peace and Justice. Her Ornate 17th century architecture whispers of her age, but her vibrant streets and music filled bars attest to her youthful energy. To spend a weekend in this stunningly classy city is to fall in love forever with her spirit.

The Seat of Royalty

To really experience Den Haag, we suggest staying in the centre of town. The Paleis Hotel is one of our favourites. A boutique hotel only steps from the gate to the palace garden and situated in a car-free street in the centre of the city. The Paleis hotel features beautiful Louis XVI style rooms that overlook the gardens of the Noordeinde Palace.

Step outside the door and you are in the stylish Noordeinde district filled with fashion boutiques, art galleries and antique shops interspersed with delightful cafes all situated in stunningly preserved art nouveau buildings.

Next to the hotel are the gracefully landscaped gardens of the Palace Noordeinde, which are open for wandering through. The palace is a working palace and it is not uncommon to see Royal Family coming and going.

A Gothic Past

From the Palace, it is a short walk to the House of Parliament Square. Here you can wander through the grounds of the oldest parliament buildings in the world and find yourself on the Plein, literally ‘the square’ now filled with cafes and restaurants with fantastic terraces where you can relax and enjoy a drink or snack in the midst of the beautiful historical architecture of what was once a 13th century gothic castle, the Binnenhof.

The Plein in a former life was the vegetable garden for the castle and still maintains the feel of a medieval square surrounded by historical buildings. During the day it is the place for coffee and business lunches, but if you return in the evening you will find a different side as the Plein is now also one of the cities top nightlife spots to enjoy live music and clubs.

Explore the Golden Age of Art

Located just off the Plein is the Maurits House Art Museum, originally a home of a wealthy sugar and slave trader, in 1882 it became home for some of the most famous Dutch paintings of the golden age. Perhaps one of the most famous being Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.

For art of another kind, a short walk away is the former Winter palace of Queen Emma, which is now a beautiful museum housing the extraordinary art of Escher and his optical illusions and impossible objects.

A Place of Elegance

Next to the winter palace is the famous Hotel Des Indes, which has hosted royalty and celebrities for more than 130 years. The Hotel Des Indes oozes elegance and grandeur, and it is hard to miss with its stunning yellow exterior. Step inside and enjoy a four-course High tea in their beautiful lounge area beneath glittering chandeliers in the baroque style lobby.

Heading back towards the centre of the city and the shopping streets you can wander along the Lange Voorhout, a long garden that runs along 19th century buildings that are now homes to the various embassies and cultural institutions.

Shop Until You Drop

In the main shopping centre you will find all the flagship stores of the major fashion labels of the world. Gorgeous large window displays entice you in for more. Wander through the incredible Passage, the only remaining example of a 19th century covered shopping street. On the other side of the passage, you will come to the Art Deco marvel that is the Bijenkorf department store. A traditional Dutch department store that remains popular to this day.

A City With a Heart For Peace and Justice

The Hague is not all history and shopping, beating at the centre of this city is a heart for justice and compassion. A visit to the city would not be complete without visiting two important places that allow you to see the passionate heart this city has for world peace and justice.

The Hague’s heart of compassion is clearly seen in the Humanity House museum and exhibition space. Humanity House was set up to spread empathy and understanding of the plight of refugees. Experience some of what it must feel like to be in their shoes by traveling through their simulation exhibition where you will be forced from your home, and processed through a Red Cross immigration camp.

The Hague’s heart for peace and justice can be further felt from the warmth of the peace flame burning at the gates of the Peace Palace. Home to the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, this beautiful Neo-Renaissance style building is one of the most photographed in the city. The Peace flame is surrounded by the Peace Path built from 196 large and small stones from 196 countries, including a piece of the Berlin Wall and a stone from Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years.

Just as the stones from around the world have been left at the foot of the Peace Palace, this city will leave a lasting impression on any visitor who takes the time to get to know this grand and glamorous dame of a city called Den Haag.

Five Essential Ingredients for Learning A Language As An Adult

We always hear that children have the advantage in learning a second language and that once we hit a certain age our brains become stuck and slower to learn. However, we are not so sure that learning stops at puberty. Having known many clever multi-linguals who have managed to learn a language well past the age of pimples, we decided to ask around for advice on the key ingredients for learning a language as an adult.

According to our sources, and to personal experience, the secret of mastering a new language as an adult comes down to 5 key essentials; Intensity, Immersion, Incentive, Interaction, and Fun.

Intensity

Sorry people, a one-hour class once a week is just not going to get you speaking fluent Spanish for your next holiday. There really is no alternative to just putting in the hours. Better to do a short intensive class than to spread your learning out over years. Take a couple of weeks out of your schedule and enrol in a short intensive language class. Which brings us to the next essential…

Immersion

Sinking yourself deeply into the language is the best way to learn. By putting yourself in a position where you need to use the language to communicate, you will have no choice but to use your new skills. These real-life lessons are the key to fluency. And, what a great excuse to book that holiday in France! Surround yourself with people who will only speak that language and you will be sounding like a local in no time.

Incentive

Nothing happens without the will to change. Learning a language is the same; with a strong incentive you can pick up a new language much easier. Perhaps this is why so many international couples learn each other’s language so quickly. They have a natural incentive to learn. But, you don’t need to find an Italian lover to find the incentive to learn Italian. You can create an incentive in many ways: an incentive to communicate at work, an incentive to speak well on holiday or even an incentive to watch foreign films in their original language.

Interaction

No man is an island and no language can be learned in isolation? Languages are living things and you must use them to learn them. Many would-be learners are tempted to rely on an app or an online program to learn a language. While there is some benefit to learning vocabulary and grammatical structures this way, without practice these lessons fade in time and become of little use. And, worse, many online learners find out the hard way that they have learned the language wrong in some key way and cannot use it to communicate in real life. Bummer!

Fun

Finally, the last key ingredient is of course fun. Learning a language needs to be enjoyable. In order to stay engaged and actively learning it, is important to have a little fun with learning. Appreciating the language, laughing at your attempts to use it, learning the jokes or how to make a cool play on word; these are the things that make a language come alive. Enjoy the thrill of understanding the words in a song, or finally understanding the joke. Language learning should never be too serious and a good dose of fun adds an essential flavour to the learning journey.

Make the most of these 5 essential ingredients, get over your fears of making mistakes, and jump right into learning that language you have always wanted to.

And, if you remember one thing from this post, we hope it is that you are never too old to learn a new language. To encourage you we have translated the phrase into some of the languages spoken by the people behind ILNI;

“You are never too old to learn”

Dutch:

“Men is nooit te oud om te leren”

German:

“Du bist niemals zu alt zum Lernen”

Italian:

“Non è mai troppo tardi per imparare”

French:

“On est jemais trop vieux pour apprendre”

Indonesian:

“Kamu tak pernah terlalu tua untuk belajar”

Iranian:

“Mahi ra har vaghat az ab begiri tazas” – Literally ‘It doesn’t matter when you catch a fish it is always fresh’

Our 8 Most Powerful Post-Holiday Blues Busters

It is that time of year when most of us are suffering from a small dose of post-holiday blues. We have left behind the sunny beaches and lazy days by the pool and are now faced with the reality of being back to work. Ouch! Even if you love your job the effects of that post-holiday slump can be tough. We have put together our list of the best ways to recover from any post-holiday blues you might be feeling.

 

  1. Set some big audacious goals for the rest of the year

 

Having a goal that you really want to achieve is the fastest way to set your mind on the future rather than on the holiday that has just finished. We believe in big audacious goals that really excite you! Try making a list of 2 or 3 fabulous things you want to achieve in the coming months and watch those blues fade away.

 

  1. Find your groove again.

 

Getting back into the usual routines of life might seem counter-intuitive when you have just got back from an adventure vacation. However, most of us are actually creatures of habit and being back into a routine can help us pass through a period of post-holiday blues much quicker. So unpack that bag, get your grocery list written, and get back to the gym. Whatever, your usual routine is, get back into it with gusto as soon as you arrive home.

 

  1. Bring back some inspiration from your holiday

 

Just got back from Spain or Italy? Fabulous! Look up a great paella or risotto recipe to cook and then invite some friends over to share it. Create new memories with the people you love with some post-holiday inspiration.

 

  1. Get creative with holiday memories.

 

Find a new way to remember your holiday that is more meaningful and lasting than just posting a few holiday snaps on social media. Why not choose one or two great photos from your trip to be printed and framed. A large canvas, with a photo taken by you, will bring back the feel-good memories of your trip immediately and ensure you have some unique artwork in your home.

 

  1. Get some easy wins in the first week.

 

An easy win is basically any task we can quickly and easily mark off our to-do list. In your first week back fill half of your to-do list with easy to do tasks. Make them simple tasks that can be completed quickly and easily and give you the immense satisfaction of ticking off your list of things to do. Getting in some quick easy wins will get you back on a roll much quicker.

 

  1. Treat yourself

 

Just because your holiday is over, does not mean you have to stop treating yourself. Plan a mid-week treat to celebrate making it to Wednesday on your first week back. Treat yourself to something special, maybe a meal out, a bunch of flowers, or a new handbag.

  1. Explore More

 

Part of the fun of holidays is exploring new places and trying new things. We often think this cannot be done where we live, but we beg to differ. Somewhere in your neighbourhood or city is a new café or restaurant waiting for you to try. Or perhaps you prefer to visit a movie theatre and see a new film or explore a park you haven’t visited before. Make an effort to try to bring some of that holiday adventure into your daily life and sweep those post-holiday blues away.

 

  1. Plan your next trip

 

If all else fails, get busy planning your next holiday. Even if it is another year away, at least you then have something great to look forward to. Find some inspiration online and make a list of new exciting places to visit and then start making some plans.

 

We hope our list of blue busters will help you make a speedy recovery from any post-holiday blues and that our ideas help you to blow away any lingering gloominess about being back from holiday.