Teach Your Well: Be Kind

When my nephew and his wife were looking for “day care” for their two-year old son, they knew that they wanted:

a caring provider

a supportive environment

intellectual stimulation and enrichment

individualized attention

You know, pretty much what all loving parents want for their own. But these millennial professionals with goals, dreams, and strong values, wanted more: they wanted their little guy to learn cooperation, collaboration – good citizenship, you might say. They also wanted their little guy to learn kindness.When I read through his “curriculum” I immediately understood why they selected this particular,  small, private center.

I am passionate in believing that we can do a much better job of being good citizens who practice kindness in their daily lives. That starts in the home and extends – or should extend- to school and to the workplace. It’s why I spent nearly 20 years traipsing all over the country developing the relationship and communication skills of corporate professionals. Through that work, I saw that 99% of people have the ability and willingness to do a better job of connecting with others, of being considerate and compassionate. Well, okay, maybe 95%, but you get the point.

Kindness is key to all of it. It’s one of those things you recognize when you give it and especially when you receive it. But first, what is it? Traits that are associated with kindness include: 

  • Having empathy for others
  • Demonstrating good listening skills
  • Being “social”
  • Being generous
  • Being charitable
  • Being helpful
  • Being courteous
  • Being caring and nurturing
  • Taking another’s perspective

Or simply “active gestures born of warm feelings for others.” I know that some folks persist in believing that kindness is a sign of weakness. I don’t believe this and the research doesn’t bear it out in the least. Instead, it says that connecting through kindness is good for us:

Physiologically, kindness reduces stress and anxiety, and may also reduce inflammation.

It increases feelings of happiness

Gives us more energy – sometimes referred to as a “helper’s high”

Reduces pain, and, get this: 

If you do volunteer work out of a sense of true kindness, makes it more likely that you will live longer.

I am thrilled to confirm the many benefits of kindness, but that’s not the main reason that thinking about, modeling, teaching, and reinforcing kindness makes me happy. For me, having a mom who embodied kindness in the midst of much hardship and difficulty until her last day on earth, I know that it is the “right”, or best way to be in this world.  I hope you don’t hear this as a reprimand or a lecture. I don’t mean it that way. Instead, I’d like to encourage a better world for all of us by living from that best place in all of us. When you consider all of this, is it any wonder that many countries around the world, including our very own, celebrate World Kindness Day on November 13th each year?

 If you are on the same page, here are three “tips” that can help keep you kindness-centered:

  • Decide that you will be a kind person, 365 days of the year
  • Accept that by putting yourself out there in kindness, you will be vulnerable to push back from others
  • Seize and create opportunities to be kind 

I can’t wait to go back home during, or just before the holiday season this year. And I can’t wait to see how that grandnephew of mine is blooming in kindness.

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