Do You Want a Kind or an Unkind Future?

 

If you want to change the world and have your own personal impact on our future, then always be a little kinder than necessary.

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.

Does kindness make the world a better place? Could our acts of kindness warm the coldness of other people’s lives?

In our mobile-global society, people across the planet are linked together via the Internet, satellite communications, social networking and even international products.

Could a network of person-to-person kindness eventually connect the world in a meaningful way?

The best person to answer your travel questions or guide you through the process of creating the perfect pasta sauce might be several thousand miles away, but still within your immediate access, ready to offer valuable advice, thanks to technology.

But is the opposite also true? How did you feel when the friend you met for coffee keeps incessantly checks her text messages? Is it possible to have love and compassion for all humankind without engaging in visible deeds of kindness with the people you are engaged with around you?

Try thinking about it this way. Do not ask me to be kind, just ask me to act as though I were kind. What do you think our future might look like if we all “acted” as if we were kind?

Reaching out to others with the intention to serve and no expectation of return rewards you with a sense of power and influence over situations that might appear out of your control. You are no longer a victim of an unfortunate circumstance.

An act of kindness is never insignificant. Kindness is manifestations of strength and resolutions.

Renowned psychotherapist and author Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW writes,  “Cruelty is never brave—it’s mostly cheap and easy, especially in today’s culture.”

Dare to be part of the brave new world. Be kind.

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Kindness in Education

Can kindness be taught? Do humans develop kindness naturally, or must we teach our children to be kind? If you believe that kindness is something we learn, does it have a place in academic curriculums?
We are raising and educating our children in the most competitive academic era that our global society has ever known. Applications to the right preschools now outnumber applications to universities. Middle school sports teams increasingly demand private athletic coaching to ensure a child’s placement on the team. And pressure to score high on college entrance exams has driven some students to unthinkable levels of cheating and mind stimulating drug use.
In the face of all these educational challenges, kindness actually helps our children succeed. Kindness raises students’ self-esteem and enhances the learning environment. Minds are open and available to greater memory retention in non-hostile settings. So, whether academically proficient or not, students are given a way to excel through kindness.
It’s not only struggling students who benefit from a climate of good will. During difficult or stressful times, students are empowered when they take positive action and extend kindness and support to their fellow students. Kindness encourages empathy and helps develop valuable interpersonal skills that will help children succeed in every setting throughout their entire lives.
Schools are a great place to build on the beneficial principles of kindness that our children have been nurtured with at home. And if a child has not been gifted a kind loving home, our schools are a great place to start learning about it.
On the wall of the fifth-grade classroom at Willow Creek Academy, there are pictures and writings about kindness: kindness to the earth and kindness to one another. The fifth grade students came up with the idea for the “Kindness Project” independently. The year-long project provides opportunities for students to think deeply about how to keep their classroom community friendly and safe for everyone. Meegan Devol, their teacher, has integrated kindness into reading and writing projects, and the class regularly discusses kindness in class meetings.Devol shares, “We are focusing on eliminating put-downs from our class entirely. I know some people say, ‘They’re just playing around’ or ‘That’s what kids do;’ however, if a child does not feel safe in the classroom environment, they will not take chances in the classroom and learning will suffer. Thankfully, we made it through today with only one put-down. Furthermore, many of the students gave each other compliments throughout the day. I am so proud of room 25!”
Is it possible to learn kindness at almost age or at any time during your life? The answer is yes! I was reminded of an important lesson in kindness from my son when he was only five years old. As we walked in Union Square in San Francisco on a chilly afternoon, my son generously offered his warm wooly scarf to a homeless man sitting on the edge of the sidewalk. At first, I wanted to snatch his scarf back from the man, but then I stopped to think why my son might have offered his scarf. And then I remembered the quote, “A little child shall lead them.”
Kindness is a great lesson, and not just for tomorrow’s leaders. This week we will be high-lighting standout programs and school across the country educating children on the importance of kindness. Do you know a teacher who deserves a sincere thank you?

Volunteering Is Sexy!

 Volunteer - It's sexy!
Look no further than volunteer firefighters for proof. It’s that tug on the heart strings—the hero to the rescue—that hooks you, even in the imagination.
Yes, volunteering is sexy. When you give to others you feel good. And when you feel good, you look good. It’s what I call the “giving glow.” A pretty face is nice, but it only gets you so far.This not just a nice thought. Scientific research and positive psychology indicate:

  • Giving makes us happier than taking.
  • Volunteering can increase life satisfaction and self-esteem.
  • Volunteering facilitates meeting others, connecting with others and making friends.
  • People who volunteer are seen as more attractive to the opposite sex.
  • People who volunteer are seen as cooler than those who don’t volunteer.
If volunteering can do all that, why don’t more people do it? According to the website volunteer.com, volunteering has an image problem. To the ill-informed, volunteering is seen as dowdy, and most organizations have not done a good job promoting themselves as sexy.
Some organizations, however, have caught on. Darren Crisis of Glee and Daniel Radcliffe are the handsome spokesmen for The Trevor Project, a crisis intervention organization for gay, lesbian, transgender and questioning youth. Although women really didn’t need another reason to adore them, they are even hotter showing they care. Kindness is sexy, and volunteering is kindness in action.
Want to get more likes and nudges on your online dating profile? Add volunteering to your profile. But be honest. Nothing is less sexy than lying. You have to really get out there and be of service. You might even meet a hot new sexy friend while you’re there.

Killing Resentment with Kindness

Believe it or not, resentment and anger have the power to kill. They kill our ability to lead happy and productive lives. They kill our relationships with others.
It’s been a rough week, the roughest in quite some time. Although I am reaching out and calling people in my support system, trying to connect and fighting the urge to curl up to reruns of LOST on Hulu and eat Cafe Del Sol nachos, no one seems available. Some friends! Why is it that when my shit hits the fan, people are not lining up to get messy?
Of course it makes me feel sorry for myself. I love to wallow in self-pity at times like this. Instead of looking at you-know-who (myself), I point the finger at them. I get angry and resentful that no one is running to rescue me and watch me lick my wounds. Why do I feel these toxic feelings, which make me feel physically sick, create stress and anxiety, and can lead to self-destructive behavior?
Maybe this time I should break tradition and send kindness, appreciation and love to my busy friends. By allowing anger and resentment to run (or ruin) my life, I squander many hours that could be spent on more noble thoughts and activities. Even in cases where someone purposely harmed me, anger and resentment  come right back at me like a boomerang. Sending kindness to those who challenge me in small to great ways sets me free from the venomous effects of unhealthy negative emotions.
I need to get over myself. I can still watch LOST, but I think I’ll lose the nacho chips—and the one on my shoulder—and have a few blueberries instead. I’ll be fine.  As Stuart Smalley from SNL used to say, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And, gosh darn it, people like me!”

Are You My Mother?

Remember that book about the baby chick that embarks on a journey to find its mother? In the book, the chick asks a dog, a cat, a cow and many others, “Are you my mother?”

I have been that chick. I severed my relationship with my mother when I was 17. For many years, I made many of the women in my life my ‘surrogate’ mothers and projected every unresolved mommy issue I carried onto those poor souls. That’s a lot of baggage to dump on someone, but somehow most of them put up with me, helped me realize that they were not my mama bird, and loved me through my struggles.

Long after I became a mother myself, I realized that I wasn’t really searching for my mother. I was searching for my ideal mother—the one I wanted and expected, but never got. Through the process of motherless mothering and a perennial search for a person that existed only in my unrealistic, unmet expectations, I traded in my militant self-pity for feelings of compassion, forgiveness, comfort, warmth and love.

In recent years, I have reconnected with my mother, who I now not only accept, but appreciate. I am very grateful to the proverbial dog, cat, cow and others who set me straight and led me on a path back to my own mama bird.

Each relationship that forms between a mother and child is unique and special in its own way. What is the relationship like between you and your mother?

Kindness is for Tree Hugging Hippies

That’s what I thought before I moved to California from the Right Coast. The word kindness triggered images of wishy-washy, bleeding-heart suckers. This, of course, says a lot about the person I was when I moved here. It also speaks volumes about how, kindness was (and wasn’t) modeled for me. In short, kindness scared me. It was unfamiliar. I didn’t trust people who were kind to me. Why are they being nice to me? What do they really want? Growing up, I was programmed to take and hoard. Operating from a scarcity mentality, I still find myself subconsciously thinking and acting out on the idea that there is not enough of everything I need or want. If I believe there is not enough to go around, and I am looking to only take care of me and mine, giving and kindness are easily forgotten. I am pretty sure, deep down inside, kindness is my natural way of being and I lost touch with it somewhere along the way. Maybe that is why kindness can trigger me. It reminds me of the essential goodness of that caring child. Can you relate to my story? Does it trigger you? In which ways? Do you have another point of view to share?