We could all use a little more kindness in the world.
The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote:
What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?
Being kind is top of mind these days. I like to think of kindness as a daily practice. Some of the definitions of practice include “a habitual or customary performance” and a “condition arrived at by experience or exercise.” Kindness is not something that we just have or don’t have. Kindness is a value that requires intention and effort, and a joyful effort at that. Yet, it can be challenging to exercise kindness when we feel stressed or challenged by life.
The awesome news from neuroscience, however, is that doing kind things is a happiness boost, triggering the reward centers in our brain. That also means that practice really matters as it encourages positive neuroplasticity – real changes in the brain based on experience. So every little kind act builds up the kindness pathways. Really, what’s not to love about being kind when it really comes from the heart?
But let’s admit it. Sometimes we need a little encouragement to step outside of ourselves and our comfort zones. It may be doing something kind for another person, and sometimes it can be doing something kind for yourself. Sometime it’s a shift in attitude and being tender toward the people in your life.
So every year, when Valentine’s Day rolls around, it’s refreshing to remember that love and kindness is not limited to romantic notions. We all need daily doses of love and kindness. Luckily there is no shortage of ways to do this.
How kind do you think you are? Take my Kindness Quotient Quiz to find out!
This year in particular, kindness consciousness raising is on the rise and is the mission of some of my favorite organizations. Here is what they are up to this week.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
Become a RAKavist this Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Week, February 12-18. RAK has a cool “kindness generator” that helps you track kindness. As the RAK team describes it: “The kindness generator is a tool that helps us in our goal to turn the world kind. Anyone can visit and find a kind act to do, or see acts being done by others. We keep a running total of who the kindest businesses, cities and people are across the globe.” You can register here.
Share your random act of kindness on social media using #RAKWeek2017.
The new online platform crowdsources personal acts of kindness. You can join a specific kindness initiative, like creating a healthier planet, or create one for yourself, like developing positive habits. Their KindLab, where kindness meets science, is looking at how kindness creates happiness. You can contribute to the research as a participant and also check out their study about kindness.
City of Kindness
Stefani Germanotta, also known as Lady Gaga, has a kindness initiative through her Born This Way Foundation, Her mission is to build a kinder, braver world. In 2016, the foundation joined philanthropist Phil Anschutz of The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, to challenge America’s cities to be kind. Learn about creating Cities of Kindness here.
It’s never too late to tell your mayor you’re ready to make every city a kinder, braver place!
You can also take the Kindness Pledge and promote kindness in schools with Positive Schools Climate programs.
For the politically-minded or social justice peeps, CompassionIt.com has a cool initiative to send compassion wrist bands to your senator. Let’s keep kindness top of mind for our top officials. Compassion It’s mission is to inspire compassionate actions and attitudes. “We envision a day when compassion is practiced by every person, for every person, on every day.”
Finally, if you need inspiration about humanity, check out the Kind World podcast by WBUR. Listen to the amazingly produced 7-minute stories about the profound ways one kind act can change lives. Listen to one story per week and see how it might change the way you look at life. I share these stories once a week on #CompassionateMondays on social media so check them out! They are inspirational.
Connect with other listeners on social media using #kindworld.
The history of Valentine’s Day is a bit mysterious but one legend claims that St. Valentine was a priest in 3rd century Rome. His kind acts of marrying young men defied Emperor Claudius II, which at the time was outlawed because he believed single men made better soldiers. He was martyred for his kindness…There are other legends behind St. Valentine and how St. Valentine’s Day became what it is today. In case you’re curious, check out how this holiday evolved on the History Channel to what it is today. http://bit.ly/MNbOmJ
Remember, kindness is contagious! Make a small kind act your valentine today and everyday.
A version of this post was originally published at www.bodimojo.com