We all have defining moments in life that shape our life trajectory but may not know it at the time. Those moments are often born of challenges that involve pain, shame or distress and therefore are memorable at a very cellular level. It takes some “kindsight” to hold those moments with tenderness and to learn and heal from them. That’s what I help people to do.
One of my first brushes with shame and cruelty came when I was a little girl being raised by a single mother. My mother was a hardworking German immigrant who sold Avon beauty products door-to-door. She was kind, quick with a compliment and was thought highly of by all who knew her.
Then one day, on the playground at school, I was called a Nazi. Worse than that, I was told that my mother was a Nazi. I didn’t know what it meant at five years old, but understood it was bad. The slur planted seeds of shame and doubt that shook me to the core and sparked many questions in me that would take decades to fully answer.
From the unkindness of a schoolyard bully to the unkindness of an entire nation that annihilated a whole culture, I searched for answers that would help me understand both the darkest and lightest places that exist in humanity. This is especially relevant in our times. I found my calling in helping others by shining the light on their gifts, nurturing compassion and inspiring the inner warrior of kindness. The answers would raise more questions about humanity and yet the search has been inspiring. As you will read in my book, The Kindness Cure: How the Science of Compassion Can Heal Your Heart and Your World.
The not so simple answer is that we are all capable of goodness and of cruelty, and we can go to great lengths for either.
KINDNESS IS LOVE IN ACTION
So here is where I find myself now, in this time and space. I’m a clinical psychologist and meditation teacher, a mother, and a kindness warrior and agent of change by mission. Kindness is love in action. It requires courage.
Living on mission for me means leading with love. I am here to guide you on the power and practice of authentic and intentional kindness. I can’t oversimplify this message. We all have our stories, after all. Carrying our own version of a schoolyard bully or bearing the scars of trauma. Or the slights, rejections and disappointments. Those stinging moments in our own lives. Those things we struggle to let go of and to heal from. And yet, there is also kindness. It comes in a variety of forms. The kind gesture that changed our perspective. The helping hand that got us through a tough time. The joyful effort in serving others. The sparks of faith, hope, and love that light the way.
Eastern spirituality teaches that every life has a measure of sorrow. Sometimes it is this that awakens us. Western spiritually teaches us to love our neighbors as oneself. We are not separate but part of a common humanity. Crossing all cultures and traditions we all know one thing for sure about kindness:
We know it when we see it.
BEING KIND DOES MATTER.
In my decades of experience as a clinical psychologist and researcher, I have focused my efforts on creating and implementing counseling and coaching programs that are focused in the modalities of positive psychology, mind-body medicine, mindfulness, stress management, and specific skills to foster self-compassion, courage, confidence, and inner leadership.
And in that experience, do you know what prevailing message bubbles to the surface time and time again?
BEING KIND DOES MATTER.
But it isn’t so simple.
The truth is: It does take effort to be kind and compassionate. To nurture our better selves. What we sometimes fail to realize is that being kind carries a pay off for the individual practicing it. It elevates us. It inspires us. It nourishes us. Kindness is a happiness fix, by not only triggering the reward center in our brains but expanding our hearts. It is a mutually beneficial act. So when I say it takes effort to be kind…it is a joyful effort.
I am a dedicated kindness warrior offering the “why” and “how” of growing a kinder mind and more open heart through the power of practicing intentional loving kindness to others. Armed with respected research and a couple decades of professional experience, I make a powerful case for extraordinary living through the practice of love and empathy, and as an agent of change, I teach the simple steps for change-making kindness. You can get started by taking this quiz.
I also work with many emerging adults and am a trained teacher in Making Friends with Yourself for adolescents and young adults, an adaptation of the Mindful Self-Compassion group program, based on the teachings Drs. Christopher Germer and Kristin Neff. I am a certified facilitator of the Daring Way Method™ in practices of courage and resilience, based on the research by Dr. Brené Brown, PHD, LMSW. Because I just love learning new things that may help others thrive, my growing edge is learning and practicing energy medicine. My current passion project is KindMinds, which is devoted to bringing “kindfulness” practices to individuals, schools and workplaces through online courses, podcasting, speaking engagements and workshops. Stay tuned.
But my heart’s work and most recent focus is on cultivating a language for human caring and generosity. Kindfulness is an embodied practice of being aware of the present moment with heart. Kindsight is an attitude of understanding and tenderness toward one’s life experiences, especially the difficult ones that test (and grow) our resilience. These terms capture the intersection of mindfulness, kindness and compassion, and is inspired by contemporary research in the social sciences, interpersonal neurobiology, and positive psychology that unequivocally show the power of kindness and compassion to change ourselves from the inside out.
BEING KIND DOES MATTER. IT BEGINS WITH YOU.
Find my profile on Psychology Today