Embracing Kindness

I’ve been traveling a bunch in the last two weeks and it’s come to my attention that there is a whole lot of kindness out there. I wonder if part of it is due to the various natural disasters as of late. There is nothing like being without power or being displaced from home to humble us and move the heart. I was displaced for seven months after Hurricane Matthew hit (over a year ago) and it was awe inspiring to have countless people come to my aid with both financial and emotional support. It gave and continues to give me great hope.

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Kindness is actually good for both the giver and receiver. Isn’t that awesome? We are hard wired to be kind and it actually helps us feel good. It’s so easy to fall into the negativity bias that looks for constant danger. Try looking for kindness and your day will get that much better.

Here is why you should embrace kindness:

Health. As Bruce Cryer wrote for Project Happiness, “Sincere kindness from the heart triggers a cascade of vitality and health-inducing biochemicals in our body, at least 1400, which re-energizes both giver and receiver. Now research has shown that at least 600 genes are designed to protect our health and longevity are actually triggered to express when we are feeling kind and compassionate.” So, take two tablets of kindness and feel healthy. You are biochemically built for it.

Connected. Kindness connects us. I was in Scottsdale last week on business. I knew that breakfast at the hotel didn’t open until 6:30 AM, but I arrived 10 minutes early hoping I could grab a quick bite before heading to the airport. The server let me in early. I was so appreciative. She didn’t have to but it connected us. I felt like she was on the same wavelength: “Let’s make sure Cathy eats AND arrives at the airport on time.” For this act of kindness, she was on Team Cathy.

Younger. Yep. It makes you younger than your stressed out counterparts. Worry and stress, no surprise, ages you. Embracing kindness slows down the process. As Cryer writes, “Those worry lines that can become deep grooves on someone’s’ forehead or around the eyes don’t have to be there! It’s in our power to change it. The stressful emotions we all experience separate us from the kindness and love of others. They create walls of a prison we are now the inhabitant of. No one wins.” Leave the Botox behind and elect kindness instead.

Armor. I assume you have heard the term, kill them with kindness. Having a long service background, which included cocktail waitressing at the San Francisco Airport and running the cash register at the Sizzler franchise I owned, I ran into my share of grumpy folks. I remember thinking that my smile and compassion could win anyone over. It didn’t work every time, but it worked on most. Armoring up with kindness was almost like throwing down the gauntlet. Let me see if I can turn this grumpy guy around. And when it works and they leave feeling better than they came in? Priceless.

Home. Kindness starts at home. I remember a guy who was friendly with everyone he met and knew, but was an absolute jerk with his own kids. Don’t be that guy. Kiss your spouse on the cheek, hug your child and give a few extra scratches to Fido. Home should be the center of kindness and compassion. Just because it’s out of view doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. It matters that you are always welcome and loved by your family. That starts and ends with you.

Work. You know who is approachable and who is not. Who is kind and who is not. Who would you rather work with? So be that person. The one who listens. The one who doesn’t judge. The one who doesn’t keep score. I know who my go-to people are at work. Make sure you are some one’s go-to person. The kind person that your coworker actually feels better after experiencing “you”. Be the kind person at work.

So, think about it as you go about your day. Find the kindness that is out in the world and pay it forward to someone else. Where is there kindness in your world?

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