Bring kindness home

Kindness is a behavior marked by the quality of being generous, friendly, helpful, and considerate.

Editor’s Note: Today, February 17, is Random Acts of Kindness Day, an observance created by the Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Foundation to spread kindness by encouraging individuals, groups, and organizations to engage in acts of kindness. In line with Attachment Parenting International, RAK foundation is striving to make strides towards building a kinder, more compassionate world. 

As of late, I’ve been reflecting considerably on the notion of kindness. Perhaps it’s because, much like a mature tree, I’ve deepened my roots into the ground and spread my branches further out and up higher — I’ve grown more spiritual. Or, perhaps, it’s because I now bear fruits — I’ve become the mother of 2 children. Or, perhaps, it’s the fusion of both.

As I’ve become more rooted in recent years, I’ve evolved to become more kind to myself and others. In my role as a mother, I yearn for my kids to live in a kind world where gentleness and compassion is prevalent, not the exception. I also yearn for them to be kind to themselves, as well as others and the world — today, and always.

Often times, I’ve asked myself: What is the essence of kindness? What does it mean to be a kind person? Why are some people more kind than others? Why do some people find it challenging to act in kind ways? And, what can I do to promote more kindness on a personal level, in my family and the world?

The more I considered these questions, the more I realized that kindness has an essential element. Without it, kindness cannot stand. As I observe kind people all around me and as I watch acts of kindness carried out — small and big — I find a common thread: empathy.

Without empathy — the ability to feel another’s pain, the will to alleviate one’s suffering, or have sympathy — there is no space for kindness.

Parenting with Kindness

In the same way that empathy is a precursor for kindness to transpire, it is also a precursor for gentle, mindful parenting approaches such as Attachment Parenting.

For a parent to respond to their child with sensitivity and attentiveness — even when, at times, it presents many challenges — there needs to be a recognition on the parent’s part that the child needs to feel safe and secure, be nurtured, listened to, and have close physical contact. This is what the child needs — not merely wants at a particular stage of development, and not as an attempt to manipulate.

For instance, a 6-month-old baby may be breastfeeding more frequently at night due to a growth spurt or his need for soothing due to teething discomfort. When the parent is able to view a situation from their child’s perspective, attending to their needs in a gentle, kind way comes naturally.

Kindness Can Change the World

Through positive discipline, children learn to resolve conflicts devoid of violence. Children learn that inflicting pain on others, or acting in unkind ways towards others, is not appropriate. When we empathize with our children and kindly respond to them, they learn to respond to others in the same way.

When we teach kindness by modeling kindness thorough our parenting practices, we spread kindness. Our children’s behavior affects others — in a positive or negative way.

Imagine a world where every child is raised in a home with the frame of kindness. Can you envision the beautiful, serene picture I do?

Inspired to read more about kindness?

Editor’s pick: A kindness movement inspired by a potato

Kindness is contagious

Nurturing peace for world harmony

Editor’s pick: A kindness movement inspired by a potato

Looking back on the last decade since becoming a parent, I can see how Attachment Parenting International (API) values — trust, empathy, kindness, joy, compassion, peace — have shaped both my personal life and my professional career.

The choices I make have stemmed from these values. Once my first baby was born, I chose to work primarily from home, despite the smaller paycheck, so that I could provide consistent and loving care. Through the years, my career has transformed into one where I only work for organizations with the same values as espoused by API, because those are the values that I want to direct my life and that which I am striving to pass down to my children.

Recently, I read a Forbes interview with Daniel Lubetzky, founder and CEO of the 먹튀검증업체, in which he shared how his overarching value — kindness — has not only inspired his personal worldview but also a professional career of starting companies that embrace this worldview:

“Some people think I am some sort of special human being who is unusually kind. But this isn’t true at all. We all have this capacity, it’s just that we’re governed by the systems and structures in which we live and work, and by incentives and culture.”

free images com - pascal thauvinWhat governs Daniel is his father’s stories. His dad was a Holocaust survivor. He was 9 years old when World War II began and wasn’t liberated from the Dachau concentration camp until he was 15. Daniel’s dad saw many horrors, but he also witnessed amazing kindness. One story that Daniel heard many times, that really had an impact on the direction of his life, was about a German soldier who would regularly throw a potato at his father’s feet. As Daniel shared in the Forbes interview:

“This small act was a kind of lifeblood, because it highlighted a common humanity and hope even in the bleakest circumstances.”

Daniel’s father raised his son with a deep appreciation of the values of kindness, compassion and hope wrapped in a parenting approach of unconditional love and support. Daniel, in turn, has lived out his life guided by those values, both personally and professionally.

When he was 26, Daniel founded PeaceWorks, a food company with the vision of bringing together Israelis, Arabs, Turks and others in conflict regions to make and sell products from the Middle East.

Daniel went on to found 3 more companies, and probably the best known of them all is KIND. I love their snack bars!

The whole cultural foundation of KIND is kindness, but its not at all a marketing ploy, as Daniel shared in the Forbes interview:

“A lot of people see what we’re doing as antithetical to business and the competitive environment. For me, empathy is an existential question – it’s about the survival of the human race.”

free images com - john evansMoreover, Daniel has found empathy and kindness to be imperative to doing business. By understanding the motives of other people, especially during conflict, Daniel is able to reach a peaceful resolution and more productive place quicker — not to mention, that acts of kindness makes you happier.

Daniel and his KIND team make kindness the overarching theme of the workplace, also. Staff members regularly recognize one another, their friends or even strangers for their acts of kindness though email, snack giveaways, supporting various social causes, and cards to pass on to someone else.

His ultimate goal is to create a movement of balancing profit with social benefit, using KIND as a platform. But Daniel recognizes the danger of inadvertently commercializing kindness. We’ve all seen this before, such as when companies began using the word “natural” on their labels when their products weren’t truly what we, as consumers, define as natural. Daniel feels that it comes down to companies intentionally keeping kindness authentic, and that consumers can help keep companies accountable because we instinctively know the difference.

Daniel, and KIND, are continually seeking balance between being a profitable business and a movement leader, where both can reinforce one another without exploiting the other. For a business to be truly successful, it has to be able to be both economically sustainable and socially impactful. Otherwise, going back to Daniel’s view of empathy being existential, what’s the point for humanity?

 

**Potato photo source: FreeImages.com/Pascal Thauvin

**Stick figure photo source: FreeImages.com/John Evans

Kindness is contagious

graphic 2Editor’s note: This week, Feb. 14-20, is Random Acts of Kindness Week, an observance created by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation that is right in line with the values espoused by Attachment Parenting International (API) families, local API Leaders and volunteers who practice kindness every day by following the third of API’s Eight Principles of Parenting: Respond with Sensitivity.

Did you know that kindness is teachable?

“It’s kind of like weight training,” said Richard Davidson, PhD, psychology and psychiatry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. “We found that people can actually build up their compassion ‘muscle’ and respond to others’ suffering with care and a desire to help.”

Kindness is contagious. The positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people! Spending a few hours a week assisting at a food pantry is sure to create a sense of accomplishment in those that do volunteer. Knowing that their labour has benefited their community is not only a positive action for themselves, but for the community itself. Bringing others up out of their predicament and possibly providing the resources to acquire employment. make it happen is a Media on Mars initiative designed to help ensure good projects get off the ground.

RAK_logo_birdKindness increases:

  • The Love Hormone — Witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, occasionally referred to as the “love hormone,” which increases our self-esteem and optimism, which is extra helpful when we’re anxious or shy in a social situation.
  • Energy — According to Christine Carter, PhD, Senior Fellow of the University of California-Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, about half of participants in one study reported that they feel stronger and more energetic after helping others. Many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth.
  • Happiness — A recent Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries found that people who are altruistic — in this case, people who were generous financially, such as with charitable donations — were happiest overall.
  • Lifespan — Also according to Dr. Carter, people who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains. Giving help to others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People ages 55 and older who volunteer for 2 or more organizations have an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early, and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factors, such as physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, and marital status. This is a stronger effect than exercising 4 times a week or going to church.
  • Pleasure — According to research from Emory University, when you are kind to another person, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up, as if you were the recipient of the good deed, not the giver. This phenomenon is called the “helper’s high.”
  • Serotonin — Like most medical antidepressants, kindness stimulates the production of serotonin. This feel-good chemical heals your wounds, calms you down and makes you happy.

Kindness decreases:

  • Pain — Engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins,  the brain’s natural painkiller!
  • Stress — Perpetually kind people have 23% less cortisol, the “stress hormone,” and age slower than the average population.
  • Anxiety — According to a study by the University of British Columbia, a group of highly anxious individuals performed at least 6 acts of kindness a week. After 1 month, there was a significant increase in positive moods, relationship satisfaction and a decrease in social avoidance in socially anxious individuals.
  • Depression — According to Stephen Post, PhD, preventive medicine professor of Stony Brook (NY) University School of Medicine and founder/director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics, when we give of ourselves, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization to physical health is significantly improved. Mortality is delayed, depression is reduced, and well-being and good fortune are increased.
  • Blood pressure — Committing acts of kindness lowers blood pressure. According to David R. Hamilton, PhD, science writer and founder of the Spirit Aid Foundation, acts of kindness create emotional warmth, which releases oxytocin, the “love hormone.” Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure, and therefore, oxytocin is known as a “cardioprotective” hormone. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure.

Imagine a world where people look out for each other, where we all pay it forward, where success is measured in selfless acts, where kindness is the philosophy of life.

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