Kindness

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

There is no substitute for kindness. Its power is perhaps only surpassed by love.

The wave of “random acts of kindness” popularized doing little things for strangers, unannounced and anonymously.   Usually these acts were isolated but sometimes it catches on, like paying for the food for the person behind you in the drive-thru line, and then everyone starts doing it.  There are many other acts that take place like mowing the grass of an elderly neighbor, stopping to help someone stranded or carrying someone’s packages for them.

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“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

Remember the song, “Try A Little Kindness”?  It was a popular song in 1969 by Glen Campbell and seemed to become an anthem for awhile.  It was written by Curt Sapaugh and Bobby Austin and recorded my many other artists.  After the world became unhinged by events in 1968, a bright, positive and even trite song like this rang true.

Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

A kind act, whether given or received, gives us a nice sensation.  Like a hit of pure oxygen, it picks us up, gets the blood flowing and causes us to feel good.

“Whatever possession we gain by our sword cannot be sure or lasting, but the love gained by kindness and moderation is certain and durable.”  – Alexander the Great

Researchers have studied the effects of kindness and discovered a peptide hormone called oxytocin, that is critical in our ability to feel empathy and trust.  Oxytocin travels through the body from the brain to effect other organs.  Perhaps we can really feel kindness in our hearts.

Dacher Keltner, director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Laboratory, told Scientific American: “These tendencies are felt in the wonderful realm of emotion—emotions such as compassion, gratitude, awe, embarrassment and mirth. These emotions were of interest to Darwin, and Darwin-inspired studies have revealed that our capacity for caring, for play, for reverence and modesty are built into our brains, bodies, genes and social practices.”

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” – Lao Tzu

Karyn Hall, Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today:  “Kindness is also about telling the truth in a gentle way when doing so is helpful to the other person. Receiving accurate feedback in a loving and caring way is an important part of a trusted relationship. The courage to give and receive truthful feedback is a key component of growth and flexible thinking.”

Providing feedback is also at the foundation of servant leadership.  If you care about someone’s success and growth, you owe it to them to provide feedback, again, in a constructive supportive manner.

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Emily Esfahani Smith in an article in The Atlantic says, “There are many reasons why relationships fail, but if you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships, it’s often a breakdown of kindness.”  According to Smith, research is showing that not only is it important how couples respond when things are tough, but more importantly, how they respond to each other when things go good.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.” – Mother Teresa


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