The Selfish Act of Kindness
By James Mapes
Are you a kind person? Do you like to be treated with kindness? Why should you be kind?
What if I told you that demonstrating kindness is good for your heart, slows aging, improves relationships and enhances the joy of your life, and — is a lot easier than exercising or changing your diet?
Thirty years ago when I began my business speaking career, writing an article on the benefits of kindness would have been dismissed as a “soft” topic. The hard questions would have been: How is being kind going to make our managers or sales team more motivated, efficient, creative and productive? How is being kind going to increase our bottom line?
In the past, the value of kindness was grossly overlooked. Now, advancements in neuroscience have revealed how the mind functions and what moves us to action. So the pertinent question is: What really motivates, satisfies and fulfills? What tools can be used to help reduce the ever-increasing stress experienced by those who work in the corporate arena?
I’m glad to report with absolute certainty that “kindness” does have a major impact on health and productivity. All that is required is a fundamental shift in our thinking.
Research suggests that giving to others makes us happy, even happier than spending on ourselves. Better yet, our kindness often creates a virtuous cycle that promotes lasting happiness and altruism.
A wealth of studies conducted by researchers at Harvard Business School, University of British Columbia, Max Planck Institute, Cambridge University, University of Plymouth and University of California-LA, along with others, have found a positive correlation between happiness, health, productivity, creativity, and kindness.
It’s not just that happier people are kinder, or kinder people are happier. Studies show that engaging in a random act of kindness — even if you’re told by a researcher to do so — improves your happiness level.
I am strongly suggesting that — given the constant connectivity of our “plugged in” society and the overwhelming fear and uncertainty that exists in the world today — to teach people the basics of how to manage their minds, harness their imagination and become aware that embracing soft issues, such as kindness and compassion, will have a positive influence on wellness and creativity — and profits.
Here are 4 easy-to-implement tips to help you become kinder and truly change “your” world:
- Everything begins with awareness. Develop awareness of your thoughts, actions, and reactions towards people. Once you recognize the times where you could have chosen kindness over harsh judgment, anger, curtness or dismissal, you will find opportunities to make a positive change in the way we treat others.
- Be extremely proactive. Be kind to those around you with no expectations of reward. Do this with random acts of kindness and make positive, kind choices with all the people with whom you interact throughout your day. This can be a simple “thank you” or being gracious.
- Value kindness and make it one of your core values. When you value kindness, you will change the lens through which you view the world. When you make kindness one of your core values, it becomes a compass for all your decisions.
- Acknowledge kindness. By acknowledging kindness in others, you strengthen your ability to be kind, even in a high-pressured, stressful and rapidly changing environment.
Your first reaction might be to dismiss kindness not only as soft but far too simple and ephemeral to solve the challenging issues we face in the world today. But, is it really? It just might be that making kindness a priority initiative at home and in the workplace is one of the keys to enhancing mental and physical health.
Kindness, in general, can affect how we treat everyone on every level of life — children, partners, friends, family, and community. It can enhance the way we work, including management style, how and with whom we do business and creativity of all kinds. In fact, it can shape the culture of the workplace. Choose to make kindness your “default” setting and you will live an exceptional life.