Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive
whatever grievances you have against one another.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues,
put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
The Apostle Paul, Colossians 3:12-14
For the last several blogs I’ve focused on the obstacles to happiness, e.g. perfectionism and anger. Today’s blog is going to empathize one of the virtues that augment happiness—kindness.
When I first started to research kindness a few weeks ago, I thought I knew enough about kindness already. How wrong I was! Not only is kindness one of the many virtues, it seems to be out in front when it comes to happiness.
I first searched for what the Old and New Testaments had to say about kindness and the first website I found was What Does the Bible Have to Say About Kindness? It had over fifty small quotations on kindness. I also looked for parables on kindness or compassion in the New Testament. Not surprisingly the parable that stood out was The Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 10-37). Rather than focus on the parable that we all are familiar with, I chose a TED TALK by Daniel Goleman entitled Why Aren’t We All Good Samaritans? Goleman was picked to speak at a TED Conference, which is on a different level than a TALK. It’s “…where the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to give the talk of their life in 18 minutes.” Dr. Goleman’s presentation is very down to earth, humorous and takes compassion/kindness from a global level to a personal level.
As helpful as the themes in the Bible are for inspiration, and action, I moved on to several websites that are considered to be part of the science of happiness. I was very happy to find The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. They even have a Random Acts of Kindness Week (this year February 14-20, 2016), and Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17, 2016. If you’re interested in celebrating either of these events, you can, “Check out their RAK Week page for kindness ideas and other activities they had in 2015. The 2016 program will be out in the middle of January.
Not only is there a Foundation for Kindness, there is also the World Kindness Movement (WKM). This international movement has “…no political or religious affiliations.” Their mission is to inspire individuals “…towards greater kindness and to connect nations to create a kinder world.” After its formation in Tokyo in 1997 the movement now includes 25 nations, one of which is the United States. If you check their website above, I think you’ll be impressed with what they’ve been able to accomplish in the last nineteen years.
Acts of Kindness
There’s such a wealth of information about kindness and random acts of kindness that it’s difficult to pick which articles to use for a blog. After much self- debate, I finally chose several websites. The first website is How to Be Kind. I chose it mainly because it is a three part article that deals with: 1) Developing a Kinder Perspective 2) Developing Kind Qualities, and 3) Taking Action Questions and Answers. I was particularly impressed with a part of Taking Action section that’s entitled Transform Your Life through Kindness. It starts with a quote from Aldous Huxley’s remedy for transforming your life: “People often ask me what is the most effective technique for transforming their life. It’s a little embarrassing after years of research and experimentation, I have to say that the answer is—just be a little kinder.” The article goes on to suggest that we take Huxley’s many years of research to heart and “…allow kindness to transform your life, to transcend all feelings and actions of aggression, hate, despising , anger, fear and self-deprecation, and to restore strength worn away by despair.” I say Amen, sisters and brothers!
If you’re not familiar with the The Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley, this is their Mission Statement and it contains page after page of material about kindness and happiness. You could spend hours just on this one website. Here are two articles from that website on kindness that speak for themselves. The article Three Strategies for Bringing More Kindness into Your Life “…highlights 10 core kindness practices, grouped into three broad categories. 1) How to Cultivate Feelings of Kindness. 2) How to Boost the Happiness We Get from Kindness. 3) How to Inspire Kindness in Others. The second article, Kindness Makes You Happy…and Happiness Makes You Kind, is from two studies, one from the Journal of Social Psychology and the other from Journal of Happiness Studies , that propose that “…giving to others makes us happy, even happier than spending on ourselves. What’s more, our kindness might create a virtuous cycle that promotes lasting happiness and altruism.”
To end this blog with a bang, here is a TED TALK by Dr. William Wan, titled Happiness and Kindness Dr. Wan is the General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement and the World Kindness Movement. He has graduate degrees in law, philosophy, religion and theology. Now that’s impressive. His TALK is actually about happiness by the way of kindness.