Please see below selected recent kindness-related change.
- What's New? - Kindness
- What's Changing? - Compassion
- What's Changing? - Generosity
- What's Changing? - Self-Esteem
- HBR argued that when anxiety is high and morale is low, kindness isn’t a luxury - it’s a necessity. With mass layoffs, economic uncertainty, and geopolitical tensions, kindness is needed now more than ever, especially at work. Research suggests that kindness yields positive outcomes for businesses. When people receive a compliment or words of recognition, it helps them feel more fulfilled, boosts their self-esteem, improves their self-evaluations, and triggers positive emotions. At an individual level, when people engage in acts of kindness, it boosts serotonin and dopamine - neurotransmitters in the brain that promote feelings of satisfaction and well-being. It also releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
- The School of Life asked: why might kindness be so hard to bear? Why should warmth prove – on occasion - repulsive? Because, through no fault of our own, our whole character may have been built up around the need to cope well with not being given what we want; with not finding intimate satisfaction, with not being the recipient of anyone’s reliable kindness, with being foiled in our search for tenderness and sympathy. Somewhere in our past, we are liable to have experienced severe let-down, against which we had to insulate ourselves with a plethora of clever defensive strategies. We learnt to always reject before we were rejected.
- There are many unkind people in the world, but few ever prove quite as skilled in the art of nastiness - nor so relentless in practising it – as we are against ourselves. Self-hatred stems from an ingrained sense of what we should be like. Somewhere in our evolution – whether from our parents, our peers, or the wider culture – we picked up some unyielding ideas about the way we ought to be: how we should look; what we should have achieved; how many mistakes we should have made. We are tormented by our failure to live up to our own high standards, warned The School of Life.
- Researchers at The Ohio State University asked people with medium levels of depressive or anxiety symptoms to participate weekly in small acts of kindness, social interactions or thought recording to alleviate their symptoms. While all three experienced reduced symptoms, acts of kindness had the added benefit of promoting social connection, a key predictor of both well-being and recovery from anxiety and depressive disorders.
- Maria Popova points to the idea that we should “Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realise you’re already in heaven now,” which Jack Kerouac wrote in a 1957 letter to his first wife turned lifelong friend. “Kindness, kindness, kindness,” Susan Sontag resolved in her diary on New Year’s Day in 1972. Half a century later, the Dalai Lama placed a single exhortation at the center of his ethical and ecological philosophy: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
- The modern world is richer, safer and more connected than ever before but, for The School of Life it is arguably also a far less loving world than we need or want: impatience, self-righteousness, moralism and viciousness are rife while forgiveness, tolerance and sympathetic good humour can be in short supply. TSOL's A More Loving World rallies us to remember how much we all long for, and depend on, love: how much we need people to forgive us our errors, how much everyone deserves to be treated with consideration and imagination, and how being truly civilised means extending patience and kindness to all.
- Further reading:
- Further reading:
- The School of Life cautioned that some of what holds people back from showing greater love is a sense that it would be dangerous and woolly-minded to do so. Too much sensitivity and sweetness, too much tolerance and sympathy appear to be the enemies of an appropriately grown-up and hard-headed existence. Such types are not saying that it wouldn’t be delightful if we could display compassion and tenderness towards one another, if we could be sensitive to the sufferings of strangers and quick to forgive and understand the failings of our colleagues and lovers; they just don’t think that this has much relevance in the real world.
- More than 60,000 people took part in the world’s largest in-depth study on kindness. Three-quarters of people said they received kindness from close friends or family quite often or nearly all the time. And when asked about the most recent time someone was kind to them, 16% of people said it was within the last hour and a further 43% said it was within the last day. Whatever people’s age or wherever they lived, kindness was very common.
- In Kindness Isn’t Weakness, The School of Life argued that some of what holds people back from showing greater love is a sense that it would be dangerous and woolly-minded to do so. Too much sensitivity and sweetness, too much tolerance and sympathy appear to be the enemies of an appropriately grown-up and hard-headed existence. Such types are not saying that it wouldn’t be delightful if we could display compassion and tenderness towards one another, if we could be sensitive to the sufferings of strangers and quick to forgive and understand the failings of our colleagues and lovers; they just don’t think that this has much relevance in the real world.
- According to The School of Life, if we’re to stay alive, we need radically to redraw our moral code and return to kindness the prestige that it should always have had. We have learnt far too much about a lack of mercy, about panic, about self-suspicion and finding oneself pitiful. Now we need to rediscover the virtues of forgiveness, mercy, calm and gentleness. And when we panic and feel intensely anxious about the future, we need to remember that we are in essence worrying about our fundamental legitimacy and loveability. Our survival depends on a swift mastery of the art of self-compassion.
- “Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realise you’re already in heaven now,” Jack Kerouac wrote in a letter to his first wife and lifelong friend. Somehow, despite our sincerest intentions, we repeatedly fall short of this earthly divinity, so readily available yet so easily elusive. Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips and historian Barbara Taylor in their book, On Kindness, observed that “we are never as kind as we want to be, but nothing outrages us more than people being unkind to us”, noted Maria Popova.
- Positive News notes that in a world that is increasingly time-pressured and an economic model that has an unyielding focus on improving efficiency, it is easier than ever to overlook or de-prioritise your personal feelings and needs. But according to psychologists, the art of self-kindness, although something that can be honed, is not something that should be optional. Whether it be in the realms of the physical, emotional, spiritual, or indeed professional, being conscious and sensitive towards yourself, they say, is key preparation for everything that life throws at us.“It can change your life massively,” said Juandri Buitendag, a counselling psychologist, adding that “It’s true that at first humans were just on this world to survive. But the world has changed and there are many things to deal with: we’re on this constant hamster wheel. Therefore, self-care, self-kindness and empathy is so important.”
- “Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now,” Jack Kerouac wrote in a beautiful letter to his first wife and lifelong friend. Somehow, despite our sincerest intentions, we repeatedly fall short of this earthly divinity, so readily available yet so easily elusive. And yet in our culture, it has been aptly observed, “we are never as kind as we want to be, but nothing outrages us more than people being unkind to us.”
- In a sentiment Carl Sagan would come to echo in his invitation to meet ignorance with kindness, Leo Tolstoy wrote: "You should respond with kindness toward evil done to you, and you will destroy in an evil person that pleasure which he derives from evil."
- See also:
- A former UK member of parliament appealed for a "national kindness effort" after seeing a man in a north London supermarket refusing to give an elderly woman one of the last packets of pasta in the store.
- Kindness in business is oddly complicated, believes the Financial Times. We delight in it on a personal level, yet we are unsure it is a good or even necessary quality in the workplace. If we were surer, the business psychologist, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, might have struggled to write one of 2019’s most popular business books - Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders - a guide to the overconfident, reckless narcissists who so often end up in charge, suggesting perhaps that in work people prefer charisma to humility and kindness.
- Children learn what’s important to adults not by listening to what we say, but by noticing what gets our attention. And in many developed societies, parents now pay more attention to individual achievement and happiness than anything else. However much we praise kindness and caring, we’re often not actually showing our children that we value these traits. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that kindness appears to be in decline. A rigorous analysis of annual surveys of American college students showed a substantial drop from 1979 to 2009 in empathy and in imagining the perspectives of others. Over this period, students grew less likely to feel concern for people less fortunate than themselves and less bothered by seeing others treated unfairly.
- Research suggests that young people today are more likely than previous generations to see themselves as part of a wider, even global community. GoodGym, groups of runners who combine keeping fit with helping people in their communities, swelled from having 1,349 members in 2015 to almost 10,000 five years later, while The Kindness Offensive, which advocates person-to-person acts of kindness, also continues to grow and had over 6,000 members by the end of 2019.
- A study from the UK looked at dating preferences of 2,700 international students. The study found that kindness was the top trait preferred by both men and women in a lifelong partner. Looks, financial stability and a sense of humour were also important, but less so, and with differences across cultures. One interesting cultural difference that emerged from the study was that while humour was considered indispensable for men to people in all cultures, it was a "necessity" only for the Western men. It's less of a priority in Eastern cultures, suggests the research.
- Harvard Business Review pointed out that kindness appears to be contagious, highlighting the work of Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki, who documents what he calls “positive conformity.” In his research, “participants who believed others were more generous became more generous themselves”.
- For The School of Life, the kind person works with a picture of us that is sufficiently generous and complex as to make us more than just the ‘fool’ or ‘weirdo’, the ‘failure’ or ‘loser’ that we might otherwise so easily have been dismissed as. The kind person gives generously from a sense that they too will stand in need of kindness. Not right now, not over this, but in some other area. They know that self-righteousness is merely the result of a faulty memory, an inability to hold in mind – at moments when they are truly good and totally in the right – how often they have been deeply and definitively in the wrong.
- A new book from The School of Life wants to help us to be nicer: that is, less irritable, more patient, readier to listen, warmer, less prickly. Niceness may not have the immediate allure of money or fame, but it is a hugely important quality nevertheless and one that we neglect at our peril. TSOL's guidebook to the uncharted landscape of niceness, promised to gently lead readers around the key themes of this forgotten quality, to help us learn how to be charitable, how to forgive, how to be natural, and how to reassure.
- What we tend to be most short of from others is kindness of interpretation, argued The School of Life: that is, a generous perspective on the weaknesses, eccentricities, anxieties and follies that we present but are unable to win direct sympathy for. The kind person re-tells the story of our lives in a redemptive way. The kind person works with a picture of us that is sufficiently generous and complex as to make us more than just the ‘fool’ or ‘weirdo’, the ‘failure’ or ‘loser’ that we might otherwise so easily have been dismissed as.