Research by UCLA scientists has shown that mindfulness and kindness actually alter the behavior of genes, turning down those that promote inflammation, which can lead to heart disease or certain cancers, and turning up the activity of genes that protect. In fact, UCLA has now opened the first institute in the world to study kindness. The purpose is to spread kindness and promote a more humane world. Most religions and individual top listed values embrace kindness and concern for others. His Holiness The Dali Lama frequently states that his religion is kindness and that compassion, kindness and empathy towards others are essential for our own well-being. OUR OWN well-being, not just the recipient of our kindness.
A recent article summarized that a top priority for 90% of parents is to raise caring children, while the children state their parents’ main value is achievement. It’s not just what parents say to their children that matters, but it’s the behavior that they model. This is the behavior that children learn and replicate. Focusing on achievement rather than nurturing kindness sends a powerful message as does not demonstrating kindness and caring acts.
Of more concern is that the research also indicates that parents actually discourage kindness, thinking it might be perceived as an act of weakness in a competitive world. It is no surprise considering how these adults are probably evaluated at work! The truth is that kindness and compassion are actually strengths, and positive psychology research has identified these as elements of the 24 strengths identified from around the world.
What if we changed the negative view, or sign of weakness and instead emphasized the strength and positivity? Here are a few thoughts, but what others would you add?
- Collaborate with HR professionals at your organization to completely revamp performance evaluations or at least add core values, including kindness, and expected behaviors.
- Plan a kindness journal initiative, asking that at the end of the day employees reflect on what they did to care for, be kind to, or help someone? It could be a smile, a hello, holding a door open, etc., no huge acts yet hugely significant.
- Acknowledge kind acts you witness and don’t tolerate bullying of any kind.
- Forget fitness and weight loss competitions and consider kindness and gratitude initiatives instead. Kindness, gratitude, compassion and empathy are our innate goodness, but many adults have gotten rusty at practicing these – perhaps complacent.
- Change the pervious bullet by offering workshops to strengthen these qualities. These core qualities and skills can be learned or re-learned with practice instead of just being part of a poster on a wall.
- Partner with others at your organization to foster psychological safety, ensuring that all stakeholders have a voice, are valued, are supported, and work without fear.
- Demonstrate the importance of kindness, care and compassion by asking our children how they were kind today. Let’s foster the next generation to be authentic to their true nature. Ask children first before about kind acts or acts of caring before asking how they did on a test or athletic practice. Adam Grant stated, “Children are naturally helpful—even the smallest ones appear to show an innate understanding of others’ needs.” From, Stop Trying To Raise Successful Kids
What would you add to this list? Please add or email us with questions or comments.