Written by MJ Ryan, SheEO Development Guide
Twenty-eight years ago, my coworkers and I wrote a little book called Random Acts of Kindness, which spawned an international movement, particularly in schools, of folks doing kind things for strangers. It also launched me on a trajectory that I’m still pursing today—exploring the qualities we can grow in ourselves to create greater happiness, peace and connection with one another. It came about because I was asked to do a lot of media and speaking engagements and didn’t want to be a hypocrite. To talk about random acts of kindness, I had to do them—and that profoundly changed me for the better. I became more considerate, more joyful, more positive.
I see kindness as the easiest forms of generosity. It takes virtually no time, money or effort, and is such a happiness booster for the giver as well as the receiver. It can take many, many forms—from the classic feeding the parking meter of a stranger to the three kinds of kindnesses Seth Godin writes about that I came across recently. His are maybe not so easy to do, but are such important reminders of the emotional and spiritual dimensions of kindness:
“There is the kindness of ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ And the kindness of ‘I was wrong, I’m sorry.’ The small kindnesses that smooth our interactions and help other people feel as though you’re aware of them. These don’t cost us much, in fact, in most settings, engaging with kindness is an essential part of connection, engagement and forward motion.
“And then there is the kindness of dignity. Of giving someone the benefit of the doubt. The kindness of seeing someone for the person that they are and can become, and the realization that everyone, including me and you, has a noise in our heads, a story to be told, fear to be danced with and dreams to be realized.
“And there’s another: The kindness of not seeking to maximize short-term personal gain. The kindness of building something for the community, of doing work that matters, of finding a resilient, anti-selfish path forward.
“Kindness isn’t always easy or obvious, because the urgent race to the bottom, to easily measured metrics and to scarcity, can distract us. But bending the arc toward justice, toward dignity and toward connection is our best way forward.
“Kindness multiplies and it enables possibility. When we’re of service to people, we have the chance to make things better.”
Thank you, Seth, for the reminder!