A Universal Thread: Kindness

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    If there is a thread that weaves through culture, religion, and most of humanity it’s the need to see, to feel, and to hear kindness. Today is World Kindness Day, a day we wish to both recognize and celebrate. We want to do our part in weaving that passionate red thread of Canadian kindness through you and yours. 

    The Dalai Lama Project asked children a simple question: What is kindness? Their replies are both heart warming and honest. 

    World Kindness Day was launched in 1988 by The World Kindness Movement, an organization formed at a 1997 conference in Tokyo. The mission of the World Kindness Movement and World Kindness Day is to create a kinder world by inspiring individuals and nations towards greater kindness. There are currently over 28 nations involved in The World Kindness Movement; one of those countries being Canada via The Kindness Foundation. We are so grateful to have connected with the president himself, Mr. Mike McEwan. 

    We can have an effect, a positive effect on the people who share our daily walk. 

    Mike McEwan is a former educator from Delta, B.C. He became connected with The Kindness Foundation when he was contacted to help organize a Kindness Rocks Concert; a concert built around kindness. Five Kindness Concerts later Mike was called to meet with the organizers (for which he presumed to be about another concert), and soon Mike found himself on the board of the Kindness Foundation. He is now the president. 

    We asked Mike, “Why Kindness?”

    Kindness is a universally held value. It crosses all religions and cultures. Who could make an argument against kindness, and yet, kindness in our society is diminishing. 

    Sometimes I think that the problem with kindness is that it’s so simple. And actually that’s one of the best things about kindness. It’s simple. It’s simple to do, and most of the time costs nothing, but the effect can be incredible. And I think that because it’s so simple, it’s often overlooked by companies and institutions and people in general, as an important thing, “that can’t solve our problems,” but I think it can go a long way to solving all kinds of problems. 

    Mike acknowledged that societal change has taken away accountability and a sense of community that used to exist. He remembers life when he grew up being more of a tight-knit community and that being respectful was the norm. Behaviours have changed as communities have grown. Accountability has faded. He referenced moments such as entering an elevator or passing people on the street, that people don’t say “Hello!” as much and that engagement with others has dwindled. He challenges this norm and aims to elevate kindness. His tone changed when we spoke of the Vancouver Olympics. 

    Because we invited the world, we became accountable. Because we invited the world, we acted the way we wanted to be. 

    Mike knows that unlike the past, both parents often have to work now. There’s not always a primary caregiver at home. Because of this, the parent-child contact time is reduced and children often get their parents when their tank is empty – bent and tattered from a hard day at work (even if they are working from home). For children, self-regulation is best learned eye-to-eye, face-to-face.

    Photo: Ben Wicks on Unsplash

    If you want to affect change, teach the children.

    The Kindness Foundation focuses on education. Providing educators with nine components of kindness (courage, compassion, generosity, gratitude, inclusion, integrity, optimism, respect, and self-awareness) helps educators target emotional intelligence. So that the curriculum is accessible to all, it is now free. Win!

    “Do not train children to learn by force and harshness but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each”Plato – 428 – 348 BC

    Mike speaks to the fact that sometimes we get to see how our being kind affects others, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes kindness comes back to us, and we can see the ripple effect, and other times we don’t. He wears a bracelet that says Kindness Counts; one way he keeps himself accountable to walk his talk. 

    To close out, we asked mike to play a little game of “Finish the Sentence.” 

    Kindness feels like … joy.

    Kindness sounds like … laughter.

    Kindness look like … love.

    When I see kindness I want to … be kind.

    When I grow older I hope … When I grow even older I hope people treat me kindly as my capacities diminish. I hope they are kind and patient with me.

    At the Kindness Foundation, we hope to create … a kinder world, one kind act at time.  

    What might you do today to demonstrate kindness? Let us know in the comments.
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    We want to spread the good word. If you have a story of kindness you’d like to share, please let us do that for you. Click here.

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