Kindness is contagious. You see it all around with an act of kindness spreading at a coffee shop or with children on a mission for random acts of kindness at school. People like to be seen as good people. We like to feel like a good person. And very little can make us feel as good as performing acts of kindness or the gratitude that we feel when we receive them. This is the type of contagion that we like to know is happening around us.
So what can we do to help it spread. Well first of all, be the catalyst in your community, be a leader, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Develop the habits that will enable you to spread kindness through your everyday actions. Next, teach it. Teachers are great catalysts for change, especially among young, school-aged children who are soaking up knowledge and developing their character and personalities through their experiences in life. Teachers can really help by teaching kindness in the classroom with simple exercises.
Here’s a great way to start a daily practice of kindness for yourself, and if you’re a teacher, for your students. At our dojo, we often discuss how our Beliefs will determine our Attitude, our Attitude then determines our Actions, and our Actions will ultimately determine our Results. Whatever Results we experience will then restart the cycle by either reinforcing old Beliefs or creating new ones. In order to develop a healthier attitude it is important to pay attention to the thoughts and words we use, as the words we use, define our experience in each moment of our lives. We also have an exercise we like to call, the Optimists’ Alphabet. The exercise is fairly simple, practice finding and create a list you can refer to, of positive and enthusiastic words for each letter of the alphabet (you may have to be creative for some of the rare letters) that you will start to use when the opportunity presents itself. For example, A: Awesome, B: Bodacious, C: Courageous, etc.
To help you make the most of this exercise and to truly benefit, consider this idea. Most people, when asked how they are doing, will simply answer with an unthoughtful, “fine”, or “I’m alright”. What type of feelings do these words conjure up? For most people, they exude a feeling of being mediocre or barely adequate… the good enough, but not as good as I’d like syndrome. While there is nothing wrong with being fine or alright, if that is how you are truly feeling, these words are often just scripted responses that can often squelch or suppress more positive feelings that might be possible after a deeper reflection. So next time someone asks how you are doing, after creating your optimists’ alphabet, you might let them know you are Awesome, Alert, Anticipating greatness, or Bodacious, Brave, Bold… Get it!?
Now of course there are moments where it is more difficult to feel like some of these, and lying is rarely recommended, however, there are still ways to spread more positivity within yourself and others. Try instead, “I’m working on making it a Great day.”, or “I’m not Awesome yet, but I’m working on it.”. Spreading kindness can be done by big acts that inspire others through grand and bold examples, or through small habits that are felt through a consistent interaction with someone or a group.
Another, and more powerful way to use the optimist alphabet and spread kindness, is through the positive praise of others. How would your students or friends feel if instead of getting another “Good Job”, they receive your praise for having a Grandiose idea, or to know that you thought they were Outstanding? The words we use have tremendous power, over us, as well as those we come into contact with. By creating more optimism we develop a culture that makes it natural for kindness to spread. Having an Optimists’ Alphabet to work from, can create the energy and emotion that will often develop the habits and synergy needed to keep the spread of kindness, an epidemic rather than a momentary affect.
Kindness Assignment 1: Brainstorm and record your alphabet
Kindness Assignment 2: Focus on the words you speak about yourself
Kindness Assignment 3: See what a positive impact you can have on others just by changing the words you speak to them
Kindness Assignment 4: Teach others to focus on the language they use and the experience they present when doing so
-Now go forth and exercise your kindness muscles. Make acts of kindness a daily habit. Make someone’s day and help to create a better world by being a Superhero for Kindness.-
(PS. Every time you share a Think Kindness post you make a ninja smile. Click below to help us share our Think Kindness posts.)