6 Reasons Kindness Matters in Work and in Life
I’m sitting in my study on a glorious almost-summer morning. The coastal fog is still swirling in its morning dance with the sun. “Who will win today?”, they seem to say as they challenge each other daily (I’m rooting for the sun!). My heart is full from the beauty I see from this hillside home perched high above the San Francisco Bay. I am so grateful for my life, and now I want to be kind today. I want to be compassionate. With myself. With friends. With the woman three thousand miles away who has become so important in my life and my heart. And with total strangers.
I reflect a lot on the importance of love in our lives, and all the offshoots of love like compassion, empathy, gratitude, hope, inspiration, faith, joy, and indeed kindness. My father was a very kind man. A friend to so many. It was only a tough, hardened stranger who was not melted by my Dad’s warmth and kind heart.
I want to be kind today, kinder than yesterday. I want to help people who are struggling in their lives — with a moment or two of lightness, of care, of sensitivity. I want to be kind today. Because kindness matters. Here are 6 reasons to be kind today:
1. Kindness is a powerful emotion to uplift our mood. A simple act of care can switch our perspective from dark to light, from hopeless to hopeful, from reactive to creative.
2. Sincere kindness from the heart triggers a cascade of vitality and health-inducing biochemicals in our body, at least 1400, which re-energizes both giver and receiver. Now research has shown that at least 600 genes that are designed to protect our health and longevity are actually triggered to express when we are feeling kind and compassionate. Kindness makes us healthier.
3. Kindness can interrupt a stress cycle so both giver and receiver can reset and move forward. Sometimes we get locked in patterns of reactivity, fear or upset. A kind act can not only defuse the negative emotions, but in that process a window opens for more positive solutions.
4. Kindness slows aging, especially on your face Let’s get down to the bottom line here: worry, fear, anxiety, and self-centeredness are all accelerators of aging. Those worry lines that can become deep grooves on someones’ forehead or around the eyes don’t have to be there! It’s in our power to change it. The stressful emotions we all experience separate us from the kindness and love of others. They create walls of a prison we are now the inhabitant of. No one wins. A simple act of kindness can dissolve the worry so instead of aging needlessly we can feel the forward momentum of hope come alive.
5. Kindness creates loyalty. Whether you’re dealing with a negative customer, an irate client, a colleague having a very bad day, or a boss who is overwhelmed, kindness can be that special gift the other person is not expecting, so they never forget. Companies that teach genuine kindness to their frontline staff have happier customers, who want to talk about what a great company you are. Who come back for more of what you have. I love going in any Apple store anywhere in the world as I know without any doubt that my problems and my ignorance of techy stuff will be treated with kindness and helpfulness, bringing me relief, satisfaction, and the desire to go back and tell others. Kindness matters, to the bottom line.
6. Kindness just feels better. Ever faced with a choice to ignore a person in need, like a homeless person with their cardboard sign and a hand out, or someone struggling to solve a problem at work, or a fellow passenger struggling to lift their heavy carry-on into the overhead compartment on the plane. So you stretch out of your comfort zone to lend a helping hand, and the joy and relief on the face of the recipient of your kind gesture just made your day!
I want to be kind today. How about you?
Bruce’s clients include Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, Stanford University, the NHS (UK), HP, NASA, Boeing, L’Oreal, and the Samueli Institute. He is co‐author of the book "From Chaos to Coherence: The Power to Change Performance" and the Harvard Business Review article “Pull the Plug on Stress”. Bruce has been a faculty member of the Stanford Executive Program since 1997, Stanford’s Health Improvement Program since 2008, and was named a Top 50 Thought Leader in Personal Excellence. He has been interviewed for or written in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Inc. magazine, Fast Company, Modern Healthcare, Leadership Excellence, and medical journals such as Stress Medicine as well as many other business and health publications. A series of major health challenges convinced Bruce to transition to a variety of new roles more closely matching his passions. A former actor/singer/dancer on Broadway, he has revived his singing and dancing skills as a “keynote performer” helping audiences align your work with what is most alive and inspired in your heart.