Kindness

How to Be More Gracious

The word “Gracious” is not one we hear too often anymore. Yet today this word still conjures images of a person we'd like to have in our lives. Adding a touch of graciousness to ourselves is a great way to benefit both yourself and the community, and it is something that you can do without any special training or skill. Here are three amazing ways you can show graciousness in your day to day life.

 

Show forgiveness to others

In today's world, forgiving others almost feels like a taboo. We live in an elitist culture, and social media as well as our work culture has driven us to feel the need to strive for perfection. This has touched every aspect of our lives, from parenting to pets. 

Our friends, family and co-workers make mistakes from time to time, just as we do. Chiding your coworker for being late (especially without hearing the circumstances as to why they were late), correcting their parenting style on a Facebook photo, or making someone feel like a bad dog owner for feeding the wrong foods are all things we do without thinking of it.

Instead, consider a more forgiving attitude. Understanding that people make mistakes and not embarrassing them over it is a salve on the spirit that they will remember long after the moment has passed.

two-hearts-drawn-on-a-chalkboard-PJTKJAK.jpg

Be a little more thoughtful

Maya Angelou once said, “They may forget what you said, but they'll never forget how you made them feel.” When ever you interact with someone, you are leaving behind a memory of how you made another person feel.

Fortunately, you don't need to be over the top to show thoughtfulness in your day to day life. It can be as simple as smiling at the doorman, and saying hello. It can be sending flowers or a hot meal to someone who has lost a loved one. It can be making sure your co-worker gets off 15 minutes early so he can go pick up his kid, or washing your kids favorite Minecraft shirt so he can wear it again.

Thoughtfulness is a wonderful way to help develop graciousness in your life.

 

Show gratitude for what others do for you

While we aren't supposed to expect a spotlight on the kind things we do in life, it can feel like we are invisible when no one ever thanks you for a task done well. Remembering to thank the store clerk for helping you find whole wheat pasta, or a co-worker who saved you from having to speak to a chatty client for an extra 30 minutes, remembering to thank a person for what they've done can be the highlight of their day. Being thankful also helps others to know that you notice their actions, and appreciate them.

There are dozens of other ways to show graciousness, but these three skills are foundation skills in graciousness. Through adding these skills into your day to day life, you can help the world to become a better place, and make more people smile when they see your face.

The Kind Feed: How Social Media Can Be Repurposed for Good

I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again. – Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

 

Social media has become a source of anxiety for many users. Today’s social media has become a surrogate platform for news, activism, debate, and the sharing of ideas and experiences. Second to those newfound purposes, it’s a platform for social connection. Joining a site under the pretense of social connection and falling into the habit of using it for other purposes takes its toll.

What makes most social media sites less-friendly from social connection in this day is, in part, the lack of kindness expressed by users. People are taking their aggression and bad moods out on their social media feeds, whether it be in the form of: heated arguments, pointing out negative traits on public posts, or seeking to disagree with the provocative (or otherwise) posts that their friends make. This is turning what should be a fun, friendly environment into a platform filled with toxicity and negativity.

To be fair, it’s not exclusively the fault of the users. There are other reasons why negativity has found such a home in social media. But not being to blame isn’t enough to protect users from the effects that this influx of negativity causes. Frankly, people are losing their sense of empathy and their ability to see the person on the other screen as a living, breathing human being. People are being affected from the small scale in their personal daily lives, to the large scale on a societal level. With 2.46 billion users across all popular platforms of social media, that’s a pretty large wing span with which to spread a wave of negativity. It has to change.

Hope isn’t lost. The positivity movement is a strong one. A light has been cast on toxic practices on social media, and people aren’t standing for it anymore. There are benefits to spreading kindness on social media, not the least of which is undoing some of the toxicity that has previously been spread.

Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr

The Personal Level

On a smaller scale, social media affects users in a major way. People are spending massive amounts of time on their phones; this time is measured in hours where a slightly more than a decade ago it was measured in minutes. However, the time spent on social media and on our phones is a topic for another day- the focus here is about what people can do with social media by being kind, and how it can benefit them in return.

The draw to social media is a simple and fruitful one. It allows one to keep a connection alive with people who otherwise may have easily drifted away, such as college friends, high school buddies, coworkers from a former job, distant relatives, and the like. It also offers an easy approach to making new friends with a wealth of groups for just about any topic or hobby under the sun. Simply put, it’s easy to keep these connections alive without needing to actually put effort forth on an individual basis. This might sound negative, but the result is that people are able to keep a larger community of people around them than they used to.

Beyond keeping connections and making new ones, social media gives people a stage with which to stand on and share their lives with an audience… only, unlike an actor, they get to choose their audience and thus don’t need to share fiction. It’s also a place for things like: new recipes, local places, the opening of new cafes or restaurants, cute videos, art, and more. Seeing these things on a feed give little bursts of happiness and intrigue right at one’s finger tips!

Social media also provides a break from the fast pace of real life. It’s a way to press pause on the world’s happenings all around. In a way, it’s an escape. But unlike reading or video games, it’s an escape into the real-world. The virtual real-world. Things are more real than in a novel on social media even though the happenings are detached from one’s own life. People can breathe. They can read what their friends are up to, the updates on loved ones’ lives, and see what people are sharing and talking about. It’s a way to keep up with the world while pressing pause on one’s own. This break helps relieve stress.

However, that break can also cause stress if people aren’t using it to spread positivity and kindness. People have to be mindful of how they’re spending their time on social media in order to put the kindness out that they want to receive. For example, scrolling past an update of a friend getting a new job or a relationship announcement or the like without engaging leaves friends wanting for that friendly connection. So, when it comes the time for that person to post good news, the wanting friend doesn’t feel inclined to engage. Social media, in this way, is give and take. Like any gift, giving and receiving feels good. Missing those opportunities diminishes the experience as a whole.

That same idea of giving and taking works with what people choose to share. If one only shares bad news or politically charged posts, it’s going to warn others off engaging. This makes social media feel competitive and stressful and not at all like a “break”. Putting kindness and good news and lighthearted posts out into the social sphere feels like giving a gift and doesn’t generate any stress or anxiety.

Social media is recreational. It’s supposed to be a positive experience, it’s supposed to feel good. It provides people with a break from their hectic lives and opens up a chance to have fun and give or take a smile. Beyond that, social media has an even greater power when it’s not used for negativity.

 

The Larger Scale

Without needing a passport, users can travel the world. Social media doesn’t require a pass through customs or a long flight. It doesn’t require exhausted research and years of study. With social media, users can connect to their communities, their culture, and the world.

Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr

For one, there’s opportunity to learn about people from all over the world and connect with people from different walks of life even in one’s own community. There’s plenty to learn and plenty of people to engage with. This openness to other cultures and experiences breeds empathy and understanding, plus offers a type of education that can’t be obtained in traditional schools. 

Social media also offers a way to contribute to the world in various ways. People can share information to spread the word about things that are worth talking about, they can launch campaigns to get people involved in local and international problems and put efforts forward to take action to solve those problems, and they can contribute to charities and funding projects that are meaningful.

On an individual basis, people may not be changing the world by way of social media. But for those who recognize these amazing opportunities that social media presents them with, the combined efforts pack a punch. Petitions from social media have turned to law, they’ve prompted action, they’ve made real change in the world. Fundraisers have helped everything from an individual recovering from a medical procedure and dealing with the financial fallout from it, to helping bring much needed resources to underprivileged societies. The reach is literally global.

The ball is in the user’s court, every user. The world is within reach, but how will the opportunity be seized? Often times, comments on popular posts show the clash between users of different backgrounds. But that negativity gives a lasting impression that spreads. If people take this opportunity to engage and learn and spread kindness, the world becomes a more productive and more friendly place.

 

Kindness Doesn’t Work Alone

Lucky for the users who believe in kindness and using social media for friendliness and positivity, they’re not alone. Tech gurus behind platforms like Twitter and Facebook are aware of the trends behind their services, and they’re paying attention.

For example, Facebook conducted a study in 2013 that analyzed over three million posts. They separated the posts by whether the content was positive, negative, or neutral. What they found was exactly what was covered above: when people see positive posts, they post more positive things. In other words, negativity breeds negativity, and positivity breeds positivity. Positivity also leads people to be more active on Facebook, and to engage more with their friends. 

Twitter, on the other hand, found that their algorithm is being taken advantage of with negative posts. Twitter works by showing users posts that it thinks users will want to see the most, and these posts are ones that have been engaged with the most with replies, retweets, and favorites. However, as any user on Twitter can attest to- Twitter users like to argue and are likely to engage with something that they disagree with. This results in negative and controversial posts, even if they contain misinformation, to be projected to a wider user base (even if the truth is more positive).

The fact that Twitter and Facebook are using resources to look into how their users are using their social media platforms, and how their algorithms for the media feeds affects the user’s experience, is good news.  It means that these tech giants are paying attention. Presumably, they want users to have a more positive experience. If positive experiences result in more activity, it stands to reason that they’ll do whatever they can to make their platforms more friendly, less toxic places for users to be.

It’s understandable that associating kindness and positivity with social media isn’t always an easy connection to draw. After all, social media breeds trolls, harassment opportunities, and even negativity from people that matter. It’s easy to get lost in this labyrinth of negativity, and many often do.

Source: Flickr

Source: Flickr

How can you make social media a kinder place for yourself?

  1. If you see a post you don’t like, stop yourself and think before responding. Ask yourself if your reply to this post is going to make the difference you want it to. Will your opinion change their minds, or just start an argument? Will a sarcastic reply make a valid point, or just make somebody feel bad? Will you contribute to negativity? Then, ask yourself if that’s how you want yourself to be portrayed to the world.

  2. If you’re in a difficult situation, find the high road and take it. Engaging in negativity won’t create a positive result for either participant. It’s best to end the conversation on a high note and walk away.

  3. Consciously put kindness into the world. Offer genuine compliments when you see the opportunity, congratulate somebody on a new life event, send an old friend a random message and let them know you’re thinking of them. Before you post or comment, always ask yourself first, “does this contribute to a kinder world?”

  4. Think of how others see you. Sure, you might have had a bad day and wanted to blow of steam by trash talking some stranger on a random post. But people don’t see that context. They only see the comment. This is an impression that they’ll hold on to. It’s good to make sure you have control over the impression you want to give to others.

Kindness and empathy are things that are often missing from today’s social media world. While social media has largely become a negative place, it still provides an opportunity for each and every user to put kindness into their own world and the world around them.

 

Image source: Flickr

A Guide to Loving Yourself (and Others)

Uncovering the secrets to a happy and fulfilled life, not only for you but the community around you.

 

Living a happy and fulfilled life can be very important, although some people forget just how essential it is. If you are a happy person, many other aspects of your life simply fall into place, including good health, relationships, and even career opportunities and more. Sadly, many people struggle to love themselves and to take their life to that happy place where it deserves to be. This guide will help you uncover the many benefits you will experience if you start loving yourself, as well as giving you some amazing tips that will help you make a difference for you and others!

 

The first rule of happiness: understanding that you deserve it!

 

There is an old saying that goes like this: “You can’t really learn how to love others if you don’t learn how to love yourself first.” In other words, love and happiness can start with you! If you subconsciously don’t think that you are worthy of love and happiness, you might struggle to achieve these feelings. It is important to change your mindset, and become aware that you do deserve to be happy.

Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr

There are many reasons why some people struggle to accept that they have the right to feel happy. Perhaps, they have committed some mistakes in the past, caused harm to others or done something that they are not proud of. At other times, they might feel trapped in a routine that makes them feel sad and unfulfilled, such as a dead-ended job or a poisonous relationship.

 

Regardless of the case, there is always a way out, even if it might not look that way from your perspective.

 

Mistakes are not a failure: they are an opportunity.

 

In the first case, always remember this: if you have made some mistakes or did things you aren’t proud of, awareness is the first step to right the wrongs. The fact that you understand what you did wrong and feel sad about it is a good thing: it is the first step towards changing your ways and becoming the best person you can be. Your past mistakes aren’t a sign of failure: they can be seen as an opportunity for you to get better, and become a positive influence for the people you love and for the whole community. A good example? Many people who have struggled with alcoholism, drug abuse, and other issues tend to get more involved with social causes because giving back to others make them feel happy. People who have had the opportunity to turn their own lives around are well-aware that hope is not fluff, but a real possibility. This is why they can be so committed to helping others experience the same positive change that helped them become happy and productive. This is one of the reasons why many amazing success stories come from struggles and rough beginnings.

 

In short, to be really happy, you need to accept your wrongs and embrace who you really are. This way, you will finally be able to give yourself the happiness you deserve and love others around you, contributing to a better world.

 

You are never really trapped, even if you can’t see a way out.

 

As mentioned earlier, many people might not manage to be happy because they aren’t satisfied with their situation. They might feel stuck in a bad job they don’t like or feel like being prisoners of a very unhealthy relationship. When people experience such situations, they often fall victim of depression and anxiety.

Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr

These mental states are like a black hole, which seems to be able to suck all of your productive energy. When everything fades to black in your mind, it is easy to ignore the facts: most problems in life are absolutely fixable with the right attitude!

 

Are you not happy with your relationship? Cut it off. There’s plenty of fish in the sea. Do you hate your job? Your life could be filled with plenty of opportunities if you are determined to pursue something better. 

 

The best way to become happy and start loving yourself is to…kick yourself out of a dark time! Realize that most problems are really not as bad as they might originally seem, and if you take control of your own life, you are going to be happier and finally have the opportunity to live the life you want to live.

 

Nonetheless, change is not easy. Breaking off from a poisonous relationship can be very scary because most people are afraid of being alone. They are haunted by questions such as “What if I am never going to find someone else?”. In much the same way, people are afraid to pursue other opportunities in life, because they might believe finding another job, or a different path might be extremely difficult.

 

This negative mindset won’t get you anywhere. In order to love yourself, you need to be proactive.

 

Happiness is not something that life will hand you on a silver plate. Even with all the money in the world and the best partner in your life, happiness is not a given: you need to allow it to reach deep within your heart, mind, and soul, and finally start to shape your life as a truly positive influence.

 

Happiness breeds positive change.

Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr

Being happy and loving yourself is also the next first step towards a better community, and ultimately, a better world. Loving yourself might sound like a very individualistic thing, but as explained earlier, you can’t really love others without starting from yourself first. If you embrace a positive attitude towards your own life, you will certainly be able to influence others to do the same.

 

You don’t need grandiose gestures to change the world. Even a little day-to-day act of kindness has the power to inspire, motivate, change and…love!

 

Image source: Flickr

The Hippocratic Oath for the Everyday Person

The Hippocratic Oath is the oath taken by doctors to do no intentional harm to those that they treat. It’s a simple concept, but why reserve it for doctors?

 

Kindness has an immense power to make us feel better about ourselves and lead happier lives. Being on the receiving end of kindness also has its obvious benefits. But kindness takes effort and forethought. Because of this, it’s taken a back seat to other forms of instant gratification like scrolling through social media, taking selfies, and talking negatively about people. These things feel rewarding in the moment, but in the long run, they offer us no tangible benefit. It’s time for a change. We need to be kind to each other again.

Source:  Ritesh Agarwal

As humans, we’re born into kindness in the form of nurturing. Whether this is done by one’s mother, a caretaker, a labor and delivery nurse, or some other positive figure in one’s life, we all learn to grow and function under the kind eye of a nurturing person. We’re the only mammals who aren’t born self-reliant creatures. We need others. This never changes. We never stop needing others, whether we care to admit that or not. 

 

So, if kindness is literally programmed into our DNA, why is it so difficult for us to make a regular habit of?

 

I blame the internet.

 

The internet makes it easy to be unkind because there’s always a veil between you and the person you’re harming. You are causing harm, they just aren’t aware of it. Many people don’t consider the mean things they say to be harmful because the person isn’t aware of it. But they don’t need to be. The act of saying it or thinking it is enough to cause negativity to multiply within yourself. That’s a toxicity that prevents you from growing and meeting your potential for happiness in your own life. Is it worth it? The instant gratification of saying something negative about somebody else to make yourself feel good isn’t worth it in the long-run. But foregoing that instant gratification is what makes kindness so difficult for us.

 

In order to become a kind person, it takes practice. Negativity and cruelty are like any other negative habits. They have to be broken and replaced with positive habits. You have to be able to put your ego and cheap thrills aside and find your own motivation for being more positive. Once you do this, it’s smooth sailing.

Source:  Jojo Nicdao

Source: Jojo Nicdao

When we’re kind by habit, we gain more benefits than just the obvious increase in happiness and positivity. We improve our physical health, as well. It’s true! When we’re kind, we’re less stressed and the body releases less of the stress hormone cortisol. This keeps our heart healthier and helps to slow down the aging process. It also helps us improve our relationships and connections with others. When we’re negative and cruel, the people that overhear us or are in the conversation with us will take that personally. Even if they’re laughing along with you, the subconscious will raise red flags and they won’t be able to trust you as much. After all, if somebody sees what you talk about when somebody isn’t there, they’re going to wonder if you do the same to them when they aren’t there. Plus, it’s said that “your vibe attracts your tribe”. If you’re happy and kind, it stands to reason that you’ll befriend other people along that same wavelength. Happiness begets happiness. There’s more for everybody!

 

When you’re trying to practice kindness more in your own life, it helps to remember the “golden rule”. Remember the one that you probably heard a million and a half times in grade school? The golden rule states that you should only treat others how you’d like to be treated. When you’re learning to be kind, it helps to ask yourself how you’d feel if you were on the receiving end of your statement or action. Doing this will give you a perspective about your behavior and will help you to see what’s right and wrong when you understand how your actions and statements affect people. This is how you learn to take the Hippocratic Oath in your own life. You do no harm. You shall not cause any sadness or pain to others intentionally.

 

From there, you can keep moving forward with kindness. There’s never too much kindness in the world. Try incorporating small acts of kindness into your day every day. Give somebody a compliment, pay for somebody’s coffee in line behind you, catch up with an old friend, offer to help somebody carry their groceries to their car. Whatever you do, spreading kindness in the world will never be a mistake. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

 

Image source: Flickr

How to Incorporate Fitness Into Your Daily Life

Living a healthy and active life is particularly important, yet not many people are able to spend time training or working out. Many of us are stuck at work, often performing sedentary tasks that involve sitting on a chair and staring at a screen for many hours a day. Others might feel like they are too old or out of shape to start practicing fitness regularly. Regardless of your particular situation, there are many things you can do to incorporate fitness into your daily life and start noticing massive improvements.

Source:  Dave Rosenblum

Make time! 

Are you concerned that you can't spend too much time to dedicate to your wellness? If that’s the case, make some time! Waking up earlier than usual is a great way to gain some time without detracting any from your day-to-day activity. Simply set your alarm one hour earlier and use the time to do some exercises, go for an energizing morning run or have yourself a nutritious breakfast!

 

The gym is not the only way.

Source:  Adam Bautz

Source: Adam Bautz

Practicing fitness does not necessarily mean that you have to head over to the gym. There are many things you can do to stay physically active at home, at the office or elsewhere. Walking is a perfect example: it provides a lot of significant health benefits, such as improving blood circulation and preventing heart disease, and it is accessible to people of all walks of life - from youngsters to seniors!

 

In addition to walking and running around your block, there are a wide variety of fitness activities that you could practice without the need of going to the gym. Even 10-15 minutes of yoga a day could go a long way! If you are lucky enough to own a swim spa or a hot tub, you could also use it to stay active by practicing water-based exercises, such as stretches or aqua gym. The possibilities are endless!

 

Image source: Flickr

Acts of Kindness: Individual and Institutional

As they say, an act of kindness can truly go a long way. If you are looking for inspiration and to learn more about how people are actively trying to make the world a better place by being more kind and positive, you can always browse through the web to learn more about how people across the world have made headlines…by making a difference!

A good example? A young teenager named Salvador Gomez Colon recently became very sad when he learned about the troublesome living conditions of people who have been hit by the natural disaster that affected Puerto Rico. For this reason, he decided to take action. Salvador decided to start a fundraising campaign on the web, and managed to raise a lot of money, enough to buy over 1400 solar-powered lamps for the people of Puerto Rico, who are still struggling to cope with power shortages.

It’s not only about people: governments and administrations can be kinder too! For example, the city of Los Angeles, in California (USA) recently announced that people will be able to donate some money to the homeless in the local community. This kind and uplifting gesture is one of the many things LA is doing trying to help people without a home or a job, and improve their quality of life.

These are only some of the many positive and uplifting gestures that people do every day across the world. Thankfully, positive thinking transcends religious beliefs, political credos, ethnicities and social status…everyone can be kinder, no matter who they are or where they come from! 

Image source: h080

In Kind Spotlight: The Empowerment Plan

The Empowerment Plan is a nonprofit that is located in Detroit, Michigan. The organization was founded by Veronika Scott when she was in a class studying product design, where the class was focused on finding actual needs. Already having noticed a population with needs, the homeless of Detroit, she was inspired to design a coat to help serve that community. It functions as a waterproof coat, sleeping bag, and over the shoulder bag.

Her organization is located in Detroit, manufactures its product in Detroit, and hires employees from the homeless shelters of Detroit. The organization accepts donations, makes the coats, and then distributes them to the homeless.

The Empowerment Plan is an organization that we'd like to shine a light on for the important work that they do to help an underserved population- the homeless.

Source

Study: Positivity Makes Your Kids Smarter

A recent study from Stanford University suggests that positivity, when it relates to parenting, can lead to greater academic achievement and learning amongst your children. 

To quote from the study:

"Using a large behavioral sample of 240 children, we found that positive attitude toward math uniquely predicted math achievement, even after we accounted for multiple other cognitive-affective factors."

"we found that positive attitude was associated with increased engagement of the hippocampal learning-memory system."

Source: Beau Maes

Source: Beau Maes

This means that styles of parenting that focus on positivity - like rewarding good behavior vs. punishing bad behavior - can potentially give your child an early advantage in learning.

The study also suggests that there is a greater indicator for ability in math, and since math comprehension is an in demand skill in today and the future's job market, you can better prepare your child for the future just by incorporating positivity into your parenting style.

Image source: Flickr

Watch: Positivity and the Power of Choice

In this TEDx speech on the power of positivity, Samantha Rea breaks down how you can incorporate positive thinking into your daily life.

She begins be acknowledging that there are problems in the world, that it would be impossible to ignore them, and that it is unreasonable to think that simple positivity can solve every problem. Her argument, however, is that positive thinking can be an essential stepping stone to real world action, and lays the groundwork for people to begin to tackle problems.

By keeping a belief that things can and will get better when things seem hopeless, you immediately help yourself to start changing things. When you look for positive things, and choose to have a good day (as described in the video), you begin to focus on the good things in life and not the negatives- which leads to an increased quality of life.

Source

Living a Positive Life: What are the Health Benefits?

Being kind, polite and positive are often some of the most sought-after qualities for anyone. However, living an uplifting light with a radiant attitude is not solely a way to make people like you. A positive outlook on life could indeed enhance your health and help you live longer and better. Can positivity really improve your health? Read on to find out more.

 

Improve your physical health.

 

Being kind and positive often means that you are less prone to getting stressed. As you might know, stress could lower the quality of your life in many ways, causing a variety of physical and mental illnesses. Studies have linked stress to depression and anxiety, as well as to heart disease and high blood pressure. A happier life can help you prevent such problems.

Source:  Evan Blaser

Source: Evan Blaser

Improve your mental health.

 

Being kind and positive often means to be psychologically grounded. In other words, by living life with a positive attitude, you might be able to fight depression, stress, anxiety and other issues that might affect your emotional and mental health. 

 

In conclusion:

 

Living life with a kind and positive attitude can certainly help you with a wide variety of perks and benefits!

 

Image source: Flickr