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Clarify Kindness

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1. What does Kindness look like to you?

2. Ask 3 people what Kindness means to them. In thinking about their answers, what stood out to you?

3. Here’s what we’ve heard:

  • Sargun H: Kindness is a reflection of what lives in our heart.

  • Brett A: Kindness isn't just the act of being nice to those who show sorrow, sadness, or vulnerability on the outside, but also showing compassion for those who don't outwardly show these signs, and may be hurting anyways.

  • Jesse J: Kindness is the ability to show up with the warmest, half-full resource I have in any moment.
  • Jenny A: Kindness is choosing to show love when you have a choice between choosing to love someone or choosing to be indifferent - it may take on different forms to different people, but ultimately, it’s showing you care.
  • Tracy G: Kindness is leaving everyone, everything, and every place better than you found it.
  • James L: Kindness is treating others as a human being first and foremost.
  • Marissa D: Going out of your way to make somebody feel cared of and loved.
  • Rebecca L: Doing good and seeing the good in others through small intentional acts without expecting anything in return.
  • Leanne D: Kindness is treating someone with love no matter the situation, environment, or history.
  • Moira A: Kindness is the ability to be sad and still care for those in a worse position than you.
  • Tim T: Follow my wife's example.
  • Ron I: Kindness is foregoing some portion your own comfort, so that others may find comfort.
  • Lesa A: To be kind is to be tender, gentle, understanding, sympathetic, and sweet.

4. Which do you like best?

5. Who taught you your definition of Kindness?

6. Here's our definition:

Kindness is a deliberate choice to act with generosity and consideration to bring positivity and encouragement to people.

6. Our favorite quote on Kindness:

“If a person seems wicked, do not cast him away. Awaken him with your words, elevate him with your deeds, repay his injury with your kindness. Do not cast him away; cast away his wickedness.” -Lao Tzu

7. What is your favorite quote?

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8. Nice vs. Kind

Nice is reactive, Kindness is proactive.

There is a distinction that is critical for the real practice of Kindness in our life. Oftentimes we confuse and conflate Nice and Kind. The difference between the two is clarifying and motivating.

practice kindness

Here’s the problem: everyone thinks they are nice. And, subconsciously, this gives us permission to settle. Nice is unproductive. It doesn’t move the needle forward. It doesn’t shift the status quo.

Why? Nice is easy - it is reactive at its best and self-serving at its worst. If someone is nice to me, I will probably be nice back to them. If I agree with you, I’ll be nice to you. If you drop something, I might pick it up (especially if I know I might get something in return like a thank you, your approval, or your number).

You get the point. Nice is easy because it is “I”-oriented. Do I have time? Do I like you? Do I feel like it? Do I have anything to lose?

Kindness is different - Kindness is proactive. Someone doesn’t have to drop something in order for us to lift them up or encourage them. Something bad shouldn’t have to happen in order for us to practice making people feel good! Where Nice is “I”-oriented, Kindness is heart-oriented. It says, “we all need attention and appreciation. We are all deserving of generosity and hope.” It moves beyond feelings and conveniences. It is a deliberate choice to bring encouragement, support, or appreciation to yourself or others.

When we align ourselves with the deep purpose of Kindness, it motivates action even when we don’t “feel like it.” We extend ourselves beyond convenience and comfort (which happens to be the space wherein we grow).

Nice steps back while Kindness steps up. Nice happens when there is time, Kindness happens because we make time. Nice expects something in return, while Kindness is free from expectation.

To put it simply: Nice people don’t change the world, but Kind people can. So we better get to work!

 

 
 
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Reflect on Kindness

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Kindness is a practice.
by Houston Kraft

About 7 years ago, I was on a plane next to a woman who, I immediately noted, had more energy than I did. She was fidgety and enthused. I was tired and wanted to take a nap. But before I could go into “ignore mode,” she tapped me on the shoulder to introduce herself.

“Hi, my name is Helga!”

Here we go - nap time officially delayed. She kept asking me questions and, eventually, it came up that I had started an organization in high school called R.A.K.E. (Random Acts of Kindness, Etc.). As I described what we did, Helga got very serious and told me that she thought “there was nothing more important in the world than Kindness.”

I was curious why she was so passionate and, as the plane took off, she dove into a story about the last time she had been on the plane. She apologized for being so nervous and for bothering me as she explained that it was 3 years ago that she last flew. She had woken up to a phone call from her dad’s doctor and was told to get on a plane quickly to Arizona because “he’s not doing very well.”

 
 
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Just as the plane was about to depart to Phoenix, her father’s physician called to inform her that her dad had passed away. For the 3-hour plane ride, she sat in stunned silence surrounded by strangers.

When she arrived to the airport in Arizona, she walked to the nearest wall, sat down, and wept. In her words, it was the hardest she’d ever cried in her life.

And here is the part I’ll never forget about Helga’s story. For 2 hours, she sat and cried while thousands of people walked around in the airport. Helga looked at me and said, “Houston, not a single person stopped and asked if I was okay that day. Not one person asked how they could help. Houston, you have no idea how much I could have used an act of Kindness in that moment.”

I took a deep breath as she finished, “You know what I realized as 3,000 people walked by? I realized that Kindness isn’t normal - it’s just not normal in our culture to be Kind.”

Kindness Isn’t Normal. That has stuck with me all these years. I’m reminded all the time that, for many of us, Kindness is NOT usually our default setting. We spend so much time worrying about our problems, our lives, our comfort, our insecurities, getting to our flight - that we walk by or ignore people in need of Kindness every day. I’m often so worried about ME that I’m really bad at taking care of YOU.

So, I’ve made it my mission to do my part in making Kindness normal. I’m always on the lookout for Helgas - for the little, proactive opportunities that surround me every day to practice making Kindness my default setting.

 
 
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1. Reflections on Kindness:

  • Why do 3,000 people walk by Helga in the airport? What are the range of reasons or excuses you think that people might make? What justification might you make to not stop?
     
  • In your words, Nice is _____, but Kindness is _____.
     
  • What is the most profound moment of Kindness you have received? You have given?
     
  • Sometimes when I give Kindness, I expect _____ in return.
     
  • You do a simple act of Kindness today to a total stranger. Play out, in your mind or on paper, the maximum possible impact this act of Kindness can have in the world. Follow the Kindness to its most ridiculously improbable, but entirely possible ending.
     
  • Who in your life has exemplified Kindness? What did that look like?


2. What Gets in the Way?

  • Here at ChooseLove.org, we’ve realized that it’s not that we don’t want to get better at something like Kindness - it’s just that there are barriers in our way that we oftentimes aren’t even aware of. Without the time, space, or prompting, we don’t always ask ourselves these questions.
     
    • Incompetence - What don’t I know how to do?
      • Kindness actually requires a lot of skills to do effectively. When I don’t know how to do something, it’s easy to avoid that thing (talking to you crazy ab machine at the gym!)
         
      • What are the skills needed to actually practice Kindness effectively and consistently?
        • Awareness/Observation
        • Emotional Literacy
        • Empathy
        • Vulnerability
        • Vocabulary of Kindness
        • Active Listening
        • Courage
        • Self-Care
        • (Insert your own here!)
           
    • Which of the above do you need the most work with or support on?
       
  • Insecurity - What am I scared of doing?
    • Our personal insecurities often interfere with our capacity for public good. When I am afraid of rejection or failure or embarrassment, it can sometimes prevent me from acting on what I know is helpful, good, or kind. Here are some things that might get in the way of Kindness:
      • I don’t want the person to reject my Kindness
      • I don’t want the person to laugh at me
      • I don’t want others to laugh at me
      • I don’t want to fail or be awkward in my attempt to help
      • I think that others are worthy of Kindness, but I am not
      • If I can’t do it perfectly, I don’t want to do it at all
      • (Insert your own here!)
         
    • Which of the above do you wrestle with the most?
       
  • Inconvenience - What don’t I feel like doing?
    • Whether we like it or not, our feelings often dictate our actions. At ChooseLove.org, we want to work on putting our actions in motion first and allowing the feelings to come after! There are lots of opportunities for Kindness that we may not FEEL like, but can still CHOOSE to act on if we are aware, conscious, and aligned to a deeper purpose than our personal emotions.
      • What are some feelings that might get in the way for you?
      • Anxious
      • Tired
      • Hurt
      • Stressed
      • Hurried
      • (Insert your own here!)
         
    • When you feel like this (but know that Kindness is important), what is one sentence you can come back to that will remind you that what you are fighting for is bigger than your feelings? In short, why does Kindness matter to you?
 
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