Sharing inspiration from our own Kindness Journey to inspire yours.

The Power of a Pause

Written by: Nicole Yelsey

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past months reflecting and researching on the power of Kindness, what Kindness even means, and what the barriers are to being ‘Kind’.  In this research and reflection, I’ve realized that many times when Kindness is missed in a situation, the excuse is ‘time’.  In a 24/7, ‘move up or move out’ culture, most of us feel constant pressure from multiple directions. Acts of Kindness are not typically thought of as contributing to our productivity, so they get pushed to the bottom of our to-do lists.  Acts of Kindness are assumed to be timely activities that are ‘nice-to-have’ but don’t actually support our goals.  

But what the research truly says is that Kindness does not have to take much time. By working it into our daily habits, it doesn’t have to add any time at all.  And, perhaps most importantly, Kindness contributes to making us more productive, happy, and healthy individuals.   

Working for a fast-growing startup while raising two young kids, I strongly feel the pressure from the never-ending to-do lists, societal pressures from multiple directions, and the juggling of hundreds of competing balls simultaneously.  There is never enough time in a day.  I very much understand the hesitation to introduce another thing to the schedule, especially one that can’t be linked to our  personal goals or happiness. 

 However, what I’ve learned in the past months is that Kindness is inextricably linked to the goals of every single person that I have ever met.  Whether it is my personal network, the articles I’ve read, or the customer interviews we have conducted, the topics that people share in both their short-term and long-term goals include themes like happiness, relationships, purpose, physical and mental health, resiliency, and personal and professional accomplishments.   What we often don’t realize (I didn’t until recently) is that the benefits of doing Kindness actually have a higher impact on the giver than even on the receiver.  While the Act of Kindness must be done genuinely and not for the purpose of self-benefit, the resulting value that is created by doing the Kindness has massive personal benefits. 

But there is still the issue of time and how we make time for extra Kindness in our days that are already bursting at the seams?  I like to think of it as ‘the power of the pause’.  It’s not about grand gestures (although it can be) rather, it’s  about the handling of everyday situations and making the choice of Kindness in pivotal moments.  Often this means overcoming our natural biases which take hold in a split-second decision-making approach.  While our initial reaction to a situation might be frustration, rage, impatience, distrust, or indifference, quite often those reactions are based upon a bias that can be recognized through a thoughtful pause. 

An example might be when a direct report makes a mistake. The easy reaction is frustration or anger and perhaps to take the work on yourself so that it gets fixed correctly and never happens again.  The power of the pause allows us to ask questions and uncover what circumstances led to the mistake.  This empathetic approach is an example of Kindness that has long term benefits on the relationship and trust with the employee and the employee’s ability to grow and improve.  Of course, pausing to dive into the circumstances of a mistake while on a deadline is not always feasible, but a deadline should never be an excuse. And, more often than not, uncovering the root cause of the problem is a very quick conversation that allows you to solve the problem together even faster. 

Another example of the pause can come from simply saying ‘thank you’. We are all running a million miles an hour and a simple showing of gratitude when someone does something for you has been scientifically proven to improve your own well-being*.  Whether it’s taking the time to shoot a quick email or text, acknowledging someone in front of others, or doing something Kind in return, letting a person know that you appreciate them is proven to make you feel better and connect more with that person. 

The ‘power of the pause’  is also true for self-Kindness. Self-Kindness is crucial because we need to be Kind to ourselves first to realize our full potential for Kindness. Self-Kindness means something a little bit different for everyone and I believe it’s about finding your own ways to be Kind to yourself and then prioritizing those moments to pause in the week.  Again, these don’t have to be huge gestures (although they can be) but it’s about the daily practices that you do to be Kind to yourself.  My example early in the pandemic was that I started putting cucumbers in my water while working and doing a face mask once a week.  It gave me a small sense of calm and relaxation during a stressful time. While it didn’t solve for the stress levels of working from home quarantined with 2 young kids, it helped to give me small moments of reprieve and  support my health, resiliency, and happiness during a difficult time

While the grand gestures and big moments of Kindness are wonderful and so important in creating a Kinder world, I believe that it’s the seemingly small moments in our daily lives that actually have the most power and take little or no extra time. It is these daily interactions that shape each of us and our lived experiences and perspectives. This is why it’s so important that everyone, especially those in leadership and positions of influence, take the moment to pause and choose Kindness.   

*Source: Curry, O. S., Rowland, L. A., Van Lissa, C. J., Zlotowitz, S., McAlaney, J., & Whitehouse, H. (2018). Happy to help? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of performing acts of kindness on the well-being of the actor. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 76, 320-329.

Photo by Paola Aguilar on Unsplash

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Valentine card with empty phone screen and glitters

Big & Small: The Power of Kindness on Social Media

Valentine card with empty phone screen and glitters

Big & Small: The Power of Kindness on Social Media

As social media sites have gained popularity over the last decade, the debate over their value has also reached new heights. Sure, many say that it can be a negative space, but I personally sincerely believe it is a space that holds more good than bad. And when we have harnessed the good, we have seen social media do powerful things. Social media has championed charitable causes and encouraged generosity. It has brought to light social injustices and fostered empathy. And it has shown us a shared experience and simply spread joy. At the root of all of these things is a human proclivity for Kindness. 

Generosity is an Act of Kindness

One of the most memorable social media campaigns that many will recall is 2014’s  “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.” In this challenge, users shared a video of themselves being doused with an icy cold bucket of water. He/she then challenged a number of friends to do the same. All of the participants committed to making a financial contribution to ALS research. The end result was $115 million in donations. The ALS Association said that “[…] donations from the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge enabled The ALS Association to increase its annual funding for research around the world by 187 percent. During this time, ALS researchers made scientific advances, and care for people living with ALS expanded […].”

On a smaller scale, in my personal life, I have used social media to encourage my network to participate in charitable causes locally. At the start of this year, I came across an organization that (due to the pandemic) was no longer able to gather in-person and prepare meals for the homeless, disadvantaged, and unemployed. Instead, they found the next best option: ask volunteers to make bagged lunches at their own homes and drop them off for distribution. I began making lunches every week and shared the story to my Instagram. Soon, I found that many of my friends had followed the organization on Instagram. Better yet, many reached out to me directly to see how they could get involved and have since helped make lunches or contributed to the cause financially.

In one of these cases, the movement was large-scale and worldwide. In the other case, it was small-scale and limited to my neighbourhood. In both cases, a simple social media post weaved an extended web of Kindness. 

Empathy is an Act of Kindness

Another instance where we saw the reach of social media and Kindness was after the devestating murder of George Floyd, with the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer of 2020. Out of tragedy came a flood of activism around the world. Social media was used as a tool to amplify minority voices. Social media educated us about experiences outside ourselves. It guided us on how to have much needed conversations and also showed us where to donate to worthy organizations.  

Ultimately, social media became a catalyst for Kindness. The world empathized with loss and suffering. Many open-mindedly tried to understand how others navigate the world. Multitudes spoke up as allies for the marginalized. Countless people demonstrated a willingness to learn and grow. Millions began to make a sincere effort to listen to each other and make this world a Kinder place.

In my own life, I have also seen the power of empathy on social media. I recently posted a picture of my father on the anniversary of his passing. Many people commented on the post, sending virtual hugs and love. One comment was particularly meaningful. A classmate from high school, whom I hadn’t spoken to in well over a decade, replied with a quote that had helped him through the loss of his mother. We only exchanged a few messages but his simple Act of Kindness showed me that I was not alone in my loss of a parent. If not for social media, it is unlikely that we would have ever connected and had that small, but consequential, moment of deep human connection.

In one of these cases, the world saw a loss of life and rallied around an entire community to fight for justice and equality. In the other case, a single person saw the grief of an old acquaintance and shared words of comfort. In both cases, social media played a part in creating and communicating empathy to people in moments of pain. 

Sharing is an Act of Kindness

Social media’s Kindness is not limited to charitable generosity and empathetic activism. In its most basic form, social media spreads Kindness by simply sharing the human experience. When someone shares a meme, the intent is to elicit humorous laughter. Putting a smile on someone’s face is an Act of Kindness. When someone posts a birthday tribute to a friend, the intent is to celebrate. Showing love is an Act of Kindness. When someone shares an informative article, the intent is to educate. Illuminating others is an Act of Kindness. When someone likes a post or leaves a positive comment, the intent is to commend. Applauding someone is an Act of Kindness. When someone shares an inspirational quote or message, the intent is to uplift. Building others up is an Act of Kindness. 

Social media shows us that Kindness can be big and complex, but also small and uncomplicated. Fundamentally, we are all striving for a Kinder world. We are looking to create a better place to live and raise future generations. This cannot be done solely through individual compassion. It will also take our collective benevolence. In order to do that, we need to be connected, and social media is an important part of that connection.

There is no question that social media is a powerful tool, and as with any tool that holds great power, how we choose to use it matters. For my part, I choose to use it for good – to spread Kindness and positivity. 

What do you choose?

Chesna

  Written by Cheshna Amin

Be kind in wooden letters on a white background

Kindness – a Powerful Tool to Live Happier and Longer

Be kind in wooden letters on a white background

Kindness – a Powerful Tool to Live Happier and Longer

One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about working at KindWorks.AI has been diving deep into the fascinating findings of Kindness research. All the tools we offer here at KindWorks.AI are fully supported by science, and therefore, without a doubt, have the capacity to help people improve their lives in multiple ways. In my deep dives, I have discovered a vast world of academic research, showing the various benefits of conducting Acts of Kindness towards ourselves, specific others, and our communities at large. Today, a growing body of research demonstrates that regularly performing even the smallest Acts of Kindness makes us live longer, happier, and be more productive. In our relationship with others, it makes us more likeable and trustworthy. These studies are part of a broader group of literature aiming to understand the pathways through which social interactions impact disease risk. Interestingly, prosocial behavior has been constantly associated with long-term health outcomes [1].

One of the discoveries I have found most interesting is the influence that Acts of Kindness have on our physical health. Through the current pandemic, we have all become (some once more, some maybe for the first time) keenly aware of how vulnerable our health can be. This realization has made many of us wonder what tools we might have at hand to strengthen our bodies and minds. I was amazed to learn that studies have found that just by performing one Act of Kindness towards someone else once a week for five consecutive weeks has the power to positively change one’s immune expression profiles [1]. In other words, performing small Acts of Kindness for others generates positive changes in our biology, which reduces the risk for disease. Just imagine how much impact it would have to do this for several months (or even years) and maybe also more than once a week? And what if we also accounted for the positive effects that regularly doing Acts of Kindness would have on our happiness, general well-being and also the lives of those who experience our Kindness?

It is our mission at KindWorks.AI to encourage our users to do one daily Act of Kindness in order to live a happier, healthier and more fulfilled life – while also making this world a Kinder place. If this sounds great to you and you haven’t already, head here to sign up for our free 10DaysOfKindness Challenge and experience the amazing benefits of Kindness yourself!

[1] Nelson-Coffey, S. K., Fritz, M. M., Lyubomirsky, S., & Cole, S. W. (2017). Kindness in the blood: A randomized controlled trial of the gene regulatory impact of prosocial behavior. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 81, 8-13.

Beatriz

  Written by Beatriz Vallejo

Compass on a city map

Making Kindness a Life Philosophy

Compass on a city map

Making Kindness a Life Philosophy

The term ‘philosophy’ can have multiple meanings depending on the context. It can mean the kind of academic study done by professors in universities. But it is also often used to refer to each individual person’s outlook on life. What do you value in this world, what are your principles, how do you treat yourself and others, what are your guiding goals in life?

Philosophers – that is, philosophers in the first sense – take great pains to ensure that their argumentation is logical and that there are no embarrassing gaps in the reasoning. This is how many of philosophy’s greatest results have come about. Bertrand Russell’s and Alfred Whitehead’s book Principia Mathematica, which tried to build the foundations of mathematics from as few assumptions as possible, took over 1,000 pages of extremely rigorous reasoning to prove something as outwardly simple as that 1+1=2. 

However, to me it seems that many people, insofar as they can be said to possess a life philosophy, have arrived at this philosophy not through this kind of rigorous reasoning and argumentation, but through the accumulation of life experience, almost by accident. I do not deny that this kind of experience is important and even essential for having a life philosophy that you can rely on. However, I do believe that we can greatly benefit from applying some of the methods of philosophical thinking to our own lives (though perhaps not to the same extent as in Principia Mathematica). As Socrates said at the trial in which he was sentenced to death for allegedly corrupting Athens’ youth: “The unexamined life is not worth living”. We should take care to examine our values, goals and principles to build up to our idea of who we are. To give another ancient Greek aphorism: “Know thyself”. 

How is this done in practice, then, and how does Kindness relate to any of this? Most of us value being Kind to ourselves and others to varying extents depending on the person. How central the concept of Kindness is to our lives inevitably affects our life philosophy, and vice versa. If your life philosophy puts Kindness first, your actions and interactions with others will be coloured by this fact. And if you are someone who constantly embraces and practices Kindness in your daily life, then it is no wonder if Kindness seeps into your life philosophy as well, being elevated as one of your life principles. There are many who wish that they were Kinder than they consider themselves to be, and many who are so disillusioned with the state of the world that they consider Kindness to be an ultimately useless or futile thing to include in their life philosophy. 

This is where I believe philosophy can help. In recent years, movements that apply philosophical thinking to problems in the world have sprung up. Take Effective Altruism, for example. It is a philosophy that advocates for the use of reason and philosophical thinking to incorporate Kindness in your life to achieve effective results. For example, what is the best way to use your money and time to improve the world and other people’s well-being? Questions such as this are ripe for philosophical analysis. Many have adopted similar principles of effective Kindness into their own lives. In doing so, they have changed what their life philosophy means to them.

In philosophy there is an entire field of inquiry that focuses on issues very closely related to Kindness: ethics, or moral philosophy. In ethics we ask questions about what we should do. How should we act with others, what is right and what is wrong? It is a vast field with as many opinions as there are ethical philosophers. And yet, though the field has not reached anything close to consensus about any of these questions, there is something inspiring in the effort to think about these things as hard as you can to try to figure out what you should do in life and in any particular situation. 

It is this same kind of hunger for answers that I think we should sometimes try to apply to our own lives. It is easy to live lives of complacency, going with what seems right at the moment. It is harder to take a step back and critically evaluate yourself and your own actions. But I do think that the rewards for doing so are great: if through this process you find what really matters to you in life, you can be more certain than you otherwise would be that this is something that you truly value – that this is what you are like. And with this kind of self-knowledge comes a certain self-assurance as well – the understanding that no matter what happens with your circumstances, which you ultimately cannot control, you at least know who you are and what you want, and having a clear idea of this can ultimately help with navigating your circumstances as well.

To have something as part of your life philosophy means that it acts as a sort of overarching guide to your choices. It is something you consult, either consciously or subconsciously, whenever you are faced with difficult decisions in life. This is why I urge people to examine their lives as best they can. Whenever you choose one way of interacting with the world instead of another way, how much of the underlying decision-making process was based on your principles, and how much of it was in the spur of the moment? It is in pondering questions such as these that we map out a clearer picture of who each of us is as an individual person. And without knowing who you are, how can you change who you are? How can you achieve your own ideal self, or at least something closer to it, if you don’t know who you are now and don’t know what your ideal self is?

In essence, what I am saying is no more than that if you wish to be Kinder than you are, you should consider promoting Kindness from the peripheries of your life to the front and centre, to include it as a basic tenet of your life philosophy. Live it through your actions towards yourself and others. When you do, and this is something that no doubt requires dedication and practice like anything else in life, you will hopefully find yourselves taking actions that are more closely aligned with who you want to become. To take an honest look at yourself, identify where you think yourself lacking, and then to make a conscious effort to fill in the gaps – this is philosophy for the heart.

Worldwide treatment.

The Inherent Nature of Kindness

Written by: Nicole Yelsey

Recently I went through a self-reflection exercise where I defined what motivates me and why I get up in the morning. I am motivated, both in my work and personal life (which there is an increasingly grey line between) to truly make other people’s lives better. I believe that Acts of Kindness are the core of how we can help improve other people’s lives through our daily actions.

COVID-19 has had a devasting impact on human connection and the toll on the human psyche will have lasting and unknown effects. At the same time, it seems the news would want us to think that people are inherently unkind, unempathetic, and polarized. I wholeheartedly believe that is incorrect and that humans have a desire at their core to be kind. We need to recreate a world where Kindness is amplified and encouraged, and empathy is taught and valued. 

While 2020 had lots of darkness, the hard times also brought out incredible Acts of Kindness from people across the world of all different backgrounds. While the major news networks seemed to focus on amplifying the negative, 2020 also saw many fresh perspectives choosing to focus on the silver linings and spreading Kindness. Some of my favorites include SomeGoodNewsNetwork, Upworthy, and TanksGood News. These each showcase all of the good and inherent Kindness in people.

Celebrities and influencers of all types also took it upon themselves to use their platforms to instigate honest dialogues and to make others’ lives better. For example, Dolly Parton donated $1M to expedite the Moderna vaccine, Tyler Perry purchased groceries for thousands of seniors and at-risk individuals, and Kristen Bell and Dax Shephard waived rent for their tenants and started a free virtual camp for kids and parents during the height of lockdown. These are just a few examples of the many, many stories that make me smile and inspire me to continue to use our own resources to be Kind and do our part to make other people’s lives better.

When I learned about KindWorks.AI, I was instantly excited because it’s the best platform I can imagine to spread Acts of Kindness exponentially and impact huge numbers of people in a positive way. I’m encouraged by the platforms and people I mention above, and many more, who are sharing Kindness through impactful action. Through the unique technology at KindWorks.AI, we can grow these network effects of Kindness by encouraging every individual to spread Kindness. 

I can’t imagine any opportunity that motivates me more than that prospect of spreading Kindness to improve the lives of millions.

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Which way to go road sign

How I Got Lost – And Found Kindness

One positive effect the pandemic had on me was that it got me back into biking. Having been an avid biker when I was young, my biking routine started to slip as I got busy with work, family and life in the last years (um, decades). A few months into the pandemic I found myself with much more time on my hands and astonishingly also a few more pounds on my hips. I knew it was now or never to finally get back on my bike again. A few curb side pick ups from my local bike shop later – who knew biking shorts shrink over time, ha! – and I was good to go.

 

Those first bike rides were magical. It was as if a part of me that had been sleeping was reawakened. Pedalling up a nearby hill, breathing heavily, feeling my heart beat fast, I realized I hadn’t felt this energized and alive in my body for a very long time. I was determined to make my bike trips a regular part of my life again, outlasting the pandemic of course.

 

For the most part, my trips took me to the nearby countryside, which is luckily quite accessible for me living in the outskirts of a small town. On one of the first days of spring, I decided to head towards a village not too far from my house, which was supposed to have a famous historic church I had meant to visit forever. It was a beautiful day that day, the sun was giving off its first warm rays, birds were chirping in the distance, first signs of green were starting to appear everywhere. Aah, and the smell of spring in the air. The signs of much needed new beginnings, especially this year.

 

I felt great when I arrived in the village. Bursting of energy, I confidently pedaled ahead – only to find myself five minutes later on the other side of the village, with no church in sight. Stopped in my tracks, I got off the bike and looked around. Where might the church be? While contemplating which route to take, I saw something moving from the corner of my eyes. An old gentleman sitting on a bench in front of his house was smilingly waving his walking cane at me. I estimated him to be well in his 80s, if not 90s. The man had a kind, weathered face and a frail figure, his white hair sticking out into all directions. He was wearing a light blue face mask, slippers and a robe over his checked pyjamas.

 

I pushed my bike towards him, stopping several meters away from the fence to his house. “Good day”, he said, “Not sure where you’re going, are you boy?”. “I’m afraid not, that’s right” I answered. No one had called me “boy” in a very long time – it must be the biking that’s starting to show, I thought to myself. “I’m looking for the old church which I heard is somewhere around here, I must have passed it”. 

 

“Ah, the church!” His face lit up. “Yes, yes, you came to the right place.” And just like that, the old man started to chat away about the church, from when it was built and with which materials to the times it got partly destroyed and rebuilt. I was surprised by his vast knowledge about this topic and the level of detail he was giving me without any hesitation. He spoke without stopping, his hand not holding the walking cane drawing the shapes of church windows in the air and demonstrating the roof tiles falling down from the big storm in 1867. Something had changed about him since he started speaking, it seemed almost like he had come to life in a new way. It was touching to see his excitement and it was obvious that the church was dear to his heart. I listened to him attentively and, since wearing a mask, tried to show my genuine interest through my eyes as much as possible.

 

After well over 15 minutes, the man suddenly paused. He took a deep breath and smiled at me from ear to ear. “Alright boy, I told you everything. Now go and see for yourself.” I started to thank him for generously taking the time and giving me all this interesting information. He nodded, then suddenly stopped, his eyes wide open. “Wait. I want to give you something.” He slowly got up, shaking heavily, leaning on his cane. As he was catching his balance I began to worry how I would help him in case he fell while also maintaining my distance. I had worried in vain, as once standing he was astonishingly agile. The old man slowly made his way into his house. When he returned, he was holding what looked like a brochure in his hands. It took him a few minutes to come back to his bench and catch his breath, leaning on his cane. As I was once again starting to worry, he finally looked up. 

 

Had he been smiling so far, now he was beaming. With his cane-free hand, he held up the brochure like a trophy. “This is for you. It is about the church, my brother made it. He was a historian you know, had studied history and all. Even went to America once to study, imagine that. He moved away for university, but he always, always came back. Once he made this pamphlet about the history of our church, to keep the memories alive. He died last month. This is my last spare pamphlet and I want you to have it.” 

 

It was palpable that speaking about his brother filled him with both pride and sadness. I was so touched by his story and the kind gesture he was offering that for a moment I didn’t know what to answer. As I was assuring him my appreciation of his Kindness, he waved his hand. “No boy, thank you. I had such a good time speaking with you. I don’t get to do that so often these days, you know. It was nice to have some company for a bit.” We both smiled through our masks.

 

We agreed that he would leave the brochure on his bench for me to pick up after he was back in the house, as it was becoming time for his afternoon tea. As I was watching him disappear through his door, I felt a warmth inside of my chest that I knew was not coming from the sun.

 

The brochure of the old man’s brother now is displayed on my bookshelf in the travel books section. I surely don’t need a reminder, as I will never forget my encounter with the old man. But every time I walk by my bookshelf and I catch a glimpse of the brochure, I smile. Thinking of how when looking for a church in the middle nowhere I found a moment of deep human connection, made possible by the incredible power of Kindness.

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Doing Acts Of Kindness For 10 Days Will Take You a Long Way
The Sun

The Best Way to Light Up our Lives – Learning From Luz

The Sun

The Best Way to Light Up our Lives – Learning From Luz

A few months ago, I met Luz Irene. She works cleaning and preparing food in a private household in Bogota. Colombia is a country with enormous income disparities. It is not rare that people have to work seven days a week to earn just enough to meet their family’s basic needs. Luz Irene is not an exception. She lives with her two children, husband, and stepmother, Luz being the sole provider for her family. Her children, aged twelve and fifteen, have not been able to physically attend school since the beginning of the pandemic. As the family only owns one laptop, Luz leaves the children her cell phone so that both of them can attend their virtual classes.

 

There are two reasons why I am writing about Luz. The first and most important one is that she has taught me about innate happiness and Kindness in a way I had never experienced before. Luz – her name meaning “light” in Spanish – really is a bright ray of light for everyone around her. She smiles all day and radiates so much joy, warmth, and Kindness that anytime I’m visiting the household she works in I catch myself trying to be around her as much as possible. Luz is constantly looking for ways to help others and is one of the most empathic, compassionate human beings I have ever met. My friend who has known her for 20 years told me that she has never seen Luz frustrated or heard her complaining.

 

The last time I saw Luz, I decided to finally ask her for the magic recipe to her happiness. She laughed. “You know, I just enjoy my job so much. Because for me, it is not really work, it’s is an opportunity to be Kind to others every day”, she said. I was baffled. This was it? It took me some time to think about what she had said until I realized how simple yet profound her magic recipe is. By deciding to see her work as a way of showing Kindness to others, she has been able to turn around a situation that could have been very challenging for her. I remembered a quote from the Dalai Lama that I had read somewhere recently: “Be Kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

The second reason why I am dedicating this post to Luz is an experience I had with her very recently. Two weeks ago, Luz’ cell phone was stolen on her way home from work. This meant that she now was unable to organize her job responsibilities and that one of her children could no longer attend their virtual classes. After having searched for several days, Luz told my friend that she would give up on finding a new phone as she wasn’t able to find one that she could afford. When we heard that Luz wouldn’t be able to replace her phone, my friends and I decided to join efforts and buy a new phone for her. At the time, we couldn’t imagine what this gesture would mean to her – and ultimately to us.

 

With tears of happiness, she thanked us and (unknowingly) gave us one of the biggest lessons of all: that there is always a way to contribute simply by being Kind to others. Our gift was small compared to the tremendous amount of Kindness that Luz had been giving to others for so many years. As I was witnessing her  joy over her new phone, I realized that I hadn’t felt this good in a while myself. And just then and there, I got a taste of Luz’ magic recipe. Happiness really is at our fingertips any time, I thought. And one of the most joyful ways to access it is to do an Act of Kindness for someone else.

Change your habits if you want to change your life.

Changing Your Kindness Habits is Now Easier Than Ever

Change your habits if you want to change your life.

Changing Your Kindness Habits is Now Easier Than Ever

“A choice architect has the responsibility for organizing the context in which people make decisions… [S]mall and apparently insignificant details can have major impacts on people’s behavior… Good architects realize that although they can’t build the perfect building, they can make some design choices that will have beneficial effects…”
– Nudge, Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein

 

As a behavioral scientist, I’m always seeking to understand the barriers people face when pursuing their goals. My aim is to find ways to reduce those barriers and help people achieve their objectives. We all have experienced how difficult it is to commit to exercising more, eating better, being better family members, better friends, better citizens, reading more, etc. New year’s resolutions are packed with ambitious and often long-standing hopes for change. Behavioral science helps us understand why change is hard and provides people with tools to reduce the intention-action gap that is part of our daily lives.

Cognitive biases are an essential subject of study in behavioral science. They indicate why we behave as we do in certain situations and why we are not always rational and coherent in our decisions. We often act following “rules of thumb” or heuristics as we behavioral scientists call them. Heuristics allow our brains to save energy and lead to cognitive biases. The planning fallacy, optimism bias, projection bias, and temporal discounting – all very popular cognitive biases – lie at the heart of why we don’t accomplish our new year’s resolutions. They are also barriers we all face when we want to be kinder, happier, or healthier. But what are these biases, and why can Beni of KindWorks.AI help us overcome our own biases in our intent to be Kinder?

The planning fallacy is the tendency we have to schedule unrealistically little time to complete our future projects. The optimism bias leads us to believe we are more likely to achieve things than others and that we won’t face adverse events on our way. Therefore, we will be capable of doing everything we plan and want. The projection bias explains why we make plans based on what we think and feel in the present, without considering that we may feel differently in the future. Therefore, we don’t acknowledge that tiredness, stress, or sadness can get in the way, making us want to do something different from what we planned before. Temporal discounting bias shows that we tend to choose immediate rewards over long-term gains. That is why making efforts in the present is so tricky, even if we know they will bring big rewards in the future.

At KindWorks.AI, we understand the biases and significant barriers that we as individuals encounter when wanting to change our Kindness habits. Doing regular Acts of Kindness might at first seem complex or time-consuming. That is why we created Beni – our empathic, friendly and fun cloud-based AI agent that connects with you in the channel you already use (e.g., Slack, WhatsApp, MS Teams, etc.). Beni uses simple yet powerful behavioral change tools that make your Kindness Journey easy, joyful, and inspiring, while seamlessly facilitating (Kindness) habit change.

On an easy-to-use interactive platform we combine edutainment, gamification, customizable Kindness Challenges, and reminders with Artificial Intelligence. All of this helps our users reduce the impact of their biases and, therefore, enables them to accomplish their Kindness goals. We put behavioral science at our users’ service to live happier, healthier lives and to deepen their connections with others.

Being Kinder is a goal most of us have, and most of us have experienced the enormous satisfaction that comes with doing Acts of Kindness. However, in everyday life many of us find it hard to accomplish our Kindness goals. If you also want to grow your Kindness habits, I invite you to join us. With Beni right by your side, making Acts of Kindness a part of your daily life is now easier than ever before. Our Acts of Kindness are easy to do, mostly free or inexpensive and require almost no to little time. Try for yourself and experience that life-changing power of Kindness!

Beatriz

  Written by Beatriz  Vallejo

Birthday cake with happy birthday banner

The Greatest Gift of All

Birthday cake with happy birthday banner

The Greatest Gift of All

A few years back, I had spent weeks trying to figure out what to get my friend for her birthday, but nothing was coming to mind. Until one day I came across an ad for a soon-to be released blockbuster starring her all-time favourite actor. I knew this was it! Feeling adventurous, I decided to take a chance and entered the ticket lottery for the premiere at our local theatre. As luck would have it, two days later I received an email saying we had been selected for the premiere night!

 

As part of her birthday gift, I decided I would treat her to dinner before the show. With it being a celebration, we decided to spare no expense and ordered to our hearts’ content. Showtime was nearing so we asked our waitress for the bill, but to our surprise, with a smile on her face, she said, “You’re all set, no bill for you ladies today. Someone has already paid for your meal!”

 

Confused, we looked at her and questioned if she had the right table. She insisted that everything was taken care of and that we were good to go. We began to glance around the restaurant to see if someone we knew happened to be there and picked up the tab –  no one to be seen. My friend called her husband to see if he had maybe contacted the restaurant to pay – he swore it wasn’t him. We asked the waitress again if she could tell us who it was, but the most she would share was that it was someone in the restaurant and that they wanted to remain anonymous.

 

We couldn’t believe what had just happened – a stranger, not seeking recognition or thanks, treated us to an extravagant dinner. He or she will never know that the gratitude and joy we felt that evening was palpable. Inspired by this generous Act of Kindness, we vowed to pay it forward. We asked our waitress for a meal to go (this time paying ourselves), and brought it to a homeless man on our way to the show. His reaction brought even more warmth to our already glowing hearts.

 

To this day, we don’t know who it was. But my friend and I still talk about how that night has stayed with us as a reminder of what being on the receiving and giving ends of Kindness feels like. What started with me searching for the perfect gift for a friend ended with both of us receiving the greatest gift of all, a sincere Act of Kindness and generosity.

Closeup of parcel box

A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

Closeup of parcel box

A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

As for many of us, one of the hardest things about the pandemic for me too has been the physical distance from my close ones. Unfortunately, I am not referring to the all-too-familiar 6 feet/2 meters, but rather 5,000 miles/8,000 km, as most of my friends and family live in Europe. While being so far away from them in such a tumultuous year was at times challenging, it also led to some special moments of connection which I will cherish forever.

When still living in Europe, one of my closest friends who I have known since high school had made it a tradition to gift me a subscription to my (and her) favourite magazine every year for my birthday. I had always loved this kind and thoughtful gesture. Every time I received a new issue in the mail, I felt her close and would send her a funny picture of me reading it. When packing before my move across the world I remember going through the stack of magazines and thinking how much I will miss our monthly tradition. Since I didn’t want the magazines to get stranded at my old address after my departure, I asked my friend to cancel the subscription when I visited her before my flight. We didn’t say goodbye but rather “see you soon”, as I already had my first visit to Europe planned for later that year.

Well, things didn’t go quite as planned. Shortly after arriving in North America, the pandemic started and cancelled all travel plans for the foreseeable future. Despite quickly finding new fun ways to connect with friends and family at home, the physical distance remained. Then one day when I went to pick up the mail I found a large envelope with a very familiar handwriting on it in the mailbox. I opened it and held a kind note from my friend and the newest edition of my favourite magazine in my hands. It turned out that she hadn’t cancelled the subscription, but rather had asked for it to be redirected to her house. As the publisher doesn’t deliver to North America, she took care of it herself. I was touched by her kind gesture which was only the first of many as she didn’t let me miss one issue since then.

The pandemic will pass, but I will never forget these Acts of Kindness of my friend that made the distance between us seem so much shorter.