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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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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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!


  Written by Beatriz  Vallejo