Into the Mouths Of Babes

19 Apr

A 7 year-old in North Carolina got busy when he learned about a food program for hungry children in his state. He started raising funds and food for hungry children. This year he raised enough to feed 16 kids for a year.

His website

And the Huffington Post Article

What Does Kindness Get You? This.

9 Apr

A beautiful video from Thailand showing what’s in it for you.

Kid Kindness

20 Mar

The Surprising and Beautiful Empathy of a Middle School Football Team

25 Nov

Last month, something beautiful happened on a Michigan football field, and it wasn’t simply a brilliant play. The players of Olivet Middle School conspired to make the day for their learning disabled new teammate, Keith Orr, by setting him up for sweet victory and literally (and figuratively) handing him the ball.

Without the knowledge or assistance of their coach, these young boys purposely took a knee at the one-yard line so that Keith could be the recipient of a touchdown pass on the next play. “Nothing can really explain getting a touchdown when you’ve never had one before,” said teammate and co-conspirator Justice Miller, explaining the joy they wanted to bestow upon their new friend.

We have a tendency to dismiss youth culture as cruel and shallow, especially in the internet age. These boys have completely flipped that idea on its head, showing kindness and compassion in a way most adults would find astonishing. Keith struggles with boundaries – often hugging friends and classmates any chance he gets – in the sweetest manner possible. These boys recognized that their new addition needed a boost of recognition and a truly positive experience at school. The boys delivered above and beyond on their secret promise, making Keith into a school celebrity. “Because he’s never been cool or popular, and he went from being, like, pretty much a nobody to making everyone’s day,” said Justice.

“I kind of went from being somebody who mostly cared about myself and my friends to caring about everyone and trying to make everyone’s day and everyone’s life,” he continued. Here, Justice highlights possibly the most important outcome of this bold act of kindness. Sharing happiness with others allows it to blossom within us. Recognizing this has changed these boys’ lives for the better, and given the adult world a beautiful example of thoughtful compassion we could all learn from.

Can Happiness Spread Through Social Networks?

15 Nov

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In 2008, the British Medical Journal published the results of the Framingham Heart Study, a 20-year, 4,739 subject undertaking meant to evaluate whether happiness can spread from person to person, and whether niches of happiness can form within social networks. The findings were remarkable: clusters of happiness result from the spread of happiness – and not simply a tendency for people to associate with similar individuals.

Happiness, in other words, is not merely a function of individual experience or individual choice; it is also a currency among groups of people. In fact, changes in an individual’s happiness can ripple through social networks and give rise to widespread structure in the network, birthing clusters of happy and unhappy individuals. These results are especially phenomenal considering that the spread of happiness requires close physical proximity and that the effect decays over time.

The results line up consistently with prior studies on the evolutionary basis and necessity of human emotion. Aside from their internal and psychological relevance, emotions have a distinctly social role. We humans experience emotions inside and show them outside. The emotion of happiness, the study concludes, serves the evolutionary purpose of enhancing social bonds, like laughter and smiling. These outward expressions solidify social relationships: producing, rewarding, and encouraging others through ongoing social contact. This paves the way for the understanding that great psychological, social, and biological rationales exist to vindicate the idea that social networks are extremely relevant to human happiness.

The study also bumped up against the apparent limitations of this happiness spread, reaching at most three degrees of separation, similar to the behavioral spread of obesity and smoking. Although the personal effect between individuals may be strong, there is significant decay before reaching throughout the entire network; the cascading bloom of happiness is not limitless.

One aspect of this study that will be of particular interest for future students is that the research did not allow for an indication of the actual, causal mechanics of happiness spread. A plethora of mechanisms are possible. Happy people might be adjusting their behavior toward others, sharing outward emotional displays in genuinely contagious fashion. They may simply spread their good fortunate in functional, pragmatic terms through social largesse or financial generosity. The most important takeaway here is that, however it occurs, an individual’s happiness is paramount to society’s widespread and lasting wellbeing. When someone is happy, others are too. When people share happiness, critical elements of life ranging from health to productivity contribute to the expansive nature of our understanding of quality of life.

Paying it forward and the kindness of strangers

24 Oct

It’s easy to be cynical when big celebs are paying for random acts of kindness, but it is a growing ‘thing’ among ordinary people.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/24/playing-it-forward-ellen-degerneres

Costume Not Required-but it may help.

18 Oct

Acts of kindness don’t require masks and capes, or do they? Whether you decide to dote the latest spandex unitard with matching mask and cape, or your regular jeans and favorite hoodie, doing good deeds is never out of style.  We are always on the lookout for people who are generating, spreading and boasting kindness, regardless of their attire.

I came across a news story about a man in Tokyo, who dresses in a green Power Ranger suit, and waits at the top of the subway stairs to help people carry their large bags, strollers or other.  What a nice gesture, right? Well, there is a story behind his need for a costume.

“The slender 27-year-old has spent three months being a Good Samaritan at the station on Tokyo’s western side. Like many in the city, it has neither elevators nor escalators and a long flight of dimly lit stairs.

In a green outfit with silver trim and matching mask, a superhero, who calls himself Carry-Your-Pram-Ranger, waits by the stairs of the Tokyo subway station, lending his strength to the elderly, passengers lugging heavy packages and mothers with baby strollers.”

When Tadahiro Kanemasu began doing these good deeds, people looked at him like he was a “weirdo.”  Apparently in Tokyo, patrons have a hard time accepting help because they feel that they are supposed to help the other person, so it puts them in an awkward “How can I help you if you are helping me?” catch-all, additionally, people are taught to avoid anything that may be seen as a ‘risk’.  Ok, I can see how a man grabbing ahold of your bags in a subway station when you are all alone, female and elderly, could be seen as a risk, but c’mon, the man actually has good intentions for once.  Doesn’t it bother you that there are so many ‘bad’ people in the world that the ones who are trying to help are seen as predators?

This is where the costume came into play.  When Kanemasu started appearing in his ‘Green Ranger’ costume, and offering to help, people still looked at him like he was a weirdo, but “in a good way”.  Funny how that works: street clothes=risk, funny costume=safe? I don’t know, but I’ll take it, and lately, there seems to be interest from others:

“Since Kanemasu can set aside only a couple of hours each day for his good deeds [he also works in an organic greenhouse-hence the color choice of his ranger] he hopes to recruit others in different colored suits. Already he has inquiries about pink and red.”

You are certainly not expected to roam the streets in the wee hours of the morning in some crazy get-up to be a superhero.  There are many quick-and less fashionable (in my opinion)- ways to make someone’s day a little less hectic.  Volunteer at a children’s hospital (who wouldn’t want to play an hour of their week away), offer to carry groceries for the elderly lady at the store, mow a little outside of your own property lines (and onto your neighbors lawn) next time you are doing yard work; and if you want to wear a cape while doing it, we won’t judge you, in fact, please send pictures.

kindness4GRACE & Other Random Acts

10 Oct

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24; almost half of all suicide victims were bullied. kindness4GRACE was started by a group of family members of a girl who was continually cyber-bullied, leading to her death in 2012. “Easter Sunday 2012, our cousin Grace McComas committed suicide after nearly a year of cyber-bullying.  Grace was a girl who inspired happiness and laughter wherever she went. She did not deserve to have to end her life so early. Had Grace been shown the kindness she deserved she would still be alive today. Grace, though is not the only victim of cyber-bullying. In honor of Grace McComas, her 17th birthday, October 9th, is official Kindness for Grace day!”

Although “Kindness for Grace Day” has passed this year, that doesn’t mean that we can “generate kindness” every day.  Sending a single message- text, Facebook post, tweet- of kindness can have a huge impact on someone’s mentality.  When people smile, its contagious.  If everyone focused more on spreading happy thoughts and happy words, the world would be contain many more happy hearts.

Simple, random, acts of kindness are inexpensive and can be quick, but have effects that are sometimes larger than we could ever fathom.

A few examples from recent news:

 Instead of a party, or asking for presents to celebrate her birthday, Hilary did 22 acts of kindness for her 22nd birthday.:

Otto Porter Jr’s (Washington Wizards)  Random Act of Kindness-Purchasing and eating lunch with a homeless man:

No matter how big or small an act of kindness, it will always have positive effects. Take some time out of your day, and dedicate it to doing one, five, ten random and kind things for a friend, coworker or stranger. Then tell us about what happened, we love your stories.

Kids These Days

8 Oct

So much focus –from the media, from the parents, from society- goes onto all of the ‘bad’ attributes of today’s youth.  We (adults) notice their cell phones, their $150 shoes, their Facebook, their iPads; and make negative comments about how “lucky” kids are today, and how “easy” they have it.  Yes, children today have many advantages as far as technology, and ease of access to information, but do you look at the whole picture of adolescence, and what their day-to-day involves?

Kids these days do not have it easy.  October is National Bullying Month.  That’s correct, bullying has become such an epidemic that we have a month dedicated to combating and preventing it.  The days have passed where boys would fist fight it out in the school yard until there wasn’t enough energy to fight anymore, and then they’d be friends again.  Girls aren’t just gossiping to each other at sleepovers and behind closed doors.  No, bullying is at its worst, and thanks to that wonderful technology that makes life so ‘easy’ for kids, life is now harder, and more public, than ever.

I’m not just talking about the kidnapping and school shootings that make the news every other week, I’m referring to the stuff you don’t always hear about unless you’re looking for it, I’m talking about the kids that are cyber-bullied so bad that they are committing suicide at alarmingly young ages.  Can you imagine feeling so worthless and desperate that taking your own life is your only option… at age 8? Personally, when I was eight, was still watching boys get chased by girls on the playground, and get this, it was because they LIKED them!

Bullying is usually a chain reaction.  One kid gets mad, starts some rumor or starts picking on a kid (usually weaker, less fortunate).  Other kids want to be a ‘part of the group’, so they start joining in on the name calling chants, the Facebook/twitter posts, the physical violence, and on and on it goes. Then what happens? If (and that’s a huge if) the bullying is confronted, even resolved, does it stop there? No.  It then turns internal: self-bullying.

Kids are under tremendous pressure and influence from their peers, and from the media.  They are programmed on how they should look and who they should be; often, and almost always, a false standard that no one can achieve. It breeds self-judgment, and a crippling self-comparison.  Children are not equipped to deal with all of this self-negativity, so what happens? They then lash out at others to try and feel better about themselves, the victim becomes the bully, and the cycle continues.

Here is the flip side to that; kindness can also be a chain reaction.  When one person does something kind for another, there is a pay-it-forward reaction.  The receiver of the kind act, in turn, does something kind for another, and so on and so on. When this theory is applied to bullying, it can have widespread, positive, even life-altering effects.

Just think for a moment.  If you can get one of those children to stand up for the victim, instead of joining the bully, will others follow? Some of the bullying that children are facing starts over the smallest, most minute incidents, and only becomes a huge (and sometimes deadly) problem because it continues to be fed.  If the small problem is starved, inevitably, it will die.

There is some light in all the bullying darkness; people who care about the future generations, and want to make this cold world a little less cruel.  There are many campaigns around the United States, and the world, that are out to combat bullying.  Even The Department of Education had hosted summits on bullying prevention and 48 states have enacted anti-bullying legislation.  Stars are using their clout to bring attention to the issue; i.e. Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way Foundation’.

But, here is the reality: even with all this attention, the CDC states, “nearly 30% of American adolescents reported at least moderate bullying experiences as the bully, the victim, or both.” Paired with that, 83% of bullying incidents receive no intervention and continue happening. That’s a sobering statistic.

The truth is, anti-bullying awareness can grow as big as the media can make it, but that doesn’t always reach home.  It comes down to every parent, every teacher and aide, teaching, spreading and enacting kindness back into the world.  Bullying is an epidemic; kindness is the cure. Teach our children, and heck, our adults, to be kind, to themselves, and others.  Spread it around like a plague.  Little acts and large acts, whatever you can do, makes a difference, and could mean the world to a child who feels they have no options left.  Be the light in someone’s darkness, you never know what you could start, or end.

 

Kindness in the Midst of Disaster

26 Sep

When thinking about events that “evoke kindness” in the world, the last thing that normally comes to mind is violence, guns, and death, but in moments of tragedy, the kindness of others can be truly inspiring.

People, as a whole, are evolving with the times. I have heard many members of the older generations talk about how safe the world was when they were young –   how they never thought twice about sending the kids to school on their own, store clerks were not behind glass (in fact, they knew you on a first name basis), and the simple threat of “telling your father” was enough to stop children from doing wrong.  That is not the world that we live in any longer.

Our world seems much faster, more dangerous, and honestly, a lot scarier.  But amidst all of this negativity in the news, and the horrific events that have come to define the current generation (i.e. 9/11, school shootings, Boston bombings, the list goes on…) there are still people out there who believe in the core value of kindness. People who, no matter their surroundings, put others first, and risk their lives at the slim chance of saving another. These are the people who truly “Generate Kindness.”  These are the people who rarely make the news, but when they do, it makes your heart smile a little bit, knowing that kindness DOES still exist.

The shootings at the Naval base in Washington DC pulled on the heartstrings of people from every corner of the world. It was a sad event, and like many of the other tragedies of the past decade, one that didn’t need to happen.

I’m not sure that I would have been thinking about others around me while shots rang out from down the hall. I might have been running for my life – that’s right, MY life. Apparently, kindness is stronger than fear, than the survival instinct we are granted at birth. Just ask Omar Grant, a civilian employee who was working on the first floor of the naval base that day.

 “We heard three more shots and that’s when people started running out of the building and getting the hell out of there.”

 While others ran for the exits, Mr. Grant took a coworker, identified only as “Linwood,” by the arm and carefully led him to safety.

This man knew that there was a gunman shooting people very close to where he was standing, and instead of following the rest of the crowd and running for his life, he thought of his coworker – who was visually impaired and used a walking stick – and HIS life. That, ladies and gentleman, is true kindness.

Although I have much hope that you never see yourself in a situation as scary and dire as these men and women, I do challenge you. I challenge you to ask yourself what you can do to “generate kindness” in your house, community, state… even planet. All it takes is one person to stand up and have a little more bravery than the crowd, and perhaps the masses will follow. Redirect the crowd into a path of being kind, and who knows, maybe we can resurrect a little of the “good” the world used to know.

Washington Navy Yard shootings: Hero Navy worker leads blind colleague to safety http://uk.news.yahoo.com/washington-navy-yard-shootings–hero-navy-worker-leads-blind-colleague-to-safety-150418802.html#of9d78X