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What Is Kindness?

Kindness (noun) The quality of being friendly, generous and considerate Oxford Dictionary

Cast your mind back to a moment that made you think, 'Wow, that was kind!'

Maybe you were on a busy train, and a passenger got up to let an elderly person take their seat. Maybe someone with a week's worth of groceries let the person behind them skip the queue to buy a pint of milk. Maybe you received an unexpected gift from a friend.

Now consider the actions and feelings associated with those acts of kindness. Care, consideration, generosity, goodwill, gratitude.

No matter where you are in the world or what definition you're reading, kindness is good. It makes the world a better place.

Kindness is powerful.

On an individual level, one small act of kindness can make the difference between hopeless depression and having the strength to carry on. Kindness changes lives. And, if you change one life, you change the world.

This goes beyond the seat on the train, the supermarket checkout, and the unexpected gift. In A Culture Of Kindness, Sunshine People founder Nahla Summers notes that kindness delivers a reoccurring message throughout history. When humanity faces its greatest challenges, it is kindness that prevails. Kindness is the eternal resource that humanity draws on to bring us together as people and strengthen our connections.

Imagine if kindness became the foundation for everything we did, from our interactions in the street to our relationships at home. Think how different our workplaces would be if everybody in them stopped to ask themselves the simple question: is this kind?

Kindness isn't complicated. Humans are emotionally intelligent, and we know when we are being unkind. We make mistakes, of course, and sometimes we end up doing precisely the opposite of what we intended. But here's the catch: kindness isn't just something we do, it's something we are. It's natural. But we have to be kind to ourselves as well as to others, and forgive ourselves along the way.

Even if kindness is inherent, it isn't always utilised. Why? Because in certain circles, being kind isn't seen as conducive to success. Kindness is 'cute' and 'fluffy' – it isn't going to make money, seal deals, or get you to the top of the ladder. There's a crushing irony to this, as history demonstrates the power of kindness time and time again. So, how do we harness that power? How can we move past the belief that kindness is an 'added extra'; something you do if you've got the budget?

We stop thinking of kindness as something we do every now and then and we make it our ethos, our constant pursuit, and our ultimate goal. Instead, we start thinking about kindness as a way of being, and not something that can be achieved by material means. Once being kind becomes part of the fabric of our lives, we'll truly experience a culture of kindness. How will your kindness change the world? 

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