“Kindness is something anyone can give without losing anything themselves.”
It was this thought that inspired a session I delivered recently for a workshop my company offers off-site meeting. The client selected the topic, kindness, and what followed was a 30-minute mini-workshop spun off from a Gifting & Thoughtfulness workshop my company offers.
The objective of the session was to challenge everyone to incorporate a little more kindness into their everyday lives, and to make this easy to do – i.e. without overwhelming anyone.
To ensure everyone was on board, I made sure to share some of the benefits of kind acts:
- Increases energy and feelings of calm
- Stimulates the production of serotonin
- Can decrease stress and stress hormone levels
- Can reduce blood pressure
The two main parts of the session were a visualization activity (following prompts, the group thought of all of the different spaces, places, and contexts they inhabit and impact, as well as all of the people they encounter daily) and creating a “Kindness Keeper”, a tangible takeaway that would inspire spontaneous acts of kindness, to be kept on their desk or in some other highly visible spot.
During the visualization activity, it became apparent that people were not accustomed to taking a step back, to zooming out, to thinking about just how many people they encounter on a daily or weekly basis – to thinking about how many places and environments they are part of regularly.
When it came time for me to ask how these people and these places might be affected by random, spontaneous, or ongoing acts of kindness, there was a sense of momentum and commitment in the room. There were a lot of smiles. Everyone was enthused. And we used that enthusiasm to create Kindness Keepers – an origami piece that “keeps” ideas for random acts of kindness inside, so you can access an idea anytime, making it easier to take action, even during busy days.
We emphasized acts of kindness that are free or low-cost, and that don’t require a great deal of time or effort, to prevent people from giving up if something is expensive, burdensome, or time-consuming. Suggestions included simple things like walking the longer route in the office to chat with the receptionist who sits in an isolated spot, leaving a cheerful note in your partner’s lunch bag, thanking the bus driver when you get off the bus, and bringing an officemate their favourite snack.
The reaction to the session was overwhelmingly positive. The group enjoyed making something tangible with their hands, and seemed especially excited about the suggestion that they periodically swap Kindness Keepers with their friends or co-workers to ensure they always had “fresh” suggestions of kind acts.
The session stood out to me because it was very wholesome. Although it was a simple topic, taking time to reflect on all of the different areas of our lives in which we can infuse some extra kindness, and taking time to think about the level of impact that might have, was a mood booster in and of itself. Reminding people that kindness doesn’t have to take the form of an extravagant gift or a flower delivery was received so positively, and as I circulated the room, I heard one table say they found the session refreshing. And isn’t that what random acts of kindness are too – refreshing?
Kindness is important, and is often missing from everyday life. It feels good to do a kind thing, and it feels good to receive a kind thing. Kind acts often beget kind acts, and who doesn’t want more kindness in the world?
Because we all lead such busy lives, even the smallest act of kindness is a big gesture.
It says, I made time for you.
It suggests, I put effort into making your day a little bit brighter.
It means, I see you.
It implies, You matter.
It demonstrates, We can look after one another in this overwhelming world.
And indeed, these sentiments were the very things behind the acts of kindness being suggested by the group – I couldn’t help but smile hearing everyone brainstorming nice things to do for a person or a place. The session ended with a lot of smiles around the room, which I felt reflected softer hearts, hopefully buoyed by a goal to spread a little more kindness.
Laura Cedrone is a co-founder of Punchy, an Abu Dhabi-based company that specializes in workshops and services for personal and professional development. With a background in education and program management, she loves to design and build customizable learning experiences. She has very happily and proudly lived in the UAE for 10 years.