Making Kindness the Norm

Do we smile at people when we pass them on the crosswalk? Do we say hello to random strangers that sit close to us awkwardly on a plane or at a community table? Imagine a small town or the tv show “Cheers” for a second. How could we create a community where everyone felt loved and respected? Could you turn the other cheek or stand up to injustice? The reality is we’re all never going to be perfect and to think of the world as roses and sunshine just isn’t the truth. In America, many of us are fortunate to live in a “thank you” culture where most people at least express gratitude for something you’ve done or said. The goal is that those reading this have the tools to take action and change the way we treat those we come in contact with today. Ultimately, making kindness the norm in your world.

Random Acts of Kindness – Be it in school or work, how easy could random acts of kindness be and how effective could they be for influencing goodness. For example, when I was in high school the leadership class would send out certain kids during school to drop off smiley face balloons during classes. Imagine at work if you took a tennis ball and with a sharpie made a smiley face and set it on a coworkers desk and each day the ball visited a new guest. Recently, I saw a video made by high school staff members. It was about how they recognized and thanked specific students for being their reason to come and teach today. What if you took a 15 second video on your phone of how much someone at work means to you today and asked your coworkers to do the same. Public affirmations can positively impact your group or team. Dale Carnegie, Patrick Lencioni, and Phil Boyte are great references for teachings and principles around this.

Physical Disruptions – Imagine designated places for people to go and obtain a feeling from when they are down. What if you’re having a bad day and want a pick me up and no I’m not talking about a Red Bull or Starbucks. For example, I heard once that a high school implemented a high-five hallway. There was a designated area of a hallway on campus that anytime you walked through it you would get high five’s from people walking through. In addition, I heard in the workplace about groups having morning huddles where people share in a trusting/comfortable environment how they really are and things that could effect their performance for the day.

Interestingly enough, I heard Stu Cabe give an assembly talk last week. He referenced that what if we all carried around chalkboards around our neck and each day we wrote on them what we were feeling. He referenced his chalkboard might say, “Be nice to me today, I had to put my kitty to sleep.” We all carry around chalkboards but many times we are not conditioned to look for them. The speaking I do with Breaking Down the Walls is centered around, “It’s hard to hate someone whose story you know.” If I knew your story and you knew mine we probably would be more kind to one another. 

I’m not saying we’re all going to go around and tell strangers our life story but if we had the awareness to recognize there may be a reason behind why people are behaving the way they are we may treat them with a little more compassion and heart.

Today let’s start by recognizing that we live in a good world. Let us be thankful for the good health we’ve been blessed with and let us lead the rest of our day with a smile. A better world, a better city, and a better community start with you and I making kindness the norm.


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