“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelo
Today is World Kindness Day. It was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement, a group of nation kindness NGOs. Many countries like Canada, Japan, Australia, Nigeria, UK, India, Italy, United Arab Emirates and Singapore officially observe the day. On this day, there are many events celebrated like: THE BIG HUG, handing out Kindness Cards, Global Flashmob, which was coordinated by Orly Wahba from USA which was held in 15 countries and 33 cities with its images of the event making the big screens in New York City. Even though we don’t officially observe the day in the United States, I wanted to take the time for us to pause and think about kindness.
Maya Angelo has my favorite quote that I usually kick off every presentation I do and daily I try to make sure every person I come in to contact with feels valued, important, cared about and their opinion matters. Sometimes the grind of everyday life we forget the importance so slowing down and saying hello to our neighbor, our cubical mate next door or how the last conversation made the person you were interacting with feel. With all you hear on the news is the world today is full of dysfunction, conflict, and disasters its hard to stay positive or think there is any kindness left. But what we can count on is inherently we are kind people and there is a lot of kindness in the world. The Giving USA 2013 report was released in July. The good news is that the total contributions in 2012 increased to $316.23 billion. According to the report, the specific increases are:
- 3.5% increase in total estimated U.S. charitable giving
- 3.9% increase in giving by individuals
- 4.4% increase in giving by foundations
- 12.2% increase in giving by corporations
As a country we are one of the most giving people when it comes to people’s time, talent and money. I was honored to participate in our Microsoft Annual Giving Campaign where employees supported over 18,000 organizations and raised over $94 million and by the end of the calendar year should reach $108 million. Kindness is not just about giving money and time to organizations but its also about how we make each other feel. Research has shown that if you feel appreciated, valued, kindness from your boss and fellow peers you will be more productive and happy. Check out this great Ted Talk by Shawn Achor- http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work.html to get you in the mood to be more kind today.
You can still have a virtual hug! Continue to be kind.
Working for a technology company, having the ability to work remotely and taking advantage of the latest gadgets is fantastic. But it also requires us to think about our personal in-person interactions even more, since they are so few. Today, we are constantly online and engaged in virtual conversations. We tend to feel more comfortable sending an email than walking down the corridor to talk to a colleague or pick up the phone. I don’t know how many times I have been in a restaurant and seeing couples and children with their parents texting each other than talking. As wonderful as Facebook, Skype and Twitter keep us in touch and up to date on the latest happenings in life, they also take away from that personal engagement and that feeling of appreciation and love we have for each other. Nothing beats a conversation with an old friend that you haven’t talked to in a longtime or when you meet a person for the first time in a coffee shop and strike up a great conversation and feel that instant connection.
One of the things I love to do each week is just one random act of kindness like buying a cup of coffee for the next person in line, getting a meal for a homeless person, or volunteering to help grade papers for a teacher at the local school. Too many times we over think and make doing something nice too much work to include in our busy lives. One of the website I love that can give you great ideas: http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/. Check it out and try something. Also, another great Ted Talk to get you in the mood today and this week: http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_zittrain_the_web_is_a_random_act_of_kindness.html.
Lastly, I want to leave you with 10 things you can do today to participate in World Kindness Day:
- Show someone you know gratitude- send him/her a quick email to thank him/her or pick up the phone and call him/her or better yet get him/her a coffee and tell him/her why you are grateful to know him/her
- Replace judgment, no one likes to be judged
- Walk in someone else’s shoes and try to understand where they are coming from
- Hold back criticism and try encouragement
- Recall how someone made you feel really good and what can you do in return
- Surprise someone you know with a kind note
- Turn off your devices tonight and have a conversation with your significant other or children
- Write down 10 things you are thankful about and if you listed any person, let him/her know
- Do one random act of kindness for someone you don’t know today
- Give yourself a break and be kinder to yourself, we are our worse critic. Appreciate the great work you do.
Have a wonderful World Kindness Day and Pay it Forward!