THE YEAR OF KINDNESS
Imagine a world.
Where people look out for each other.
Where we all pay it forward.
Where success is measured in selfless acts.
Where kindness is the philosophy of life.
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SATURDAY JULY 30, 2016
RAK Feature Story
“At times like these, people ask ‘How do we make sense of this?’ I say we don’t. To make sense of it means to understand, to comprehend, to relate somehow and that’s not acceptable to me. So what DO I believe?” Ciara Gogan took to her Facebook page to answer this question through a profound and powerful piece, in which she beautifully articulates her rationale for the Kindness Revolution she wants to start with the help and participation of others. These are Ciara’s words and Women You Should Know is honored to amplify her voice and message. KINDNESS REVOLUTION by Ciara Gogan Hate is a powerful emotion. It causes people to do things that most of us can’t imagine anyone doing. How does someone become so hateful that they feel it’s OK to walk into a club, a cinema, an office, a school, a market place, a marathon, and kill random strangers, or ex-coworkers, or kids! I don’t have an answer to this question, I truly can’t imagine what would drive someone to such a place in their minds. I’m glad I can’t imagine…I don’t want that amount of darkness in my mind. "Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world. But it has not solved one yet." Maya Angelou At times like these, people ask “How do we make sense of this?” I say we don’t. To make sense of it means to understand, to comprehend, to relate somehow and that’s not acceptable to me. So what DO I believe? I believe that to counter hate, we must Love. Love our family & friends (this one should be easy enough), Love ourselves (hmm, not so easy for some of us), Love those who are different from us (different race, different religion, different economic status, different sexual-orientation, different color, different ____), Love those who don’t Love, or even like us (now, we’re getting to the tough stuff!) Why do I believe this, that #LoveConquersHate ? Because if there were more Love and kindness in the world, there would be less people to radicalize, less people willing to hate, less fighting, less posturing, less war, less fear of the “other”. “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” – Maya Angelou For those of you thinking “But I’m just one person, what difference can I make”, let me tell you…you can make an enormous difference! How many people do you encounter every day? 4, 20, 50? Imagine all the people that you drive alongside every day on the way to and from work, all the people who serve you lunch, dinner, your coffee, or pump your gas? Now, instead of honking your horn at the guy who cuts you off, or flipping off the woman who won’t let you change lanes, smile and think “have an awesome day”…and mean it! Instead of mindlessly ordering your coffee and simultaneously texting/Tweeting/Facebooking, look up, make eye contact with your server & say “Thank You!” Call your family members & tell them you love them, even if it’s hard. A little kindness goes a long way. Imagine if all the people you touch with your kindness go on to touch 10 people, and they in turn each touch 10 people and so on…every one of your acts of kindness has the potential to positively impact hundreds of others! This all takes a leap of faith of course because you will never know when & how far the ripples of kindness spread but, I can guarantee you this, you will feel better about yourself & the people in your immediate circle will see and feel it too. If you want to take this a step further, and I urge you to…reach out directly to someone the LGBTQ community AND someone in the Muslim community. I’m certain that both are feeling especially vulnerable right now & hateful rhetoric is being spread about both groups. What should you say in your outreach? That’s up to you. It should be positive and supportive. Think about what you would want someone to say to you if you were feeling threatened & hated. If you are LGBTQ or Muslim, reach out to someone from the other community. If you are both, I love your strength. Reach out to someone & tell them your story, it will make an impact! Let’s drown out the voices of hate with Love and compassion. Promise me…. Please share your #KindnessRevolution ideas in the comments too, let’s get this thing going! This post was republished with permission from the author and originally featured here on Woman You Should Know About The Author Ciara Gogan is a Women’s Self-Empowerment Specialist & Certified Master Life Coach who believes that all women should be confident, empowered people who believe in themselves. She has lived on 3 continents – grew up in Ireland, spent a year in Australia in the 80’s, and moved to the US 20+ years ago – and currently lives just south of Boston with her fabulous wife of 8 years, Deb.
RAK Feature Story
My blind and autistic son, Pauly, is my motivation and "Hero."Since Pauly cannot see and talk, we've relied on music to soothe and calm him. I know firsthand the power and happiness that music gives to Pauly, and we want to bring that same joy to others. My son has inspired me to start "Pauly's Project" which distributes 1000's of radios to LA's homeless community of Skid Row. Pauly and I collect donations from family and friends to purchase radios and we hit the streets to hand them out. A simple radio can bring the homeless the empowerment of music, news and sports and connect them back to society. Pauly is loved by so many in the streets and despite his disabilities is showing a true act of kindness. I was blessed with a true angel "Pauly" that may not realize it but he is touching so many lives on a daily basis. I will keep "Pauly's Project" going on my son's behalf and though we have our life challenges he shows me the true meaning of COURAGE...I LOVE YOU SON!!!" To find out more information visit www.paulysproject.org
RAK Feature Story
My name is John M. Sweeney. I’m the founder and Chief Kindness Officer of a worldwide social movement called Suspended Coffees. I’m a misfit, a Kindness Coach, I’m a storyteller and I’m a teacher of kindness. For me, kindness has not only changed my life, it's also saved it. Three years ago I was depressed, alone, thinking my life was worthless when I read about the simple idea of Suspended Coffees. Up until this point in my life, I’d been bullied almost everywhere I went and made to feel worthless. My teachers used to bully me, other kids bullied me to the point of it almost costing me my life. Yet since the day I was born all I’ve ever wanted to do was make people happy, make people smile, help people, be kind to others - it's always been my purpose in life. Since the beginning of this movement, I've had a dream of connecting the world through kindness. Yes we’re all about buying coffee for others, but the real heart of the movement is connecting the world with kindness. See, kindness really does make the world a better place. There is no situation on this earth that it wouldn't improve. Kindness has changed my life and the lives of so many others. One such lady just emailed me yesterday, saying she has almost died three times in the last seven months, but she’s been able to laugh and smile because of the message we’re spreading. She’s learned to be kind to her doctors and nurses, which has resulted in them treating her with even more kindness. They actually look forward to coming in to see her. I know that has a positive impact on other patients as well, because when they leave her, they feel better. She’s one of many. I believe the world needs more kindness, but also, we need to be kind to ourselves. It's the thing we struggle with the most, yet it's the most important part of our lives because our lives actually depend on it. During a recent interview I gave, I was asked how I measure the impact of all the kindness I put out into the world. My answer was simple - you can't, you can't measure the impact of a kind act because its reach is far greater than we can imagine, and it's more impactful than we ever dare to dream.
RAK Feature Story
My name is Madison Peach Steiner, I am the founder of Peach's Neet Feet, and after almost five years of running a non-profit based on the platform of kindness and the science of caring, I see the world through a lens of compassion. I believe one act of kindness can be the foundation for great change in the world. I grew up in a family where kindness and compassion towards others was put before anything else. Because of that, I have an expanding vision for a kinder world and will continue to use Peach’s Neet Feet as a way to create a platform for synergy, conversations, and long-lasting actions that will help create a kinder world. A world where people would come together to find comfort through connection and to share in moments, not material things. Instead of people creating labels for others based on judgment, they will celebrate each other, even in their differences. A kinder world would require a massive shift in perspective and in how people connect with one another, but I believe we all have that ability inside us. Connecting with others allows for positive and impactful interactions that result in opportunities to help others through kindness and sharing resources. Together we can begin to shift from the “me” mentality this world is stuck in, and move towards a world of respect and kindness for others.See Madison's Kindness In Action!
RAK Feature Story
My name is Peggy Filer and I’m a high school health teacher near Seattle, WA. Fifteen years ago two of my students asked me to be the advisor of their new Random Acts of Kindness Club and I said yes. I asked what we would be doing and they laughed and said they didn’t know – they were random! Perfect, because I am random, too. Since then our club has grown from five members to 125 and we have added things like adopting Main Street in our home town of Duvall, WA, going out for Mexican food and paying for people’s meals, being big buddies for kids with disabilities to help them play baseball and go bowling. Every year we have a Kindness Week with special days like Manners Monday, Thankful Thursday, and Freshmen Friday. During that week we have small strips of colored paper where the kids can write an act of kindness they’ve seen, done, or received and then we link them together to make a Kindness Chain that drapes over our Commons area. I try to emphasize that everyday kindness is the most important thing and that it’s more than just being polite – it’s being warm and authentic.We leave it there for a few weeks to remind everyone about how easy it is to be kind. Also, we have invited kids from a nearby elementary school to draw kindness pictures with our kids. I think my big kids enjoy it even more than the younger kids! I try to emphasize that everyday kindness is the most important thing and that it’s more than just being polite – it’s being warm and authentic. Also, I try to get kids to understand that meanness, as well as kindness, can have a ripple effect so they should try to interrupt that negative cycle and convert it to kindness. We have a feature on our school website called BUSTED FOR KINDNESS where the staff members send me a quick message about a kid they’ve seen being kind and then I go take a picture of them with a sign that says “Kind People Rock” and it goes up for all to see. When I walk in a classroom with that sign the kids turn and are excited to see who is getting BUSTED All these things can be easily added to someone’s day. I have no special talent, just a heart that wants to make someone’s day a bit better. See Peggy’s Kindness Club in action!
RAK Feature Story
One afternoon, my friends and I were painting a banner for our high school homecoming in the hallway but kept having to go inside of the girl’s bathroom to wash off our messy brushes. I noticed a girl standing in the bathroom quietly sobbing to herself. Everyone kept passing this girl pretending she wasn't even there. I myself had spent several years of high school standing in bathrooms around the school crying because I was struggling with depression and anxiety. It triggered something deep within my heart as I saw some of myself in this girl. So, despite being a bit shy walking up to a stranger, I approached the girl and asked if she was okay, even though I knew she wasn't. She shook her head no and I told her that she wasn't alone and I would do anything she needed me to, to ease this pain she was in. The school day was almost over though and she had to catch her ride so I gave her my phone number and made her promise to text me that night so we could talk and so she wouldn't have to cope alone. We ended up texting most of the night and the next morning she told me had I not stopped and given her my time she probably would have gone through with her plan and committed suicide. I had no idea as we were standing in the bathroom that she was about ready to take her life and that an act that seemed so small to me made all the difference in her life. It made all those sayings about the power of kindness suddenly seem so true. That day reaffirmed my decision to find work in a field where I could help those struggling with mental illnesses. Today I am in the process of starting my own organization called Fight For Your Infinity to bring light to those who can't currently see it themselves. I will continue to fight for those suffering because nobody should ever feel like they aren't cared about. I care. And I will spend my entire life spreading that message. And to the girl in the bathroom, well she still has her life and I love seeing that she hasn't given up.
RAK Feature Story
About 6 years ago, I was on a plane next to a woman who was relentlessly energetic and fidgety. I was tired and wanted to take a nap. But before I could go into “ignore mode,” she tapped me on the shoulder to introduce herself. “Hi, my name is Helga!” We got to talking and eventually it came up that I had started an organization in high school called R.A.K.E. (Random Acts of Kindness, Etc.). As I described what we did, Helga got very serious and told me that she thought “there was nothing more important in the world than Kindness.” I was curious why she was so passionate and, as the plane took off, she dove into a story about the last time she had flown; it was 3 years past and she was en route to Arizona because she had gotten sudden news her Dad’s health was on the decline. Just as the plane was about to depart to Phoenix, her father’s physician called to inform her that her dad had rather suddenly passed away. For the 3 hour plane ride, she sat in stunned silence around strangers. When she arrived to the airport in Arizona, she walked to the nearest wall, sat down, and cried. And here is the part I’ll never forget about Helga’s story. For 2 hours she sat and wept while thousands walked to and fro in the airport. Helga looked at me and said,“Houston, not a single person stopped and asked if I was okay that day. Not one person. It was that day that I realized how much we need each other. It was that day I realized that Kindness Isn’t Normal.”Kindness isn't normal. That has stuck with me all these years - especially now that I work in schools nationwide speaking about compassion, kindness, empathy, and love. I’m reminded all the time that, for many of us (especially young people - but certainly not exclusively), Kindness is NOT usually our default setting. We spend so much time worrying about our problems, our lives, our comfort, our insecurities, getting to our flight - that we walk by or ignore people in need of Kindness every day. I’m oftentimes so worried about ME that I’m really bad at taking care of YOU. So, I’ve made it my mission to do my part in making Kindness Normal. To share stories with students, teachers, and parents about our need for character and compassion. To provide young people with practical ways to exercise Kindness (they don’t always know what it looks like!). And, for me? I’m always on the lookout for Helga’s - for the little opportunities that surround me every day to practice making Kindness my default setting. For more info about Houston's work in schools visit www.houstonkraft.com
RAK Feature Story
My name is Abby and I'm 8 years old.I care about helping people in need. One simple way I think someone can add kindness to the world is by giving to the homeless or needy. When you do something like this you get a tingly feeling. That, I call “the kindness feeling”. The kindness feeling is my favorite feeling ever. I believe the world needs more kindness because when you give kindness, it spreads. I believe kindness is a necessity to the body. Without kindness, the world is just sad.Every year, I do a pay it forward project. One year I collected and donated towels to a local animal shelter. Another year I made breakfast for the police. When I was very little I raised $1,000 for Shelterbox to help people who were victims of a tsunami. All of this matters to me because kindness is my life. See Abby’s kindness in action!
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A LITTLE ABOUT US
We come to work everyday because we want to make the world a better place. We believe that kindness is the key to making that happen – and we work day and night (literally, we’re always online) to fulfill this mission.
We know that you’re tired of all the negativity in the news, frustrated by the politics, sad to hear about all the pain and suffering out there. Believe us, we know. But there is a huge amount of good in this world… if we’d just take the time to notice it. That’s why we exist. To remind you of that good. To show you that love is the strongest emotion in our hearts and that kindness is the antidote to all the bad stuff.
Through The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, you’ll find things to fill your soul up and help you remember that the world is actually pretty amazing. If you just need a momentary ‘pick me up’, check out our inspirational quotes section or head on over to the Kindness Ideas page. If you want to find out about incredible people, take a look at Kindness Stories. Are you a teacher, parent or youth leader? We have a plethora of resources including a free curriculum for kindergarten through high school, kindness clubs, posters and project ideas. Feel like having a good cry? Watch one of our videos… but don’t forget to have a box of tissues handy. You’ll need them.
All this is to say that we’re here for you. We want your life to be full of joy, love and kindness. Not an easy task, but one we’re ready to take on. Join us.
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“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” More kindness quotes
Has reading about kindness made you feel good? Trust us, that’s nothing compared to how it feels to live it. Here are some ways you can join the movement, and help pass on kindness in your community.
You have the potential to change the world. Become a RAKtivist™ (Random Acts of Kindness activist) and seize it – with the support of a passionate global community all working to spread random acts of kindness.Become a RAKtivist™
By sharing stories of your acts of kindness (or your ideas for new ones), you’ll inspire others to perform their own. This way, every act takes on a life of its own – affecting more people than you ever thought possible.
More than 100,000 teachers are already working to transform school culture using the power of kindness. To join them, download our free, easy-to-implement K-12 resources – rooted in research, created with passion.See Lesson Plans