Extreme Kindness

Extreme Kindness

Are We Cool?

Who is deemed to be COOL in todays world? Who does society think of as uncool both today and throughout history? This new study out of the University of UBC (see below) might have some answers. Pls send us your comments on who you think are both the coolest and the uncoolest people in the world today.

Brads Cool Meter:
Steve Nash: Very Cool and very Kind.
George Bush: Needs a lot of help. Low on the meter, okay maybe empty.

You won’t believe the new ‘cool’
SCOTT DEVEAU
Globe and Mail Update
It’s hip to be square, according to the new study out of the University of British Columbia.

Researchers have found that the iconic image of the rebel, embodied by the likes of James Dean and Marlon Brando, is no longer what people identify with the term “cool.”

The new cool is a friendly, good-looking, industrious person, who dresses well, fits in and is trendy; someone “your mother would want you to be,” according to Ilan Dar-Nimrod, a researcher on the study.

He said fewer people identify with the classic image of cool than one would expect. For most, the new cool is someone who possesses more “socially desirable” characteristics.

“I don’t know if I can blame marketers, or if there is even anyone to blame, but the mainstream got a hold of coolness and turned it into a mainstream version of coolness,” he said. “People now identify passionate and warm as cool, which is almost oxymoronic.”

According to the research, roughly 60 per cent of survey respondents now say cool is someone who possesses socially desirable characteristics, while roughly 15 per cent identify it with the classic image of someone who is mysterious, aloof, and dangerous.

Mr. Dar-Nimrod, along with his colleagues, have run a series of studies to try to identify the characteristics people now define as cool.

The first experiment was to ask people to define for themselves what they thought was cool.

“We found common themes in it, and we found that people associated coolness with things that they liked,” Mr. Nimrod said. “It was very idiosyncratic, but the theme that came out was ‘I like it, therefore it’s cool.’”

The researchers then took a list of 90 common characteristics — like friendly, wealthy, aloof, mysterious — and asked 800 mostly twenty-somethings to rank the words on a scale of one to seven on how cool it is. They then asked the same group to go through the list again and rate those characteristics on a scale of social desirability.

“We found that they are not completely synonymous, but at the same time, it seems that social desirability is a dominant part of what is Western-Canadian cool,” he said. “It appears that first and foremost it (something cool) is social desirability, but lurking in the back of people’s mind is still this Marlon Brando, rebellious character.”

Mr. Dar-Nimrod describes it as a “schizophrenic construct,” he divides cool into what he calls a “Type-1″ cool, which is the friendly, industrious, well-adjusted type, who helps in the community. The other, a “Type-2″ cool, is the classic rebel.

More people, he said, presently identify cool with Type 1 characteristics.

“Historically, coolness was a marginalized construct, so if you’re oppressed or marginalized, coolness is a way for you to deal with the situation by being detached, or by being aloof, keeping a facade of rebellion and toughness. That was cool,” he said. “Not any more.”

The study also ranked celebrities, and while Johnny Depp, an iconic rebel, still dominates the list, he said the majority are now more trendy.

Perhaps not surprisingly for the twenty-something crowd, George W. Bush and Adolph Hitler ranked on the bottom of the coolness scale.

“I didn’t do that on purpose, I would never put George Bush and Hitler in the same category,” he said. “But they are both very high on the uncool scale.”

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WorkPlace Ethics 101

I was reading the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest newspaper, and I came across a section described as WORKPLACE ETHICS 101. In this article the journalist had supplied certain workplace scenarios and asked for peoples responses. One in particular caught my eye:You are a salesperson working on commission and have not yet signed your contract for the coming year because you are still in the midst of negotiating it when the company sends you to a trade show. You have a good lead the company hopes will result in a sale that will pay for the trade show, but the sale falls $3,000 short of the cost of the show. The company withholds $3,000 from your commission and because you have nothing in writing you have no way to contest this. On top of this you are $500,000.00 short of your 2 million target for the quarter so you will not make any commission. A possible sale of $200,000 comes in, but it won’t get you to your target and you’re mad about the company’s withholding $3000, so you consider tanking the sale, as it won’t do you any good. Should you do so?

My response would be to first think in terms of KINDNESS TO THE CUSTOMER. If it is in your customer’s best interest to do business with you then I believe that you should make the sale. Successful sale people are experts in building and maintaining real and genuine relationships with their clients. Your second consideration should perhaps focus around both KINDNESS TO SELF AND CO_WORKERS. By doing the right thing you increase your chances of renegotiating a more positive contract and improving your company’s overall business health, financially and culturally, at the same time.

What do you think? Please send me your comments.

B-rad

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So I just got punched in the stomach…..

It is so easy to get caught up in the small day to day stresses and details of life. Yesterday I was pouring myself into a small cup of self pity. My regular excuses for this monthly activity were as usual, lack of sleep, no time to eat or exercise, a messy office, money problems and just all round frustration. Before the day finished though, I received a good hard shot to my stomach.

Metaphorically speaking, this punch to my midsection and heart came from the email below, sent to us via our website:

Dear. Extreme Kindness,
I recently had a coworker pass away. Her name was S_______, She was 31 years old and gave birth to two healthy twin boys on April 14th. A week later she fell ill and was rushed to the hospital and had a blood
clot to her brain, the doctors did several operations to relieve the pressure on her brain. On April 29th she passed away leaving behind a husband, a beautiful six year old daughter and two newborns. We are
getting a fundraiser together to raise money for her children and could really use some acts of kindness(angels) to help us. Thank you for your time and God Bless, Brandy

Stories like this can help us all put normal and small problems into perspective. For example I can choose to sleep, exercise and eat more. Honestly, if money becomes too much of an issue I can, if I have to, find another career. But that man will never have his wife back nor will the baby twins ever truly meet their mother. This short email caused me to remember once again, as so many other stories have, that I am so incredibly lucky to have such normal problems. It hasn’t always been the case and I doubt I will always be so fortunate. But I should at least be able to enjoy it when I can and help others while I have the strength.

Brandy (the wonderful lady who wrote the email), could you please comment on this blog and send people your fundraising information and details?

If anyone else has any cool fundraising ideas for Brandy and her friend’s family, please send us your comments attached to this blog. Every idea can help and I am sure the family would appreciate even a quick letter of support.

B-rad

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New York: The Big Apple & The Caring City

New York used to be a place of crime and rudeness. Or at least many of us thought. In a recent news article reporter Andrew Cohen stated that 30 years ago New York “was a sorry dominion of decay, white flight, black anger, crime and disorder” However the same reporter goes on to state that “New York is the capital of the world again. It is an engine of prosperity and imagination–It is also, strangely enough, terribly, terribly polite today”.

Possible reasons for this are many and varied. But I like the idea, as does Andrew Cohen, that the “Big Easy” has begun incorporating into the day to day laws for the conduct and behavior of its citizens. Small acts of kindness such as bannning cell phones from theaters and feet from on top subway seats. By encouraging people to honour those small but important feats of civility, New York is changing its reputation and indeed, its entire culture for the better.

Last summer we travelled to New York and experienced one of the kindest places we have ever visited. The people of the city were warm and eager to interact with us as we crossed through the burrows hugging and high fiving our way to a kinder world. If New York is the Rome of today then perhaps our world is on the mend. Thank you New york for giving me hope.

If anyone else has a postive story about New York and wants to share it please send it to us at www.extremekindness.com

B-rad

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Power of One

Have you ever experienced a powerful act of kindness from a total stranger?

If you have then you will understand why this moment was when I first really took my destiny into my own hands. It was after severely injuring both my knees playing rugby and I was informed that I would most likely be in a wheel chair one day not too far off. I was 19 years old and encouraged to prepare myself for a lifetime of using a cane. The doctor who told me this was very experienced and intelligent. I had desperately wanted him to tell me what to do and how to fix my problem. Even with all his knowledge though, he did not have the answers. I fell into my first and last major depression. I felt helpless and alone. Until one day I stood on a downtown corner waiting for the light to change. I leaned on a cane that had been jokingly decorated with pink bows by friends and family, in a small attempt to cheer me. It didn’t help and so I stood hating my situation, my helplessness and inability to heal. Then a voice spoke behind me.

“Hey mister, nice cane”.
I turned around and stared down into the face of a young boy waiting behind me to cross the street. He was possibly somewhere between 9 to 12 years old. It was hard to say. He was smiling up at my baffled face. The light changed green and he left me standing alone again as he rolled across the street. He was in a wheel chair. I felt truly ashamed. I was so focused on what I could not do that I had neglected all the things that I could. From that moment on I began to decide my own fate. I visited as many Health Practitioners as would see me… From physiotherapy, Tai Chi, yoga, acupuncture, sports medicine to herbal tea, I tried everything you could imagine. I took and used the advice that worked and ignored what didn’t. I never had the surgery that was recommended and yet probably doomed to failed. Instead I found my own solutions and here I stand at 28 years of age. I just went surfing today. Perhaps I’ll climb a mountain tomorrow. None of this would have happened if it hadn’t been for a small act of kindness that took less then 5 seconds out of a stranger’s time.

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www.PartnersInKindness.org

I have recently been lucky enough to be connected to a very incredible person. His name is Schmuel Green and he is the founder of the website and movement, http://www.PartnersInKindness.org. Shmuel was brought to my attention by Debbi Tenzer another kindness guru, who is the creator of www.donicething.com, the website I mentioned in my last blog. Debbi encouraged me to email Shmuel about his story and I found it be a powerful one. His story will bring tears to your eyes and smiles to your heart. Make sure to check out his website to learn more about how, after going through a tragic event, Shmuel decided to retaliate with kindness instead of more violence. You can also sign up for a great free newsletter that showcases stories of kindness from around the world from over 40,000 people. Below is part of an email that Shmuel recently sent me:

“Last week, one of my Kindness advisors sent me an e-mail link to an article in the New York Times about how medical researches have found that acts of kindness stimulate the brain in the same place that physical pleasures do. So now medical researchers have shown that doing kindness causes enjoyment. From this you can see one way that I cope with tragedy – I receive tremendous pleasure by promoting kindness.

My favorite author on kindness is Zelig Pliskin. In his book Kindness, he presents eighty-five techniques to find new opportunities to do kindness by improving yourself and improving the world around you. In one chapter he explains how you can feel the thrill of an international sports victory every day if you visualize 100,000 people applauding for you and cheering you on when you do an act of kindness. Studies have shown that our hormonal system has actual biochemical responses even though the victory is totally a figment of our imagination.”

http://www.PartnersInKindness.org Shmuel Greenbaum

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doonenicething.com

Orlando, Florida,

A place of Disney magic, roller coasters and gator basketball. We arrived Monday evening and already, sadly, we are waiting to leave for our next destination this Wednesday morning. However, our stay was short but full of kindness. Early Tuesday had us speaking to employees from the Orlando regional office for the software giant SAS. We then combined forces with all their great local staff and spent the remainder of the day volunteering at the local Girls and Boys club. The highlight of the day for me was burying a 1 yr. Time Capsule, filled with goals and ideas for making the world a better place from over 40 children. 365 days from now, the children, and hopefully many SAS employee’s, will return to the past and look at what their year has accomplished. This is just another example of putting one good idea into action. My challenge to everyone today is to go to the website, doonenicething.com and enter one of your own ideas that can help make our world a better place.

Please also send your stories to us at Extreme Kindness and continue to let us know of the great websites that are out there changing the world.

B-rad

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Imagine

Imagine that you are sleeping.

You are lying in the most comfortable bed. You are warm and completely at peace. Now just imagine that a bucket of ice-cold water is thrown over your entire body.

Brrrrrrr! Time to wake up!

Life can be like that sometimes. One minute you are happily moving to a dream song and then suddenly rudely awakened to reality by a cold dose of awareness.

This happens to me on a regular basis. I think because I am at heart a dreamer and believer. I see the best in people and the world around me before I see anything else. But there are times when I must alter my optimistic approach and be aware of all the shades and colors of a picture.

The Kindness Crew was recently in Winnipeg working with the company IG and its employees on some community volunteer initiatives. At one point the OKC were in charge of revolving groups of 20 plus people painting a inner city shelter and resource center for the less fortunate. After painting, the Director of the center gave the four of us a tour of the facilities. In 10 minutes I looked into the faces of some very desperate smiling people. Recovering alcoholics and drug users, homeless looking for food and rest as well as the odd arrested public disturber. That was the most disturbing part of the tour for myself. We visited the drunk tank and learned that many people were brought here daily by the police to calm down after a celebratory night. Each cell had a matt and a hole in the ground to either throw up or “do their business” in. These in ground toilettes were flushed from the outside. Every cell stunk of human waste. I walked into one, closed the door and almost had a complete instant panic attack. “So this is where many people hit rock bottom”. I thought to myself. “What would it take to end up in a place like this?”

I found myself suddenly thinking of what it must be like to constantly live in such a state. I then tried to imagine living in poverty in a country such as Africa. Where every day countless people die of sickness and despair. Standing in that cell just for a few minutes had for a brief moment connected me to the possibility of losing all hope.

I took a deep breath and slowly walked out of the cell. Okay, time to dream again. But I want all the dreamers out there to realize that the purpose of dreaming is not to forget the world we live in. We must dream and continue to hope in order to make our world a better place in which to live.

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