Extreme Kindness

Extreme Kindness

Connecting the world through kindness.

Bestselling authors, corporate trainers and internationally acclaimed advocates for social change, the Kindness Crew is sparking a global revolution in kindness. From audiences at Fortune 500 Companies to entire metropolitan centers, the Crew has inspired and mobilized millions to commit acts of community service.

Can a kind life make you happier?

Yes! According to Harvard educator, Tal Ben-Shahar. Dr. Shahar has done something I thought to be impossible and many academics probably thought absurd to teach a course on happiness! The course has become the most popular class at the ivy-league school, highlighting an overwhelming need to teach people how to live well.

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Dr. Shahar is part of an ever-growing body of researchers, scientists and professionals, who are moving away from asking the question of what makes us sick and replacing this with what make a person happy? The movement is grounded in the new research of positive psychology which is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive.

One of the more remarkable books I devoured in the past year was his book Happier.
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In this easy to read to guide of the new science of positive psychology, he explores the research illuminating how a person can increase their happiness. One topic addressed is how cultivating feelings of being kind can help a person feel better.

Tal walks the reader through an exercise called, Meditating on Benevolence. Without even needing to go out and connect with someone, you can reflect on a time when you acted with kindness towards another. He asks you to remember how you felt appreciated for this kind act. Next, you visualize what the person’s response was. Also, you can focus on your own feelings during this exchange and allow them to fill you. As you bring into your awareness both your own positive feelings and the person served you can dissolve the division between helper and the person being helped. By doing this you begin to realize in every exchange of love both people are able to experience more positive feelings. Finally, you can imagine future acts of generosity in the future and feel the benefits spilling over to everyone.

This simple exercise can help you to experience a greater sense of calm, connection and happiness. In practicing this meditation, I am reminded again, Happiness comes from within.

In this video, a broad overview of the work being done by Tal is given.

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How do you connect an entire continent through kindness?

You get on your bike and cycle through as many communities in the USA and Canada as possible spreading the kind-word! Yes, he has done it again: Brock Tully a.k.a, the Brock-Star has embarked on another life-changing, road-grinding 18,000 km, 9 month solo journey to change the world!

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Brock’s mission is titled, KINDNESS…Cycle it Forward, and he is working to raise awareness for a kinder world.

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His mission is to:

  • To create a Culture of Kindness that inspires each of us to be kind and to
  • become the change we wish to see in the world.

Certainly Brock is doing this one pedal push and kind word at a time. Brock, is a veritable Ghandi – a man who has given his life in pursuit of spreading the simple but power message of kindness.

I may not be able to change the world I see around me but I can change the way I see the world, within me.
- Brock Tully

When ever I think of Brock, for some strange, tangential reason I remember the I want to be like Mike commercials. I can’t help but think what humans could do if they could just Be like Brock!

5 top ways to be like Brock

  1. Grow an incredible mustache!
  2. Live you message: get off the couch, away from the computer (yes me!) and out into the world to help!
  3. Be well, make sure you make ample time for your health. Brock’s journey is a testimant to his commitment to his own physical wellness.
  4. Get outside, run, cycle, hike or plain walk your walk your way to a kinder world. Each moment you spend outside and out of your car will be a moment not wasted!
  5. Take risk: Brock is always ready to drop everything for a cause he believes in! How many of us can say the same?

If you want to see Brock in action watch this powerful video compilation.

Want to have Brock rock your next presentation? Visit his website: www.brocktully.com

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Your Top Ten

Write down your top 10!

Leading psychologists and experts often state the importance of having strong healthy relationships to experience a healthy and happy lifestyle. More then wealth, success or circumstance, happiness and health will be largely a result of the people we choose to spend time with.

The rankings of which people primed happiness: page 312, Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman.

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(In order of importance)
Friends
Relatives
Spouse or partner
Children
Clients or customers
Coworkers
Boss
Being alone

A B-rad Exercise / Tool for being Happy:

Write Down The Top Ten People You Connect With. Briefly describe how they help you connect to Health and Happiness.

Your goal with this tool is to optimize your time spent with these people and focus on constantly nourishing these relationships. You should write, talk or see each of your top 5 at least once a week.

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2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

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Just Connect with nature

In my search to understand how better to use the internet as both and educational and proactive medium, I stumbled upon an another profound presentation series called tries to bring together people and inspire them to go do something!

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The Do Lectures is an antidote to the collective apathy of our generation and another bold step to providing information to get people off the couch and out connecting with people and nature. Speakers at the gathering offered tools and insights into how they take action in their own life. Lifestyle design expert Timothy Ferris of the The Four Hour Work Week presented, along with ever-intriguing Yun Hider, a professional forager, who in his own words has spent the last thirteen years foraging.

In his talk he shares simple strategies to help people reconnect to the land and use local plant to provide sustenance. Yun is a connector par-excellence and he pulls at the sense of the audience, giving them a chance to taste his foraged foods. Audience members immediately are able to experience the culinary potential of their back woods!

Yun praises the art of pausing in nature. He explains how foraging takes time and this helps to forge a new relationship to the land. His simple tools include guide books, medicinal books, wild food books which he is constantly refers to on his sojourns.

Yun currently has a few projects including Mountain Food a business which distributes foraged food Mountain Food and another, titled Precious Planet. Precious planet is a: non profit-making organisation committed to preserving areas of vital biodiversity. In order to do this, Precious Planet carries out specific projects aimed at protecting and regenerating marine and terrestrial biodiversity.

Our Precious Planet project is based on a simple concept of connecting students and linking schools by having students map out their local environment to help them understand the natural environment and their impact on this space.

  1. Mapping their local Area: people, plants and pollution.
  2. Calculate their ecological footprint.
  3. Plant a tree.

My big do inspired from the conference, include:

  1. to connect my local school with the Precious Planet project
  2. spend time looking over guidebooks before and during my time in nature
  3. research what I can start to forage for food in my local environment
  4. connect with the Do conference as a participant or speaker.

What you can do:

  1. Stage your own Do it Lecture Series.
  2. Take the ideas from their lectures and spread them through action or in the form of stories.
  3. Do it: think of your own small ways to take action.

Everyone knows they should take action, the smaller and more manageable the better to begin with. Once you feel with the small stuff, you won’t sweat the big actions in your life.

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The Power of Optimism

When they are depressed, many people withdraw, pull the shades, twist into a cocoon, and stop seeing their friends. This is the worst possible thing to do. - Alan loy McGinnis The Power of Optimism

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I absolutely loved finding this book hidden away in the public library downtown Victoria BC.

I have personally noticed that many people, friends, family and co-workers, have withdrawn or tried to isolate themselves, when emotionally or physically injured.

When I was younger and got hurt I would try to isolate myself and instead of healing I would instead nurse my pain, hurt, fear or anger. Luckily for me I quickly discovered that spending time with my friends was the cure all for any injury.

But the only reason I was able to access this was because my friends would not take no for an answer. When I walked with a cane for almost two years Chris and Erik would force me to go on hikes with them, where they would even take turns carrying me over the rough terrain. When my mother died, my friends were all in the room with me and a few weeks later forced me onto a plane headed to Mexico and surfing adventures.

These solid friendships allowed me to feel constantly connected to love and life’s laughter. You can always find a way to heal if you are laughing and feeling connected to the world and people around you. SO if you have a friend who is trying to hide away, go drag them out into the sun!

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Connection Exercise:

Jump up and down and try to be angry or sad. It is hard to do. Think about when you tell a tearful child to smile and they instantly stop crying. You have the ability to take control of your level of optimism. Just jump.

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Why Good Things Happen to Good People

We all have wondered by good things happen to bad people, but Stephen Post has revealed in his new book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People, the science supporting the benefits of being good.

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Stephen is the head of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, an organization dedicating to advancing research connected to love. Stephen outlines, several ways to give in your life including, Celebration, Generativity, Forgiveness, Courage, Humor, Respect, Compassion, Loyalty, Listening and Creativity. Stephen has used this platform of good to look at the connection between being good and being healthy.

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Celebration, as defined in the book, is an acknowledgement of shared joy that positively affects people around us, and reflects gratitude. Celebration is understood as a giving action, which can be practiced and enhanced.

This virtue can take the form of gratitude and nurtured daily through rituals and actions.

Everyone has something to celebrate in their lives, no matter how clouded they are from the challenges of life. Celebration ultimately is a choice to perceive the events of your life and the world, in an empowering way. Too often we overlook the actions, events and people in our life that add beauty, joy and wonder.

There are many ways to celebrate our life, one of the easiest I can recommend – which takes very little time – is to write down beautiful quotes that remind you of the magnificence of life. The prominent psychologist, Abraham Maslow (who developed the hierarch of needs) reflected on the importance of gratitude saying we must,

appreciate again and again freshly and naively, the basic goods of life with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy. -Abraham Maslow

I have developed the ritual of writing down and reflecting daily on a least one thing in my life I am grateful for. At first, I found this process easy to do, but it did not have the emotional impact I was hoping or expecting. However, as I have continued to practice this daily, I now look forward to and get excited about this simple reflective process. I needed to overcome the inertia of my current state of awareness, to connect the events of my life with a feeling of deep gratitude.

The big question is how do we celebrate in healthy ways?
We must learn to Celebrate Good times and the Bad.

Here are 5 simple ways to celebrate your life:

  1. Take time to write an email to a family member to thank them for the help they have given you.
  2. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in years and let them know how they have influenced your life.
  3. Write down a list of ten characteristics you believe are your strongest.
  4. Make celebration a ritual: choose at least one day a week, to do something you know makes you feel celebrated.
  5. Nurture through Nature: make time each week to get out into the green and reconnect with Nature.

Hike, Bike or Walk!
Make a gratitude list. Here is a list I made over the past week of things I was grateful for in my life:

  • Consistency with my goals setting
  • Having a loving partner who always supports me.
  • Taking the time Daily to Exercise
  • Educating students
  • The Blazing sunsets in front of my house

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What is your gratitude list?

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The Encroacher – Even CEO’s Need Help

It is easy to forget when you are working for someone, that they too are merely human and need help from you to connect effectively each day.

https://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/~soc186/AssignedReadings/Axmith-Coaching.pdf

This article defines 4 typical areas where a CEO / Leader in business might struggle. Today I would like to look at one in particular.

“THE ENCROACHER”

“The CEO of a large communications company was working 70 hours a week, and as a result he was tired, tense and short-tempered. By the CEO’s own definition of leadership-”the ability to inspire others to work toward objectives which they have come to accept as their own”-this individual was clearly failing. He was a living example of, “How can I hope to inspire others when I feel burnt out and uninspired myself?” ”

The main problem stemmed from his/her need to micro manage.

It was found that the CEO was “encroaching on areas of the business that were clearly the functional responsibility of his direct reports, causing duplication, resentment and animosity.”

Through coached meetings the CEO and the people working for him directly were able to realign their responsibilities. From the top down the CEO and the entire organization learned the value of being kind to one self and ones co-workers and the effect it would have on each persons ability to connect with their colleagues and leaders.

In any relationship you have to have TRUST in order to connect. You have to realize that people will sometimes move towards a common goal in their own manner. Learn to step back and support for certain periods of time. Set milestones and benchmarks but give the people above and beside you the chance to get there on their own terms if possible.

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Authentic Leadership

I thought I would take a quick look at leadership today and what it means. A great paper to read on the subject is:

What’s your story? A life-stories approach to authentic leadership development
Boas Shamira, T, Galit Eilamb, 1
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 91905, Israel
School of Business Administration, Ono Academic College, 104 Zahal Street, Kiryat Ono, Israel

https://www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/~soc186/AssignedReadings/Shamir-Stories.pdf

In this paper, the subject of authentic leadership is discussed in detail. The authors describe leaders as having “achieved a high level of self-resolution ( Turner, 1976) or self-concept clarity, which
refers to the extent to which one’s self-beliefs are clearly and confidently defined and internally
consistent”.

Who has had a leader in business, school or sports where the person/captain/boss/teacher was inconsistent in their values? I found it personally impossible to remain inspired by such people. While they might have been impressive from the get go, it soon becomes apparent that unauthentic leaders lack substance and are one day shows. They may say and appear to do all the right things from an initial meeting but over time the people being led start to lose faith in the strength of their leaders values.

A leader must know who he or she is without room for constant doubt. They must be able to connect with themselves first and foremost on a daily level. This will enable them to connect with the people they lead.

“As people become more certain of their self-conceptions, they are more inclined to rely on these conceptions to organize their experiences, predict future events, and guide behavior (Swann, 1990). For these reasons, stable and coherent self-concepts provide authentic leaders with a critically important source of coherence, and a framework for defining their existence, organizing experience, predicting future
events, and guiding social interactions (Swann & Schroeder, 1995; Swann, Rentfrow, & Quinn,
2003).”

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Kindness Rocks: www.kindnessrocks.net

“Kindness Rocks is an initiative to help stop violence and bullying in schools and communities throughout the world by inspiring youth to take kind and positive action on a daily basis, and to let them know how important their individual contribution is to the world as a whole.”

www.kindnessrocks.net/whatiskindnessrocks.html

A friend of mine, Brock Tully, who I call the ‘Brock’ Star of kindness made me aware of this incredible group. www.brocktully.com

Check it out and get inspired.

B-RAD

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Just Breathe

This past weekend Brad and I spoke to a group of volunteers at the 2008 Vitalize conference in Edmonton. One of the topics we addressed with the enthusiastic group was health. For anyone in the world of service, learning how to find balance and restore energy is imperative. Essentially, a person must learn to be well to ensure they are able to function properly and to serve others in the workplace, at home and in the community.

Every time I step onto a plane, I am reminded of the necessity of taking care of self before others. At the beginning of the flight the steward announced the safety instructions of the airplane including, in the event of an emergency, and a loss of oxygen in the cabin, an clear mask will drop from the ceiling. If you are with a small child, please remember to place the mask on yourself first. A Simple message, that transfers into the rest of our lives. When we experience stress, or challenges in our life and we always do, we must remember to take care of ourselves, or our stress, like having no oxygen will incapacitate us.

A simple tool to help release stress and calm the body is called, diaphragmatic breathing. Complicate name, simple technique! This exercise involves breathing deeply from our belly, instead of our chest, where we tend breath from to as a result of stress. The miracle of this method is that where the breath goes, the body follows. During stress, our sympathetic nervous system is over-stimulated producing an increased heart rate, perspiration, muscle tension and breathing. As we slow down the breath and take in more oxygen, all of these stress responses decrease and we begin to feel calmer and more relaxed.

The next time you feel overwhelmed or stresses, just breath deeply.

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