by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

Kindness Is So Refreshing... and Healthy

I can’t write at the office — too many interruptions. So every couple of weeks I spend $4 and 6 hours at Starbucks, where I dig into ideas I’ve been mulling for some time. Recently, I’ve been thinking about outrage and its negative health consequences.


As I started to write this article a young man who’d put his backpack on the table next to me — but not yet received his double latte — observed a mom and her 3 little girls looking for a place to settle. Noticing they had coloring books and no remaining tables to use, he offered to give up his spot and instead sit on the lounge chair. It was a simple, in-the-moment kindness that made the mom happy, brought a smile to my face, and immediately changed my disposition... along with this article.


Kindness is an underrated health activity. And with all of the negativity in politics, entertainment, and social media constantly washing over us we need it now more than ever.


Kindness — whether giving, witnessing, or receiving — can decrease depression, anxiety, blood pressure, stress, and even pain. Regular givers also report greater energy, happiness, and pleasure than those less inclined to express kindness. And there’s even evidence to suggest helpers live longer, with fewer chronic conditions later in life than non-helpers.


Unfortunately, there are perceptions among many in business and politics: “Kindness equals weakness.” “You can’t be kind and competitive at the same time.” “If you’re considerate, then you’re soft.” “If you’re pleasant, you’re not assertive.” “If you’re humble, it means you lack confidence.”


Emphasizing kindness in your well-being program takes courage. But with all the benefits kindness offers, you could actually make an argument for it being the centerpiece. To get started, read our post: How to Launch a Workplace Kindness Campaign.


I want to share a thought from the late Bill Baun — one of the most caring, dedicated, and kind people I’ve ever known — commenting on another giant in workplace well-being, Dee Edington.


Caring is a value and a big deal at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Over the years we have held random acts of kindness days, weeks, and sometimes months. They have a deep meaning...


Several weeks ago I was at a CDC event with Dee Edington; he and I were addressing leadership. Dee did what he has so often done for this field: making a statement that made us all stop and reflect. “We have to move past a culture of health, and consider how we create and sustain cultures of caring.” He refers to cultures where employees take responsibility for caring for themselves and their families, where teams support and care for each other, and the organization has a value of caring and sets up an environment where the easy choice is the caring choice. Kindness is one of the blossoms in a caring culture.


Comments   

# Ellen Brewster 2017-12-15 16:15
Dean, once again I read your blog post and smiled, you nailed it!
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