BE HAPPY

 

In over 20 years of being involved in leadership roles, within church and in business. And in my 7 years of coaching professional females, being a wife and mother of four, and from my own personal valleys and mountains of life, I have discovered a few things.  

One thing that I would like to share with you from personal experience is that there are generally three categories of things which impact our happiness as human beings.

First, there are the things which we are told, that be can't changed. These are usually things which relate to natural law. (Although science is challenging some of these long held beliefs).

Secondly, there are those things, which through consensus, and effort can be changed over time. An example of this would be changes to legislation.

And thirdly there are those things which can change now.

My focus here will be on one of those things which can be changed right now.  It is very much within our sphere of influence, and has the potential to bring positive change instantly.

We all want to experience more happiness. And this one behaviour can have a significant impact on our overall happiness.

It’s in a word. I’ll get to the word shortly, but I am an etymology geek, so please indulge me for a moment.

In language, popular word usage can often reflect particular cultural values.

For example, there is a German word which has no counterpart in the English language, so cannot be translated. This word is ‘Feierabend’ (pronounced Fire- Ar- Bend).  It refers to free time at the end of the work day; which is so strictly adhered to that there may be no compulsion for further work to be done. Feierabend represents a historical trade union victory for Germans. And also represents a national value for wellbeing. Yay Germany……

Is it any wonder that Germany is among the 10 most productive countries in the world? (I’m just saying).

Anyways. Back to English.

There are 171, 500 words in the English language.

Among the 500 most used words is the word which is the subject of this topic.

It’s the word kind. The dictionary defines kind as ‘of a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person’.

Kindness has been proven to significantly influence our personal happiness, and has been the subject of 21 Oxford University studies. The conclusion of which is, “being kind to others makes us happier”. Sounds pretty basic right?

But there’s more. Research shows that kindness to others, is specifically beneficial to our own mental health, stress reduction and overall physical health.

And when we feel better it has been proven by research from the University of Warwick, that happy people are 12 percent more productive in their work than unhappy people. (Yay Germany?).

It is no surprise then, that the positive effects of kindness have been so widely researched.

 

Kindness boosts the chemical neurotransmitter serotonin, responsible for wellbeing and happiness.

When we are happy, it boosts our immune system, reduces pain and may even help us to live longer.

When we are happy we are also more fun to be around.

Neuroscience suggests that when we see a person expressing a particular emotion, it instantly activates a part of our brain that mirrors that same emotion, as if it were our own.

So if you want to be really influential, you could smile. A lot.

Harvard Business School research has found that “Leaders who project warmth are more effective than people who lead with toughness”.

Team members are motivated by kindness.  The Zenger Folkman study which followed 51,836 leaders, determined that the leaders who were most liked, were most liked for their “warmth”, and unsurprisingly were also the most effective in their leadership role.

Maybe more surprisingly is the findings of a U.K study which revealed that eight in ten Brits, would refuse a higher paid role, if it meant working with people they did not perceive to be kind. Pay was actually much lower on the scale of factors determining whether Brits stay in their current job.

So hopefully by now the value of kindness for us as individuals has been well established. And you can undoubtedly see the connection between kindness and happiness both personally and professionally.

I want to go on to suggest that there are only two types of opportunities for you to express kindness.

 

1.  YOURSELF

 

To begin, I think it is important to recognise that in order for kindness to be authentic, it first needs to be expressed in acts of kindness towards ourselves.  Most are familiar with the ancient injunction:

 

“Love your neighbour as yourself” (The Bible, The Book of Mark, Chapter 12 verse 31)

But how do you love yourself?  what does kindness look like to you? And what is your love language?

The ancient Greek aphorism "know thyself", rings true.

Here is a tool to help you along in this journey of self-discovery.

Take the quiz on the website   https://www.5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/        

When you have begun to identify how you personally express and receive kindness, be sure to be kind to yourself.

Now to the second type of opportunity we have to express. kindness.

 

2.  OTHERS

When you know yourself, and are true to yourself, only then can kindness authentically be expressed to others.

A definition of Authenticity is ‘the quality of being real or true’.

 

I’m not suggesting that we wait until we are fully developed in kindness to self, before we are kind to others. We can do both simultaneously. But what I am saying is, that without first having regard for our ‘own mental health, stress reduction, emotional and physical health, we will be extremely limited in how much we can give to others. Conversely when our tank is full we have the fuel necessary for a really joyful journey.

I know it can be challenging especially with all the demands of everyday life, but if we prioritise being deeply compassionate and kind to ourselves, and are mindful of the huge benefits; with practice it can become second nature.

 

Interestingly whilst writing this, I have been interrupted several times by each of my four children in turn, who all, (but one), are independent enough to get on with it while Mum is working.  But thankfully I’ve been doing my homework and was mindful of my topic, and for the sake of ‘authenticity’, I dutifully and patiently responded to their ‘urgent’ requests with patient kindness. Lol.

 

Anne Herbert famously wrote "practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty".

Here are some suggestions of random acts of kindness that you can show to others:

·       Find out what their love language is and express kindness to them in their language.

·       Pay them a sincere compliment, and qualify it. For example, “I’ve noticed that you are a good listener, (compliment) you never interrupt others when they are speaking.” (qualifying observation).

This type of evidence based compliment, will both be very encouraging and very impactful.

·       If it’s a stranger, you can give warm smile. (Keep it genuine, but you might do well to avoid prolonged eye contact just in case it gets misinterpreted as weird or creepy.

You might also like to visit the random acts of kindness website for some more ideas, and even sign up to be RAKTIVIST

https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas#

Finally, if you will rise to the challenge, you like many others will discover the naturally occurring bliss that comes from kindness.

Be kind. Be successful.

 

“Kind people are the best kind of people”

Unknown