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Kindness

Aug 16, 2019

About 20 years ago, I had one of the best bosses that I’ve had in my entire working career.  Ross had a way of working with people that was amazing.  Whenever I interacted with him, I walked away feeling great about working for him.  More important, I felt great about myself.  This isn’t to say that Ross was a pushover.  We worked hard for eight solid hours every day.  If a person was not up to snuff, he would take corrective measures–even firing people if they were not up to their job.  But, there was just something about his personality and management style that made us all look forward to Monday morning on Friday afternoon.

I’ve often thought about Ross and wondered what made him so special.  I’ve thought of his various personality traits and tried to dissect how he created such an amazing place to work.  On the plus side, he knew his industry inside and out, and knew every facet of the business.  Another plus—he had a really awful sense of humor.  He could not tell a joke to save his life—it was funny to watch him destroy a joke.  One major negative was that he didn’t manage project timelines well and we were constantly in crisis mode to get projects completed by their deadline. 

The thing that I think made Ross so special was that he was truly and sincerely kind.  You could sense his absolute concern for your well-being and that of others.  Even when he had to discipline a staff member, he did so with such kindness that you walked away thankful for learning how to improve yourself.

What is kindness?  According to Wikipedia, kindness is a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern and consideration for others. It is considered a virtue, and is recognized as a value in many cultures and religions.

Some people believe that a kind person cannot be strong.  But, I think that it takes exceptional strength to be truly kind.  Ask any parent—how hard is it to tell your child ‘no’ when you know that is the right answer, but you want to give your child everything?  Spoiling your child is definitely not kindness.  Being kind can be hard.

There have been studies in recent years that indicate that being kind is good for your health.  Research shows that people who witness acts of kindness produce oxytocin, which can aid in lowering blood pressure and improve heart health.  Performing acts of kindness can stimulate the production of serotonin, which aids in healing wounds and increases feelings of well-being.  There is evidence that kindness lowers the amount of cortisol in your system, which lowers stress levels and slows the effects of aging.

There is an initiative on the North Shore called “The Kindness Project.”  This group has been meeting over the past several months to discuss the concept of kindness, and how we can incorporate more kindness into our everyday lives and even into our public policy.

The organizers of The Kindness Project have organized a series of Kindness Cafes, where community members are invited to a free dinner and given the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences around kindness and make recommendations on next steps for incorporating kindness as a way of life.  Municipal and community leaders have been encouraged to join in this discussion.

The third Kindness Café dinner will be held this Sunday, August 18, at 4:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, located at 10 Church Street in downtown Gloucester.  There will be a buffet style dinner and conversation focused on the concept of kindness.  All are welcome, however the organizers have requested RSVP to assist with planning. 

For more information about The Kindness Project or to RSVP for the dinner, visit their website www.the-kindness-project.org or find them at Facebook.com/thekindnessprojectCA.