Throughout the ages, religious and secular leaders have emphasized the importance of kindness. For millennia, parents have taught their children the Golden Rule, or its equivalent, in homes throughout the world. And what is at the root of the Golden Rule if not kindness?
Kindness has a way of transcending differences. For example, only 1 percent of U.S. residents are Buddhists, according to a 2016 survey done by the Public Religion Research Institute. But when exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama speaks, people of diverse backgrounds listen. One of my favorite quotes of his is, "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."
I bring this up now because with so much strife in the world, and many challenges ahead, I think each of us can make a difference in what type of society we will shape going forward. One thing we can do is act with kindness.
We know, of course, that kindness is a positive attribute and cruelty is the opposite. No one would argue with that. But how many of us are consciously emphasizing kindness day-to-day in every aspect of our lives including home, business and community interactions?
We, in the payments business, have chosen this career path to make a good living. True enough. But in our daily sales and service interactions, can we also choose to make a good life for ourselves and those doing business with us? Can we remember to thank the people who set up appointments for executives we want to reach? Can we choose to brighten the day of sales associates who ring up our purchases? Can we think before we comment on social media posts?
Numerous studies have found there's good reason to infuse our days with kindness. A 2018 study described by Calvin Holbrook in "The power of kindness — why being nice benefits us all," published by happiness.com, noted that employees at a Spanish company were asked either to perform acts of kindness for colleagues or to count the number of kind acts they received from co-workers.
"The results showed that those who received acts of kindness became happier, demonstrating the value of benevolence for the receiver," Holbrook wrote. "However, those who delivered the acts of kindness benefited even more than the receivers. ... [N]ot only did they show a similar trend towards increased happiness, but they also had a boost in life and job satisfaction, as well as decrease in depression."
The study also noted that people on the receiving end of kindness spontaneously paid it forward, doing nice things for other colleagues. "This study suggests the ripple effect really is one of the benefits of being nice."
Much that goes on in the world is beyond our control. The way we treat others is absolutely ours to control. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "You cannot do a kindness too soon for you never know how soon it will be too late."
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