From Michael Knowlton: Kindness is a beautiful thing, both as the recipient, and as the giver. Living with cancer (WM) in my life has reminded me of the importance of being a force for good and working every day to make a difference for others. This video is part of a first-ever global Speaking Competition with almost 100 entries! Twelve of us will move forward to compete on June 18th in front of 4 prestigious judges (virtually) for a chance to win the title of Inspirational Speaker of the Year! An additional four speakers will be selected based on audience votes.
Click here to watch Michael’s video. Please read below for the video transcript:
I mean, how hard is it to be kind, really? We’re all creatures of habit, and we behave in a certain pattern and a certain manner because it works for us, or does it?
Harvard Business School did a happiness study where they looked at 136 countries and they spoke to those people about their feelings and what happened when they were kind.
It turns out that the pleasure center of our brains actually lights up through an act of kindness. Endorphins are released in our brains, which are the brain’s natural painkiller. There’s a lot of upside to us for actually being kind. Not only in the way that it makes the other person feel, but in how we feel. People who exhibit acts of kindness say that their energy goes up, that their whole ability to feel good is higher.
It turns out that people who are perpetually kind actually have less cortisol in their body. Cortisol is that stress hormone. It has all kinds of negative factors that it actually plays out in our bodies.
I am a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with cancer 13 years ago, a very rare blood disease (WM). Three years ago it moved into my central nervous system around my brain and my brain stem. Most people with this condition remain alive for weeks or months. For me it’s been over three years. You can imagine I’m counting my blessings.
My wife Lynne is very active on social media, and tells our story there. The kindness that we receive from other people is mind-blowing. People send us direct messages; they send us gifts; they send us love and prayers. Part of what we realized is all of that energy that they are putting out and sending our way is all about kindness. It’s about making a difference for others. We’re all energy beings; they’re bundling that stuff up and sending it across, and it’s being received and captured and washed over us. It’s a big part of why I’m alive.
And so kindness is such a beautiful thing. That’s what we try to do. That’s how we try to live our lives. Not only in our own relationships with our children, and with our friends, but with complete strangers. I mean, really, what’s the downside? If it brings us joy and satisfaction and happiness, why wouldn’t we do it? It’s not difficult. It’s not hard, and yet somehow we lose the idea of paying attention to it. We don’t say to somebody, “Man I like how you’re thinking about that. You’re really smart, I never would have thought of that, that’s a cool idea!” But we ought to. Anything that we can do or say to uplift another person… It’s a gift that we can give. It doesn’t cost us a penny.
We need to be kind to ourselves first and foremost. Stop beating ourselves up in our heads about what we’re messing up on, how our money is never in the right space and our career isn’t going. The news narrative takes us down. We’ve got a part of our brain that’s constantly scanning, are we safe? And if we’re not, it puts us into the mode of fight or flight or freeze, and here we are, we’re kind of all anxious and wrapped up. How about we just let go of that stuff?
The world is always going to go on around us. And yet, how do we pay attention to other people in a way that somehow or other uplifts them, makes them feel better about themselves? And collectively, all of us together form the unity, form the culture, form the village, and what’s a better thing to have than love, compassion and kindness?
And lo and behold, you’ll have more happiness, you’ll have a healthier heart, and you’ll even live longer.
How can you argue with that?