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I call myself a “kindness instigator.” But I’m getting ahead of myself. My name is Gabriella van Rij and I am a speaker, author, and activist for kindness. An activist is a person who campaigns for some kind of social change. Through my life experiences—first being adopted from Pakistan into a Dutch family, and then growing up in a culture where I was bullied for my skin color—I have learned the importance of kindness both through its presence and by experiencing its absence.
The last week or so, I’ve heard non-stop how glad people are that 2016 is over and how much they wish that 2017 is better than 2016. If you are feeling this way, then guess what? There is something you personally can do to make it a better year for yourself and others. Kindness is the habit you want to cultivate. Kindness is so much more than a fluffy concept for quote posters. It’s a practical skill that will help you in both your personal and your business life. It goes beyond that, too, in making people feel accepted and safe. I’m sure we can all agree these are worthwhile goals?
But where to start? Here are 4 simple steps that will help you make kindness a habit in your life.
Step 1: Be kind to yourself.
It’s hard to have the patience to be kind to others if we can’t even take the time to be kind to ourselves. When you are feeling low, wouldn’t you give just about anything for some kindness to be shown to you? It’s hard to show kindness to others when you haven’t been taking care of yourself and meeting your own emotional needs. Kindness starts with being kind to you.
Step 2: Answer rudeness with kindness.
When someone is rude to you, the first thing you do is instantly react and not always in a positive way. And the second thing you do is say “It’s about me. They were nasty to me.” But it’s not about you, it’s about the emotion. By answering rudeness with kindness, you diffuse the situation and there’s also a certain satisfaction in seeing the change in the attitude of the person who was rude.
Step 3: Watch your delivery.
Often, people think kindness is about saying things you don’t mean, or telling everyone they are beautiful. This is not true! It’s about your tone of voice, your delivery, how you say things, even your presence. At times it just means going a bit slower to acknowledge those you meet during your day, which communicates respect. The tone that accompanies your words is as important as what you are saying.
Step 4: Praise it when you see it.
The more you practice searching out and acknowledging the kind deeds of others, the more you will recognize times in your own life where you can lend a hand. When you acknowledge the kind acts you see, that person will be encouraged to continue to spread kindness. Acknowledging kindness in others also will serve as a reminder to you about how you can show kindness.
ABOUT GABRIELLA VAN RIJ
The leading voice of the Kindness movement, Gabriella van Rij (www.gabriella.global) is a speaker, author & activist for kindness whose presentations blend humor, original analogies and her life story to create a rare perspective-shifting experience that speaks to all and that provides the tools audiences need for more productive relationships. She has published three books, With All My Might, her autobiography. I Can Find My Might is her autobiography for children. Watch Your Delivery is her third and latest book on the secrets to effective communication. Gabriella has been seen by millions on Dr. Phil, ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX. She is a member of Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce.