Linda Cohen, “Kindness Catalyst” and Author
“The only constant in life is change.” – Heraclitus
Perhaps you are beginning this new year with a little bit of hope again. I hope you made time to replenish your tank during the final days of the year. As the calendar changes to a new year, it feels like a fresh start.
This has been such a hard and challenging time for humanity. Many people are hurting so badly right now. Emotionally and physically people feel exhausted and depleted. There have been so many times these past couple of years it has felt like hope was in short supply. However, don’t we always live in uncertain times? Perhaps now we feel it more than ever, but certainty in life is a bit of an illusion. That’s why the phrase, “The only constant in life is change” is repeated frequently. Change we can always bank on, certainty, however, we cannot!
As we begin a new year, perhaps it’s time to actively begin again and to acknowledge that certainty isn’t a given.
We have a couple of ways we can start fresh this new year to elevate our own kindness practices. First let’s start with ourselves.
Creating ways to love yourself is not selfish. When we travel on a plane, they always ask us to put on our own oxygen masks first and then attend to others. This is the same with self-care. Our act of loving kindness helps us tremendously. Then and only then can we attend to someone else.
An easy practice to start with your own self care is “Covering Your B.A.S.E.S”. It’s simple to remember and implement every day.
BASE stands for:
- Body — What am I doing today for my body? Physical, spiritual, emotional — do something today to nourish your body. Eat well, get some fresh air, exercise, pray, meditate, pause, enjoy a refreshing shower or a relaxing bath. Read or listen to something that uplifts your spirits.
- Accomplishments — What am I accomplishing today? This doesn’t have to be a huge accomplishment. Folding laundry, making a pot of soup, or organizing a drawer counts as an accomplishment. If it works for you, make a list with a checkbox and physically check it off every day once you complete the task. That physical action of checking the box signals that you have accomplished something and can make a difference in your wellbeing.
- Social Connection — Who am I connecting with today? Phone, text, FaceTime and Zoom. We have multiple ways to make sure we get social connections every day even if we can’t physically visit with our varied connections.
Enjoy — Do at least one thing you enjoy every single day. This could overlap with any of the actions you’ve taken for the previous letters. It’s wonderful to enjoy something you have done for your body, your daily accomplishment, or that social connection you made. Just do one thing you enjoy today.
Second, what are we doing to cultivate kindness with others? When you engage in acts of kindness, actively looking for ways you can give more of your time, talent and perhaps treasure, each day it will help you live a happier life. Did you know that? The research continues to show that kindness increases your happiness because it stimulates the production of serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Perhaps that’s not surprising to you, but you might not realize it also has been found as well that doing acts of kindness decreases our stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression. That’s right; engaging in acts of kindness everyday can help with all of that.
So why not set a new goal to look for one act of kindness you could do every day. The size of the kindness doesn’t necessarily matter. It’s okay to keep it small and simple, a compliment is great, holding the door, smiling, actively listening to someone, helping a stranger or a neighbor. Don’t stop yourself from doing something small and simple, because that could make a world of difference to the recipient right now; you just don’t know what’s going on for them. I had an attendee compliment me in chat last month while I was about to deliver a virtual program. It was three days after our beloved family dog had died, and that small kind gesture meant so much to me that morning when I feared I wouldn’t be able to keep it together to present my program.
You may or may not realize it but there is often a ripple effect from an act of kindness. That person who received your kindness might copy what you’ve done for someone else, it might shift their perspective, day, or actions.
Finally, giving and receiving kindness BOTH have health benefits. In fact, as I mentioned, there is new research that shows that the giver of kindness can lessen their feelings of burnout and stress by doing kindness for another.
So, if you desire to elevate your own wellbeing this new year,start with kindness. It will elevate your belief in humanity, and it will help you see that HOPE is a four-letter word that begins with you.
Linda Cohen, also known as the “kindness catalyst”, is a professional speaker and consultant. For more than a decade, Linda has worked with businesses and associations on the ROI of Kindness. She loves working with long term care professionals and has spoken for Marquis, Avamere, ComForCare, Merrill Gardens and several long-term care state associations as well.
Her first book 1,000 Mitzvahs: How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal, Inspire and Change Your Life was published in 2011. Her new book, The Economy of Kindness: How Kindness Transforms Your Bottom Line was just published in October 2021.
Linda earned her B.A from Lee College and an M.A. from Brandeis University.