Deep Kindness
eBook - ePub

Deep Kindness

A Revolutionary Guide for the Way We Think, Talk, and Act in Kindness

Houston Kraft

  1. 176 pagine
  2. English
  3. ePUB (disponibile sull'app)
  4. Disponibile su iOS e Android
eBook - ePub

Deep Kindness

A Revolutionary Guide for the Way We Think, Talk, and Act in Kindness

Houston Kraft

Dettagli del libro
Anteprima del libro
Indice dei contenuti

Informazioni sul libro

Spread meaningful kindness in your everyday life with this essential guidebook to making the world a kinder, more accepting place. Practicing kindness is an essential step in helping to repair a world that has grown to be more divisive, lonely, and anxious than ever. But with quotes like "Just be kind" or "Throw kindness around like confetti, " we've oversimplified what it takes to actually demonstrate kindness in a world crying out for it. Deep Kindness pairs anecdotes with actions that can make real change in our own lives, the lives of others, and throughout the world. Diving into the types of kindness the world needs most today, this book takes an honest look at the gap between our belief in kindness and our ability to practice it well—and shows us how to put intention into action. Exploring everything from the empathy gap to the skill of emotional regulation, Deep Kindness is perfect for anyone who believes in a kinder world and recognizes that there is a lot of work to do before we achieve it.

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I spend a lot of time thinking about the importance of Kindness in a world seemingly too busy for it. Kindness is one of these essential things that we collectively say is good, but we collectively aren’t very good at.
Why? Why are we so bad at something we believe in?
Why is it that we can so universally agree on the value of something and not be very skilled at it? How can Helga sit in pain, alone in an airport, and have three thousand people bypass her suffering?
This book, in many ways, is for Helga. Almost every day I think or talk about her story. In some ways it’s because I know that, at any given moment, I could live her story. I’m acutely aware that none of us are immune from adversity. We will all, at some point along the way, be desperate for a moment of human Kindness and connection.
For two hours, three thousand strangers walked by her moment of profound hurt. In her deepest sadness and loneliness, thousands of opportunities for companionship and comfort shuffled or sprinted by on their own well-intentioned way.
I was in the Hot Dog Seat, crying while she cried, when she arrived at her conclusion: “You know what I realized as three thousand people walked by, Houston? I realized that Kindness isn’t normal.”
Kindness isn’t normal.
Those words have stuck with me all these years. It has been the foundation upon which I’ve built much of what I do, because I want to live in a world where Kindness is the baseline—a world where everyone is capable of meeting the basic human need for attention, hopefulness, and care. A world where people have the skills and the courage to stop and help someone crying in the airport. A world that believes in Kindness as the single most important skill for more meaningful lives and more abundant, caring, connected communities.
I believe in a world where Kindness is normal. And I’ve learned along the way that it’s going to take a lot of work.


I grew up trying to memorize the longest words I could find. I remember being in the bathtub at age six trying to learn how to spell “temperature.” My mom would patiently break the word apart: tem·per·a·ture.
I would scour the internet to see if I could find bigger and sillier spelling challenges. When I was eleven, I tackled “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.” Before you start a not-so-quick Google search (it takes a minute just to type it), I’ll fill you in on its meaning: it’s a lung disease caused by the inhalation of fine silica or quartz dust. It’s the longest English word on the market at forty-five letters, and I spent a full forty-eight hours trying to memorize it.
Maybe it was just my only-child desire to win at all things, but even beyond winning, I’ve always been drawn to the power of words. “Language and the Brain” describes language as one of the primary ways that we understand the world around us.1 It plays a starring and widespread role in the human brain, aiding in everything from processing color to making moral judgments. It dictates how we construct and remember events, categorize objects, process smells and sounds, think about time, do mental math, and experience and express emotions. You get the point. Words are kind of a big deal.
Much of our understanding of language is taught to us through experience. Which means, if we aren’t paying attention, our ultimately narrow-laned, individual life experiences can inform how we define many words that control much of our life. Our siloed, independent experiences aren’t always the most trustworthy source of definitions for things that affect us interdependently. As an example, if our experience growing up with the word “love” is shaped by a series of failed or abusive relationships with the adults we trust, we will begin to think about (or even fear) love in ways that are unique to those experiences. If we grow up in a household where Kindness looks like two parents who make our dinner each night and sit down for a family meal, we may have a hard time understanding someone who comes from a single-grandparent home where Kindness looks like someone remembering to leave some leftovers in the fridge.
No perspective is inherently wrong. However, if we don’t have the tools to reflect on how our experiences have defined these words in our lives, then we become the victim of hand-me-down definitions. That is to say, we accept the definition our lives have offered to us instead of wrestling with any possibility of the word meaning something more.
The way we think about things in our brain shapes the way we interact with them in the world. Words (and our definitions of them) shape nearly everything we do.
So what is your definition of Kindness? And perhaps the more important question: How does your definition of Kindness shape the way you interact with it in the world?


We are talking about Kindness more than ever before. While interpersonal conversations are one element of this chatter, our culture currently speaks loudest through products and posts. Target has a whole Kindness T-shirt line. There are hashtags focused on happiness. There are a plethora of Pinterest-y posters promoting positivity. Brands are popping up with mottoes focused on doing or being good. Nearly every school I have ever worked with incorporates Kindness into their motto, mantra, or mission.
But how we talk about something is even more important than the frequency with which we talk about it.
I’ve worked with over six hundred schools around the world, and one of the most common Kindness posters I’ve seen in these schools reads like this:
[ “Throw Kindness around like confetti!” ]
I want to gently tear this poster down from the internet and the hallways.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s well-intentioned. The quote is simply asking us to be more liberal in how we spread and share our Kindness. And certainly the world needs more of it!
But I believe that if Kindness were as simple or as easy as confetti, the world would be a much Kinder place.
In fact, quotes like this one (and many others in schools or online) talk about Kindness in a similarly well-intentioned, cute, and playful way.
“Just be Kind!”
“Kindness is free. Sprinkle that stuff everywhere.”
And while they make for great products and posters, they can do more harm than good. Without paying proper attention, we’ve started to “fluffify” the thing. We are talking about Kindness in an oversimplified way.
One of the biggest barriers to a Kinder world is the way we speak about Kindness. When we make something sound easy, we don’t allocate the necessary resources, energy, or time to actually improve at it. The kind of Kindness the world needs isn’t being accurately portrayed, let alone taught. As a result, there is a glaring delta between perceived importance and actual action.
What if we talked about Kindness in a way that honored how hard it is? What if we taught skills in our education system that supported the challenging and messy work of Deep Kindness in our lives?
Deep Kindness. Not Confetti Kindness.
Simple and confetti-like actions of Kindness are a piece of the puzzle, but they aren’t the whole picture.
Clearly outlining the differences between these concepts is what this book is all about. It’s about offering a more thoughtful vocabulary for the critically important concept of Kindness.
Here are a few types that may come up:
    “Please” and “Thank you.” Politeness and pleasantries. While certainly important and demonstrative of basic respect for others, these acts of Kindness aren’t necessarily changing anyone’s world. They keep the gears turning, but sometimes fail to acknowledge the bigger, broken machine.
    The mass-marketed, feel-good Kindness that I associate with bright colors, poppy news stories, and warm fuzzies like Pay-It-Forward coffee lines or other random acts.
    Let me be clear from the start: I believe that both of these first two Kindnesses are critical in a world craving gentleness and optimism. This book does not dismiss Confetti Kindness as outright wrong or bad—these actions of fun or generosity provide hope that people are doing good in a world that can sometimes feel bleak. Almost always, they are rooted in good intentions and delivered in an earnest attempt to help. There is nothing inherently wrong with Confetti Kindness, but there is a more profound category of care that the world desperately needs.
    The kind of Kindness that overcomes selfishness and fear. The sort of generosity that expects nothing in return. The unconditional care that is given despite a person’s shortcomings or ugliness. The commitment to consistent, thoughtful action that proves, over time, that your giving is not dependent on circumstance or convenience. Deep Kindness requires something more than politeness or even an honest desire to help—it requires careful self-reflection, profound courage, a willingness to be humbled, and hard-earned social and emotional skills. Deep Kindness is the by-product of a whole lot of emotional intelligences coming together in concert to perform an action that may look externally simple but is quite internally complicated. It’s the kind that overcomes generational hate and champions justice. It’s the type of Kindness we must teach (and explore for ourselves) if we are ever going to live in a world that is less divisive and more compassionate. It’s the kind of Kindness that stops to help Helga.
If most of what we’ve heard or seen growing up is reductionistic one-liners such as “be kind” or cutesy commands like “sprinkle that stuff everywhere because it’s free,” then we will continue to reduce this beautiful and complicated idea of Kindness down to simple sayings, Post-it Note pleasantries, and high fives in hallways.
There are plenty of books available that can offer stories and ideas for Confetti Kindness, and I urge you to read them and enjoy! I would never dismiss the value of these small and powerful moments that can encourage a smile, change a day, or inspire a movement. But this book is more interested in unpacking things that can feel a little bit uglier and perhaps a little less fun. It will feel prickly and uncomfortable at times, and that is a good thing. We’ll never find new answers if we keep asking the old questions. I want to explore the limits of our compassion and understand what’s required for us to live in the Kindest version of this world.
The practice of Deep Kindness doesn’t happen just because we believe in Kindness. It’s something to strive toward, and a skill set that has infinite room for improvement. It’s also not exclusive of Common Kindness or Confetti Kindness. In fact, the two of them are foundational for the ongoing work of Deep Kindness. The consistent and thoughtful exercise of Common Kindne...

Indice dei contenuti

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Dedication
  4. Part 1: The Case for Kindness
  5. Part 2: Looking For Advil
  6. Part 3: Incompetence
  7. Part 4: Insecurity
  8. Part 5: Inconvenience
  9. Part 6: Consistency
  10. Conclusion: A Kinder World
  11. Acknowledgments
  12. About the Author
  13. Notes
  14. Bibliography
  15. Copyright
Stili delle citazioni per Deep Kindness

APA 6 Citation

Kraft, H. (2020). Deep Kindness ([edition unavailable]). Tiller Press. Retrieved from (Original work published 2020)

Chicago Citation

Kraft, Houston. (2020) 2020. Deep Kindness. [Edition unavailable]. Tiller Press.

Harvard Citation

Kraft, H. (2020) Deep Kindness. [edition unavailable]. Tiller Press. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Kraft, Houston. Deep Kindness. [edition unavailable]. Tiller Press, 2020. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.