Kindness & Well-being : The New Paradigm
Joshua Malkin, one of the co-founders of the Leeds Kindness Revolution, shares his view about the link between kindness and wellbeing and suggests that caring for life, as a practice and philosophy of mutuality, works better than most other principles of personal and organisational practice.
Caring For Life – Works!
Life may not always be a bowl of cherries but ‘caring for life’ in every way we can, works. Kindness is not ‘nice’, soft, flaky or righteous – it is courageous, strategic and ethical – and offers a new operating principle for a world that works.
Kindness can be widely accepted as a unifying agenda for a transformed personal and organizational practice, which integrates the best of progressive and conservative impulses.
Kindness, compassion and wellbeing together represent an evolutionary shift of values in practice, and a unifying compass towards transformed principles of personal, political and organisational shared purpose, which are fair, effective, ecological, social, and importantly more productive.
Both cutting edge science and ancient wisdom tell us that caring for life works – that life requires a conducive environment to flourish. Humans have an amazing power to be creative. The time has come for us to use our creative power constructively, courageously and collaboratively rather than destructively, egotistically and selfishly by integrating care-ability into all kinds of capability and developing a regenerative intelligence of non-judgemental, open, generosity in our relationships and exchanges by taking responsibility for the wellbeing of others and the world as well as ourselves. Yes, we are each responsible for the wellbeing of the world – is that enough of a challenge for you?
By doing so we will enhance the individual wellbeing of everyone, the fairness and meaningful productivity of our society and the sustainability of our planet.
“This requires more than a rational response based on data or rational outcomes, it requires feeling and awe”
Earth is the only known eco-sphere that can support life in the whole of the known universe and human beings [you as a human being] are one of the most powerful creative creatures within knowable time and conceivably reachable space. We need to ask ourselves how can we live up to that legacy?
Either, we can think of ourselves, and the Earth as a purposeless accident or we can make our existence have [universal] purpose. Unfortunately, to date, our collective focus, through our oppositional systems of political economy- market and state, has been on maximising power rather than optimising shared purpose. The greatest human achievements have been created through collaboration. The evolutionary and existential shift we are faced with is to refocus our inner and outer intentions from self-interested -power to collaborative shared purpose. Kindness is an operating principle by which we can all step up!
Until recently, the operating principle of much of what has been taken for ‘business as usual’ has been accumulating more power and money for those who are in many ways already powerful and wealthy. This has been justified by an unconscious, unprincipled pragmatism deliberately fostered in some centres of private education like many public schools, which are committed to producing pupils who are capable of extracting wealth from society rather than contributing to society and often training them to use words like liberty initiative and wealth ‘creation’ that camouflage a lack of integrity and incongruent actions devaluing truth and degrading the environment on which we all depend. This has created a system that has hollowed out and degraded human, social and natural value from people, places and planet. The good news is that we can make a different choice. We can each individually choose a new operating principle base on kindness, compassion and wellbeing – so we become the ‘programmers’ of a whole new system of mutual collaboration for a greater purpose.
As Buckminster Fuller said “Dont’ fight to change a dying system just create a better one alongside it”
The reason why kindness is significant is that it disarms power by placing shared purpose at the heart of praxis [practice-in-action]. In that sense kindness represents a systemic intervention in organizational principles and policy to protect and nurture human and environmental value.
The societal equivalent of kindness is Civil Society whose organisng principles are respect, responsibility and reciprocity, which create harmony and trust.
Kindness is an optimal organizing principle of political economy based on mutual wellbeing that is life enhancing rather than life degrading.
What wellbeing, kindness, compassion and civil society all have in common is that they intrinsically put a brake on extractive power and self-interest and consequently represent an inclusive, regenerative form of intelligence that builds trust and prosperity defined as human and natural value rather only on monetary wealth.
As Satish Kumar says, we cannot have wellbeing alone. I would add that we cannot have wellbeing without kindness. Kindness is the ground in which wellbeing can flourish.
Random acts of kindness are anything but random – they are about our choosing to become the change we want to see in the world. Most grandparents naturally want a better world for their grandchildren but wisdom, integrity and maturity in contemporary society have been marginalized and disempowered. Western ‘civilization’ through the commercialization of entertainment, the enclosure of our free thought by the market and the financialization of pretty much everything – has come to place bravado, entertainment and celebrity before wisdom and maturity. In contrast, some Native American peoples have an ancient tradition called ‘the children’s fire’. It is lit in all tribal councils where any decisions being made will affect the future wellbeing of the tribe as a reminder that decisions must be judged on whether they will harm the children for seven generations into the future. It is now time for us to create an equally awe-inspiring culture of shared human purpose.
The kindness revolution is a compassion rebellion, which is about challenging ourselves and each other to create a better system and a sustainable world where everyone has value.