On Oct. 5, the Human Journey Colloquia Series presented “The Kindness Advantage: Cultivating Compassionate and Connected Children.” This colloquium, which was facilitated by Dr. Cara Kilgallen, invited psychologist and author Dr. Dale Atkins to speak about her experiences with kindness: learning about kindness, interviewing kind people, and understanding the effects of kindness on both the person being kind and the person receiving the kind act.
Audrey’s Corner is a place for kindness and positivity, as well as relieving the daily stressors of life and discussing issues among students which may contribute to stress. Unkind deeds only add to the stresses we experience every day, and there are plenty of reasons why we should always choose kindness. In fact, kindness is in our nature: “We are born with a propensity to be kind,” said Atkins.
However, Atkins did not deny or brush aside the fact that people can be unkind and disrespectful. Racism, sexism, and other issues are still prevalent. Bullying still happens. In fact, Atkins noted that bullying is one of the most frequent problems students face.
Yet, despite these issues which cannot be ignored, there are also people who fervently practice what it means to be kind. People who work to end issues like racism, sexism, and bullying, among a wide range of other problems. If we work together, we can create and foster a kind environment both at SHU and in the wider community.
Atkins offered some suggestions to help people achieve their full kindness potential: communicate respectfully, pay attention and listen to others, and be kind to not only other people, but also yourself. Atkins especially emphasized the importance of taking care of yourself and focusing on your mental and physical well-being during times of stress. “Be kind to yourself, and it will help you be kind to others,” she stated.
Atkins also offered advice on how to take care of yourself and others during this unusual time. She highlighted the importance of allowing yourself to feel kindness at all times, but particularly now when so many things are uncertain and we may need more guidance and support than in the past.
And remember: being kind doesn’t mean you always have to make grand gestures. Smalls acts of kindness are equally as valuable—whether those small acts be smiles, compliments, or simple texts asking how someone is doing. Perhaps a small way to be kind to yourself in these uncertain times is to take a day to relax, go on a hike, or grab a group of friends and participate in campus events.
One question Atkins posed to viewers was, “Why not be kind?” There are so many advantages to giving and receiving kindness. Being kind relieves stress, makes us feel good, encourages others to be kind, connects us as human beings, and gives life purpose. There’s no reason not to be kind, and, as Atkins said, “There’s always a kind option.”
Be kind to yourself and others. If someone isn’t being kind to you, perhaps check in on them. Make sure they are taking care of themselves so that they can find their own way to be kind to others. Sometimes, people need a little kindness in their lives in order to find their way. However, if someone is consistently insulting or bullying you, seek help and support. Surround yourself with people who care about you and respect you. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself kindly, too.
Kindness has no disadvantage—so why not be kind?
For anyone who missed the colloquium, or would like to view it again, it can be found on YouTube at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vS–U3SISw.
For anyone who is a victim of bullying or is in need of support, the Counseling Center is a great on-campus resource, and the s.w.e.e.t. Peer Educator program is also here to help promote student success and well-being. The Counseling Center can be reached by phone at 203-371-7955, and you can visit the s.w.e.e.t. page online at https://www.sacredheart.edu/offices–departments-directory/counseling-center/sweet-peer-educators/.