Thriving Together Well-Being Weekly: Kindness and Awe

by Whitney Hopler, Communications Director

Thriving Together Well-Being Weekly: Kindness and Awe

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu

This edition was written by Whitney Hopler, whose book Wake Up to Wonder focuses on awe.

Kindness and awe are connected aspects of well-being. When we choose to be kind, we’re more likely to notice the wonder around us than we would be otherwise. When we feel awe, we’re motivated to choose kind words and actions. Our Mason community will be pursuing kindness collectively this academic year through the Mason Chooses Kindness initiative that launches on World Kindness Day (November 13). As we work together to be kind, we can look forward to experiencing awe together along the way.

Research studies have found many benefits of kindness. When people choose to be kind, they experience a “helper’s high” that can lead them to feel awe. Their happiness, energy, and sense of love can increase after doing something kind for another person, giving them a greater perspective that promotes awe.

Experiencing awe can also motivate people to be kind, research shows. When people notice and enjoy the wonder around them, the awe they feel can humble them and make them more aware of how connected they are to others. That can inspire them to choose kind behavior.

Kindness Practice: Send Kindness Cards

One powerful kindness practice is writing kind words in messages to those you know who need encouragement. People are inundated with information daily, to the point where they can’t pay attention to it all. However, people always need inspiration to strengthen their well-being. By making time to express kind messages personally to those you care about, you can inspire them to expand their perspective. Your kind words can remind them that they matter, no matter what. Kindness can lift their focus from their challenging circumstances to the greater reality that they’re a part of a caring community. An awareness of their positive connections to those beyond themselves can promote awe in their lives.

Make a list of people in your life – colleagues, friends, family members, neighbors – who are facing stressful or discouraging situations right now. Then, schedule time to write a personalized message of encouragement to each one. Your messages can be brief. What matters most is that what you choose to write is authentic and kind. You can use these Mason Chooses Kindness e-card templates to send your kind words to people on your list. Or, you can choose your own design. Feel free to send your kindness cards electronically, or write your message in your own handwriting for an extra personalized touch and send your cards by regular mail.

Choose Regular (Not Random) Acts of Kindness

While the phrase “random acts of kindness” is popular, kindness at its best is more than just random. Choosing to practice kindness intentionally (rather than randomly) will make it a powerful well-being habit. As we incorporate regular acts of kindness into our lives, we can be transformed. We can become kind people who are able to transcend stressful circumstances through the greater perspective that awe opens up. We can build communities where we inspire each other through kindness and thrive together as a result.

Additional Resources

These Thriving Together Well-Being Weekly features focus on compassion, intentional acts of kindness, and awe.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation presents a myriad of kindness resources online.

The book Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness and Community from Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation features kindness stories from young people who are working for positive change in their communities.

The Kind Living website offers free, self-paced classes and activities on kindness.