Have you heard of the Kindness Institute? I do not jest. In 2019 UCLA received a $20Million grant to establish the Bedari Kindness Institute. It is billed as the world’s first interdisciplinary research center dedicated to exploring the psychological, sociological, biological, political, and economic benefits of being good to one another and ourselves.
You or I could probably confirm the effects of kindness over a cup of coffee. Or the founders could heed the Institute’s announcement quote: As we await the Institute’s discoveries, we’ll take to heart the advice from the Dalai Lama: Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
So far, the Kindness Jury is out, but judging from world chaos and conversation; it would appear the results are mixed; with the ‘me first’ group in the lead.
Mentioning this Kindness Institute to friends, some thought it a splendid idea; others were in disbelief. One suggested I was behind the times - that a friend was doing well as ‘a kindness consultant.’ I googled what I considered an extraordinary title, and sure enough – there it was, titled ‘killing it with kindness.’
Turns out, the consultant works for businesses; teaching them how kind leadership is more effective for productivity, loyalty, and ultimately the company’s bottom line. No surprise there. It does not mention the employee’s bottom line.
Hopefully we all endorse kind leadership. My proviso would ask for parameters that prevent going from kindness to mollycoddling. There is a difference. The dictionary says kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Mollycoddling means to treat someone in an indulgent or overprotective way. We have all seen what that does. What it does not do is create good leaders, confidence, or a desire to serve.
The question is: Do we really need a Kindness INSTITUTE? Or is kindness instilled by the baby see; baby do method? Can we learn to be kind later in life? This may be another behind the times opinion – which is: Only if we want to; not because it is part of a class course.