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Journey to Wholeness

Violence Into Kindness

By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.



In a world that seems to feed on the drama of violence, it may be time for each of us to think about our part in creating an environment of kindness transforming that violence into a safe, loving space. Lerner, Ph.D. in her book, Why Won’t You Apologize?, says “But kindness is not an ‘extra. It is at the heart of intimacy, connection, self-respect and respect for others.” The Acts of Random Kindness Project ( asks “What would happen if kindness became normal?”

The World Kindness Movement was started in Tokyo, Japan in 1997. The mission is to “Inspire individuals towards kindness and to connect nations to create a kinder world. There are twenty-five nations, including the US, that belong to this movement. They sponsor an international conference and a Happiness Day each year. Here are some ideas they offer for inspiring kindness:

  1. Throughout the day, you can consciously perform acts of kindness helping a neighbor, complimenting a colleague, or donating to a charity.

  2. You can share uplifting and positive messages on social media to inspire others to be kind and compassionate.

  3. Volunteer for a local charity or nonprofit organization that aligns with your values.

  4. Donate to a charitable cause that you believe in.

  5. Show random acts of kindness, by buying a stranger coffee or leaving an encouraging note for a friend or family member.


A group in Fort Collins, CO, tells us about making a positive difference in They suggest:

  • Provide simple ways to make a positive difference in the world!

  • Bring people together to value and engage in care,

  • Enable adults to be positive role models to all boys and girls,

  • Use positive small contributions to reduce inequalities.


Leon Logothetis, ( “After an unfulfilled life in finance, …found new purpose through global travels fueled by kindness, inspiring others with his message of human connection.” He wrote about it in The Kindness Diaries, Go Be Kind, and other books.  He says, “I hope you will see how an act of kindness really can change the world.”  He continues, “And from all of them, I learned to love.”


The War for Kindness: Building Kindness in a Fractured World by Jamil Zaki tells us, “Empathy is in short supply. We struggle to understand people who aren’t like us but find it easy to hate them. Studies show that we are less caring than we were even thirty years ago. Barack Obama said the United States suffered from an ‘empathy deficit.’ Since then, things seem to have only gotten worse.” In his book, Jamil shares cutting-edge research showing that empathy is not a fixed trait-something, we’re born with or not-but rather a skill that can be strengthened through effort. He cites many examples of people changing their violent, destructive, or uncaring behavior to kindness and understanding.

A series of studies have shown that kindness is contagious. James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis in the British Medical Journal in 2008 said of their research, “Emotional states can be transferred directly from one individual to another by mimicry and ‘emotional contagion’…People can ‘catch’ emotional states they observe in others over times ranging from seconds to weeks.”

When we are kind, receive kindness, or observe it, our heart rate and brain activity change in a positive direction. We feel better physically and emotionally. Of course, negative behavior like sarcasm, rudeness, or criticism can also spread in the family, the classroom, the workplace, or other environments causing greater stress in individuals. You can choose what you are ‘spreading.’

Here are some ideas. Make a resolution to perform one act of kindness a day. I also suggest that we become more aware of ‘receiving’ kindness with openness and gratitude. That means allowing the fifteen seconds it takes for a positive experience to register! Think about writing one thank-you note a week to someone. Take Dr. Lerner’s advice and take responsibility for your behavior by apologizing sincerely when you are aware you have hurt someone.

I am sure that you can think of other ways to activate kindness in your life. Some of the websites above offer great ideas. Ralph Waldo Emerson tells us, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”

Jude LaClaire, Ph. D., LCPC is a counselor and educator at the Heartland Holistic Health Center. She is the author of the “Life Weaving Education Curriculum” that teaches creative, effective, holistic problem solving. For counseling appointments, seminars, in-service training or speaker’s bureau, call 816-509-9277 or;

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