Looking for tips on Kindess in all the oddest places

photo: Toban Black

photo: Toban Black

I read Lifehacker pretty much on a daily basis.  There is usually something in there I can use for work, some great bit of advice I’ll throw into a web 2.0 class or a shortcut I incorporate into my own workflow.

Today they linked to a free e-book from The Simple Dollar called Everything You Need to Know About Personal Finance On Just One Page.

Why am I telling you about a personal finance e-book?  The author, Trent Hamm, claims all you need to know is that you have to spend less than you earn and then he presents 5 ideas to achieve this goal.  The ideas are fairly simple; but, what struck me as particularly awesome was that in Idea #2 which is titled: Earn More, he doesn’t just include ways to get raises and create additional income streams.  He starts by talking about what you can do in your current workplace.  Here are some of his points:

  1. minimize negative comments
  2. don’t backstab anyone
  3. if you have down time, find something to do (I’d add that this is the perfect time to help a colleague if they need it.)
  4. build positive relationships with everyone in the workplace
  5. ignore poisonous people
  6. own up to your mistakes
  7. don’t burn bridges
  8. keep in touch

This is excellent advice not only to keep your career on track and create avenues for raises and promotion; but, because it helps the organization or company do well, helps create good morale which improves the working atmosphere, and it feels good to be kind and engaged as a positive energy in your work community.

I had never read The Simple Dollar blog before today but will be adding it to my Bloglines account.  It seems to be a simple, gentle approach to taming our relationship with money.

Kindness is NOT a Bad Word

Kindness isn’t an ally of foolishness or gullibility, but rather an ally of wisdom and courage.

I found this quote from  Sharon Salzberg over on the Beliefnet and found it a useful reminder to plod on in my kindness evangalism.  There have been times when I have said the word kindness that I have seen people roll their eyes, anticipating something unpleasant or perhaps automatically pegging me as flaky or whatever.  When did the word Kind come to represent a concept that is worthy of eye rolls?  When did the concept of kindness become a synonym for weakness or flakiness or something inappropriate to discuss?

I like to think that only goodness can come from an act of kindness.  Cultivating kindness at work makes us better at our jobs.

Danish Police Hug Bicyclists! Spread the Love!!!

The most excellent bloggers over at Boing Boing recently posted this amazing video of the police in Denmark stopping bicyclists who were not wearing helmets, hugging them and giving them free helmets.

There are so many things right with this idea.  Can you imagine this happening here?  I wish it would.  I would love to see the police in Portland, OR or any other bike loving city, stopping cyclists, hugging them and handing out helmets and lights.  It would accomplish mutliple goals:  it would raise awareness of bicycle safety, help mend the sometimes strained relationship between the police department and the cycling community and it’s just great PR for the police department.  It sends the perfect message:  Hey, we care about you, please wear this helmet!

We probably can’t go around literally hugging our customers; but, how can we show them we care?  We can take the time to really listen and help.  We can try to say yes.  We can make requests politely and kindly.  We can make “going the extra mile” just normal practice.  We can smile and greet them.  We can thank them.  We can be fully present.  We can meet them where they are.  We can listen to their suggestions.  We can ask them what they need.  We can get rid of rules that are unnecessary.  We can create policies that expand service, improve atmosphere or in some way make it easier for customers to have a positive, satisfying experience at the library.  We can start our days with good intentions.  We can make a grouchy coworker laugh.  There are at least a million more things we can do to show them we care.

Also:  As a person who survived a scooter accident because I was wearing a helmet, please, please, please where a helmet when you are riding a bike, a scooter, a motorcycle, a skateboard, etc.  I care about your safety, well being and quality of life.

Mopefest 2009: Are you blue?

Photo: Megan Ann

Photo: Megan Ann

It’s been a mopefest around here.  The headlines are depressing.  Our customers have seemed stressed and sadder than usual.  We have sadness in our ranks for various personal reasons.  I’ve been moping around myself.  I actually took a personal day on Monday just to sleep (long story).

How do I best serve the public when the general consensus is sadness?  How do we bear witness to their problems (as many are eager to share) without it taking the shine off of our own attitudes?  A question about getting a vistitor’s pass to the internet turns into a story about trying to apply for a job online though the person has never used a computer.  What seemed like a skill of convenience last year (learning how to surf the internet), now all of sudden seems like a necessity.

And all the people trooping in to apply for unemployment though they have little internet experience.  The number of people asking for advice is way up: what form should I use?  How do I answer this question? How long will this take?  And yet, they ask questions we can’t answer.  We can refer them to free tax help, social services, job search workshops, even our own in house drop in job search tutoring sessions; but, it is little solace in that moment.

I’ve been asking myself these questions lately because I can feel the sadness when I enter the library lately.  Job loss, sickness, death hangs in the air and even the most patient of the staff seem kind of short and grouchy.

In Buddhism there is a form of meditation called Metta, sometimes translated as “loving-kindness.”  It is a practice that has the meditator cultivating loving kindness first for themselves, then a loved one, then a neutral party, then someone they struggle with and finally all beings.  I’ve been in groups where someone has questioned the first part of this practice.  Why focus on ourselves first?  Isn’t this selfish?  Shouldn’t we be praying for others?  Each time the teacher has talked about caring for one’s self first so that you will be most able to send loving kindness and compassion out into the world.  One teacher likened it to being on a plane when the oxygen masks drop.  You always put yours on first so that you may help others.

I think about this now.  Taking care of my physical and mental health in these times of stress will enable me to be able to help people at work and listen harder to those in my life.  Taking care of me helps me spread more compassion, more love, more kindness when it is needed most.  There are many forms of this “prayer” that can be said.  I would like to share with you the one I say.  It is one that my ex-partner wrote on a piece of paper and hung next to my hospital bed while I was recovering from a scooter accident.  I know she said it a million times for me and having it there with me reminded me to not only have loving kindness for myself; but, also those around me who were suffering with the worry of having a loved one injured.

May you be happy.

May you be free from physical pain.

May you be free from mental pain.

May you live your life with ease.

Rules of Engagement: Dealing with Social Media or Online Conflict

The web is now participatory. We have profiles on social networking sites; we have blogs; we comment on blog posts; we review products, movies, music, books; we engage with unseen people all over the world. The anonymity of the net allows for a certain misbehavior that threatens to devalue the potential for intelligent dialogue and turn off folks who have something to offer.  Sharlyn Laubey over at Mashable has posted some excellent advice on how to handle and avoid virtual conflicts.

Link: How to Deal With Social Media Conflict

I love the first one: Don’t take it personally.  This of course is excellent advice for real world and virtual world.  It is actually my stumbling studies in Buddhism that has helped me learn this lesson the most.  There is such internal buildup when we take things personally and more often than not it has nothing to do with us.