Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.
Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. So glad you could join us for today's podcast. I want to talk to you about kindness, more specifically, the power of kindness, and, boy, I want to tell you if our world needs anything today, we need a healthy dose of kindness, don't we?
I mean, think about it. There are so many hot topics that are just dotting the landscape of our global world, everything from “Should we wear a mask? Should we not wear a mask?” to “Should we social distance? Should we be part of large gatherings?” all the way to the racial strife that's playing out on our streets all throughout the world, all the way to the political unrest that tends to divide us everywhere, hot topics that can trigger emotional responses, sometimes even a violent response at a moment's notice. [01:18.7]
As the pandemic continues to produce unprecedented numbers, our world is growing more and more anxious. We're having a difficult time navigating through the unknown. Look around. We're not as patient as we once were. We tend to live on the edge.
So, I want to use this episode to remind us of a power that's inside of us, the power to be kind, the power to extend kindness, the power to show kindness to others. That's right. I believe we need a healthy dose of old-school kindness. [01:56.8]
What do I mean by “old-school kindness”? I'm 64 years old. I remember when I was a kid growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, kindness was considered a value. It was a value. You were to be kind. That was part of what it meant to be a good person. However, today in a global consumer culture, kindness doesn't seem to be a value anymore. Kindness has become a commodity that we bartered to get what we think we might need to appease the sensibilities of folks we don't even know. In other words, we use kindness as an advantage, as opposed to being kind as a value.
You know what, friend? I want to tell you something. Not only, not only do others benefit when we are kind, but we benefit on so many levels. I want you to just listen, just some basic information that I've been able to put together with regard to the benefits of kindness. [02:59.8]
For example, research has shown that acts of kindness can release hormones that can improve our mood and our overall health. According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, and you can look this up for yourself on the internet, witnessing acts of kindness produces a hormone called oxytocin. Occasionally, oxytocin is referred to as the love hormone. This chemical actually lowers our blood pressure, improves our self-esteem and our overall health as well. Oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which dilates the blood vessels to the point that the blood pressure is lowered and we just feel happy. We feel good.
Listen to this research from Emory University about kindness. When you are kind to another person, your brain's pleasure center lights up, gets excited as if you are the recipient of the good deed and not to giver. This phenomenon is called the helper's high. I love that. [04:11.3]
In a study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, people feel stronger and more energized after helping someone. Come on, y'all. Many people reported feeling calmer and less depressed, and even felt increased self-worth, simply by helping somebody else.
Author Christine Carter wrote, “People who volunteer experience fewer aches and pains.” Now, I want you all to really listen to this one, especially my listeners who happened to be senior adults. Listen to this. Carter added that people over 55 who volunteer for at least two or more organizations tend to have longer lifespans, a 44% lower likelihood of dying early. [05:03.8]
Now, of course, you've got to take into account existing medical conditions and other contributing health factors, including personal habits, but I like the odds. I like the odds. Look at what the research is indicating. If you show kindness, if you display random acts of kindness, if you are a kind person, not only does the community benefit, not only do others benefit, but, friends, you are literally improving your own health and likely improving your longevity on this earth.
Listen to this. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found that not only is mortality delayed, but depression is reduced when we are kind toward other people.
Here's the bottom line. Being kind doesn't just bless other people. Being kind doesn't just encourage other people. Being kind doesn't just lift up others. Being kind positively impacts our thinking, our brain, our joints, our heart, our overall health, our mental state, including our mood, even impacts our longevity. [06:17.6]
You see, being kind releases in the blood oxytocin, nitric oxide and serotonin. These chemicals, according to researchers, put us in a better frame of mind, make us happy, make us joyful. We feel a greater sense of self-worth all by helping other people, all by doing something good for someone else, all by having an attitude of kindness. You want to hear the best news of all, friend? As my daddy used to say, it doesn't cost a dime to be kind. Come on, somebody. [06:55.8]
You see, think about the examples of kindness in your life. Study them in your mind for just a moment. If you have the benefit of being around them, observe them. It's not an act. It's something that comes from deep within. It's a virtue that they have. But I want to tell you something, we all have that virtue. The critical issue is, are we willing to develop it or do we allow circumstances to determine our growth? May that never be said about us. May it be said that regardless of circumstances, we're going to be kind.
I love Helen Keller. She was so insightful. Wasn't she? She said on one occasion something that is so powerful. She said that hope sees the invisible and feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible, right? Why not every day feel, feel the intangible, see that which other people don't see, achieve that which other people don't achieve? How do you do that, Rick? By reconnecting to our childhood kindness. [08:10.1]
Our kindness can literally change our world, change the environment in our home, change the landscape of our community, just by being kind every single day.
I love what Mother Teresa said on one occasion. I love Mother Teresa. God bless Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa said be kind to others even if they're not kind toward you. Come on, somebody. Say it again, Rick. Be kind to others even if they're not kind toward you.
My daddy used to say it doesn't cost a dime to be kind. I had a mama and a daddy who were the epitome of kindness. They lived out the definition of kindness. Simply stated, my parents were selfless. They were always helping others. It didn't matter what we had or what we didn't have. That was beside the point. [09:06.8]
I was so embarrassed when I was a kid growing up because seemingly every day after my mother would cook, she'd hand me a book pot of food and say, Ricky, take this next door to Mr. Jones' house. Take this across the street to Mrs. Johnson's house. Ricky, take this down the street to Mr. Wilson's house. Take them some food.
What I didn't realize was that it was a simple act of kindness and my mother was planting some seeds in us, oh, baby, planting some powerful seeds, seeds that said love your neighbor as yourself, seeds that would produce fruit that would say look out for other people, seeds that would say it's not about you. It's about what can you do to improve your environment and how can you help someone today?
I saw my parents act in a selfless way, so much so that their nicknames on our block, my mother's nickname was Big Mama and my dad's nickname was Too Papa. That's right. They were the parents to any and all who were in need. [10:08.4]
But that wasn't unique to my family. Back in the ’60s, that's just the way it was. People looked out for each other and it came from a virtue deep within, from a value deep inside, a value called kindness, friend. We need a dose of that old-school kindness. We need to look out for one another. Half of us don't even know who our neighbors are.
Think about it. We pull up to our house, we push the garage door opener, and we literally live in isolation. Contrast that with the ’60s and before there weren't many garages and a lot of neighborhood activity, especially during good weather, occurred on the front porch. You knew your neighbors. You knew if there was a strange car in the neighborhood. You looked out for one another. You showed kindness. I think we need to turn a page back and go to that old school kind of kindness. [11:03.9]
Not only were my parents selfless, but they were servants and they were always grateful. I don't remember one day growing up where my parents were ungrateful. They were always thankful, whether we had much or whether we had little did not determine their gratitude, their servant's heart or their selflessness.
And you know what? I really believe it affected the mood in our home. Think about the power of kindness. It can literally affect the mood in your home. I believe that my mother and father's kindness created community in our neighborhood. Your acts of kindness can create a closer community in your neighborhood.
I believe my parents' acts of kindness changed how we in the family treated each other, not just internally, but others outside the family. I believe that a simple act of kindness has the power to cause you to change how you treat folks at work. [12:05.4]
I believe that my mother and father's kindness set a standard for our behaviors, our attitudes and our actions for the rest of our lives. I believe that a simple act of kindness every day will impact our behaviors and your habits, your actions and your attitudes, for the rest of your life.
My parents, the legacy of kindness continues today. I'm sure that yours does as well. That is if we're all willing to activate that kindness. Here's the thing that blows me away. My mother and daddy had little money and they didn't have many material possessions, but they were rich, they were wealthy when it came to kindness. As a result, we experienced firsthand the power of kindness on a daily basis.
My dad was alive until the 1990s and I was with him for 40 years of his life, and I would hear my father say a phrase every single day. Usually it was a blessing at dinner time. He would say kind deeds are never lost. [13:14.8]
You know how you gather around the table and you say the blessing? Father, thank you for the food we're about to receive. Let it bring nourishment to our body, in Jesus name, amen, or however your blessing would go. My father would add “kind deeds are never lost,” his head bowed, his head as closed, as sincere as he could possibly say it. He'd say that every single blessing.
And he said something else to end every single conversation that I ever had with him in 40 years. He would say, “Listen, son, be good.” That was it. Be good. Took it for granted. The only time I didn't take it for granted was as my father lay on his deathbed. His last words to me were “Listen, Ricky, be good.” [14:00.5]
Friends, I think we need to be good, for now is the time to shake ourselves from the dust of unkindness. Now is the time to come together, to do the work of unity, to demonstrate dignity for all God's people and to pursue peace at all costs. I want to pass along kindness, just like my mom and dad passed it on us, and just like my dad's mother, my grandmother, passed it onto my father.
I would love visiting Ma’ma. That's what we called her, affectionately known as Ma’ma. We would love family vacations. We were the only part of the family that permanently moved from Texas to Northern California, so every year we get into our rambler station wagon and we would cross country to Texas to visit Grandma and all our relatives, and at the end of every visit, at the end of every phone conversation with Ma’ma, she would say these words. She would say, “Ricky, be sweet. Be a sweet boy for my Ma’ma. Be sweet.” [15:06.2]
Friends, it has taken me some 60 years to understand what Ma’ma and Daddy were really saying. They were saying always take the high road, take the road less traveled, see what others don't and do what others won't. Love those who persecute you. See good in everyone. Be kind to those who are not kind to you. Do everything in your power to pursue peace as you work for unity and pursue dignity for all.
In other words, this is what a grandmother, a mother and a daddy were saying to me. Be good. Be sweet. Be kind. Oh, friend, dwell on that just for a few days. [16:01.7]
My hope, my prayer is that we would learn to be more kind to each other, regardless of pandemic, regardless of racial strife, regardless of political division. May we be good to one another. May we be sweet to each other. May we be kind to everyone.
Friend, thank you for tuning in today. I feel uplifted. I hope you do as well. I hope you're encouraged. I hope you're so motivated to be kind to everyone. And until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick asking you the most important question I could ask you today. How you living? [16:52.9]
Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout,” absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.
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