What Is Kindness?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once described Kindness as the golden chain by which society is bound.’

Generally, Kindness is the interaction that it starts with a feeling and extends to acting upon it! But how do we characterize Kindness? What motivates us to act upon our tender feelings? Acts of Kindness is deeply rooted in human nature and understanding its components gives us a framework on how to be cooperative and connected.

So what constitutes Kindness:

  • Kindness as benign tolerance translates into accepting and having compassion towards others. Sometimes, a slanted eyebrow, a concerned look, or a soft touch fulfill our social pact. Great apes spend hours a day grooming each other, even when there are no lice! Apes groom to forge alliances, reward generosity, or manage conflicts. 
Simone Fugazzotto Artwork
  • Kindness as principled pro-action, a behavior that is honorable and prompts objective measures for effective altruism. In 1873, Leo Tolstoy decided to stop writing Anna Karenina for a year to organize aid for the starving, “I cannot tear myself away from living creatures to bother about imaginary ones.” Many people thought it crazy that one of the finest novelists in the world would postpone one of his best works. But Tolstoy did not change his mind, and again in 1891, he spent two years raising money from around the world and working in a soup kitchen. 

 

  • Another aspect of Kindness is the empathetic responsiveness, which translates into considering other people’s feelings and doing the right thing – In 2013, Ivan Fernandez Anaya, Spanish Runner, intentionally lost the race to do the right thing. His opponent, Abel Mutai, mistakenly thought the end of the race came about 10 meters sooner than it did and stopped running. Fernandez gestured to El Pais to keep going! “I didn’t deserve to win it. I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn’t have closed if he hadn’t made a mistake. As soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn’t going to pass him.” 

Occasionally, Kindness involves generating feelings of openness, humility, non-judgemental, and warmth towards one-self. The bottom line is that Kindness is critical for our species to survive, consequently, we have to make a mental note to embrace daily acts of Kindness. 

How To Be Angry?

Anger is a tool that can help us navigate upsetting situations in life. It’s senseless to think that anger is the opposite of compassion since it can materialize from immediate threats, unwarranted optimism, excessive expectations, or social injustices. In fact, anger can fuel positive change when the intense emotions are based on altruism or call for self-development.

However, like any other tool, it should be used creatively with caution. It is difficult to restrict anger, but with practice in daily activities, whether lining up at the supermarket to delays in service deliveries, engrave in your mind that you have a choice to express your emotions through a sophisticated narrative and not in a fuming way. 

Art by Ania Tomicka
  • Recognize that when circumstances are out of your control, anger is not a smart choice
  • Employ “discomfort caveat” – let others know that that you are experiencing anger and potentially your actions might not be clear or even worse, they might be explosive. Apologize in advance. In this manner, the other person will become less defensive. 
  • Slow down to re-consider your response and evaluate whether your anger will help or hurt the situation. This way, you can make a sound decision rather than a fast one.
  • Provocation is inevitable in unfriendly cases, use speedometer technique. The process starts by creating a list of descriptive words that encapsulates your emotions in anger and assign a number to them. For instance:
    •  100 miles per hour explosive state 
    • 60 miles per hour a pissed off frame of mind
    • Ultimately to 30 miles per hour where you feel calm and collected. 

Of course, the intensity varies, so you should have at least 10-speed numbers and ten words summarizing the strength of your anger. If you feel way above your speed limit, then you need more time to slow down till you put on the brakes. Do not forget that creating a visual image reinforces your efforts to manage your anger. Remember, sometimes, no reaction buys time and gives you an upper hand. 

 

Featured image by War Graphics

Tell Your Brain To Shut Up and Listen!

As promised, I embarked on the practice of mindfulness meditation to learn useful techniques on how to change our state of mind deliberately. The practice serves as a navigator through the ups and downs of life, transcending the fear and seeing things or the problem as they are. Meditation takes you to a place deep within yourself, a bridge to your inner wisdom that helps you stabilize distress—the optimal formula to nurture the best version of yourself.

At its core, the concept of mindful meditation is nothing more than being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it. It is not always about sitting in the Burmese position (mind you, it does help) and chanting a mantra but to be present at the moment. As Jon Kabat-Zinn writes in “Catastrophe Living,” unless you change your way of looking at things, no type of meditation will be useful in the long run. He frames a set of 7 fundamental attitudes that will help with the practice of being present. Non-judgingpatiencebeginner’s mindtrustnon-strivingacceptance, and letting go are to be part of your frame of mind to channel your energies and reach an alpha state. I will dive deeper into each of these attitudes in my upcoming “Mind Series.” 

The practice needs commitment! In the beginning, it will be very hard to include the above attitudes in your thought process, but merely keeping them in mind and applying them in small increments in your day-to-day ways, from eating habits to rituals or working systems, will eventually be ingrained in your thinking.

  • A good place to start is to take notice of your daily habits. For instance, pay attention to what you are eating as if it is for the first time that you are seeing or tasting that food. You can try with just one fruit or any other produce that you like. This exercise involves minding one moment to another and can be extended to other tasks and routines. 
  • Intentionally, build up your efforts and set aside a time during the day to quiet your mind and focus on your breathing.
  • Taking notice of the breath is the anchor that shifts our battling mind and anxieties to a relaxing and calming stage. The turbulence is still there, but even if it’s for a few minutes, this exercise enables you to reconnect to your ability to stay calm.

 

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Photo courtesy of rafyA creative art designs
  • Diaphragmatic breathing – the idea is to intentionally contract the diaphragm muscle and relax your belly during the inhalation to rise and deflate on exhalation. Lie down on your back or stretch out on a recliner put one hand on your belly. Bring your attention to your hand and feel it move. Practice for 15 minutes every day. (“The power of Breathing, Jon Kabat-Zinn) 
  • The other way of practicing mindfulness of breathing is to be mindful of your breath during the day.

 

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Photo courtesy of designrfix.com
  • Kindly observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment and turn your focus on your breath each time you start dwelling on them.
  • Note the persistent thoughts, detect the emotional threats of the self-centered sentiments, anger, hate, or different moods.
  • Recognize that what comes to your mind is only a thought. By redirecting your attention to your breath, you will detach any value to the lingering thought, and gradually, you will have the strength to intentionally let go of the negative emotions and calm your brain.
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Photo courtesy of designrfix.com

The whole process is not about pushing the unwanted emotions or thoughts away but cultivating the courage to see as they are. Meditation is about accepting the contents of your mind, regaining calm to reach the peaceful brain wave, and finding clarity.

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Photo courtesy of designrfix.com

Explore your rhythms and pulses, and in concert with your restyled thinking at the same time integrating gratitudecompassionkindnessforgivenessgenerosity, and tolerance, steadilyyou can lead a robust lifestyle.

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Art of Alex Gross

Can Meditation Change The Brain?

Throughout history, meditation has been practiced in one form or another to assert the primal instinct to connect with oneself and the universe. Perhaps it is the most effective channel to reach clarity and harness the power of thought. Interestingly, the practice has its variations from the sweat lodge ceremonies of Native Americans, reading the Bible, the whirling dervishessound rituals of aboriginals, and Islamic practices of prayers. Nevertheless, meditation trains the brain and enables us to shift our brainwaves from the working mind to deep sleep.

I briefly touched on the Alpha State of mind in my last post; now, I like to delve into moving from one state of mind to another through meditation. So I decided to learn about the process and write about my findings in a series of blog posts.

Let’s start with our brain frequencies:

  • Gamma State (30-100Hz) is when your brain is extremely active and retains information. In this state, you are an active learner, and the assimilated information is lasting. However, if it is excessively stimulated, it can lead to anxiety. A good example is when you attend a seminar or a workshop, and the coaches urge you to jump up and down or dance.
  • Beta State(13-30HZ) is associated with the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that orchestrates our thoughts and actions from personality expression, decision-making, or keeping our social behaviors under control.
  • Alpha State (9-13Hz) is when the thinking mind slows down becomes calm and peaceful. In this state, the brain’s communication pathways (neural integration) are open to activate the intelligible and reflective mind. The only way to know that you have reached this state is when you are entirely relaxed mentally and physically.
  • Theta State (4-8Hz) is when our brainwaves in its intuitive thinking. Meditation begins in this state, and we can move the thinking mind over to the visual mind. Your brain is extremely receptive to visualization.
  • Delta State (1-3 Hz) is when we are in deep and dreamless sleep. In this state, through transcendental meditation, we can reach the unconscious realm and connect with the collective unconscious or the universal mind.

When you train your brain to move from the active state to a calm state through mindful meditation, the brain undergoes positive changes. It heightens emotional intelligence and strengthens the resilience of your mind leading to good physical well-being. In a study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of British Columbia, “Is meditation associated with altered brain structure?”, they confirm that the brains of consistent meditators have thicker tissue in those regions responsible for body awareness, enhanced focus, stress management and attention control. (Referring to Anterior cingulate cortex – the area associated with controlling impulses and maintaining attention).

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ANTONIO MORA

Furthermore, the research outlines that mindful meditation’s regular practice activates some regions in the brain while other regions are deactivated. For instance, the brain region associated with many negative emotions such as anxiety or sadness gets smaller with practice.
Overall, integrating mindful meditation techniques into our lives will significantly reduce our unproductive emotions and boosts self-regulation.

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ANTONIO MORA

In the next post, I will introduce a few techniques on applying this alternative well-being approach into our daily lives to manage our emotions.

Featured image by ANTONIO MORA

Branding – How to build your tribe?

 

One of the objectives of branding in postmodernism is essentially getting through to individuals or groups to join your utopia! Is about the certainty of one’s worldview and the paradox of interpretations that validates the brand’s mindset such as courage, being active, cultured, cosmopolitan, daring,… . Basically, creating an echo chamber of motives and behaviours that embrace the attitudes of individuals and ensures support.

Nike embodies the significant characteristics of postmodern branding by juxtaposing essential and ephemeral social experiences throughout their branding efforts. From their logo depicting motion and speed to their inspiring lifestyle, Nike explores the complexity and real challenges of our world at the same time the real basis of motivation, passion, and empowerment. Their diverse and connecting social media posts champion the creation of tribes that identify with its way of life and play an instrumental role to promote the brand. Their stories tap into the essential feelings, the interplay of oppositions and realities that propel us to be a role model, to have that “can do attitude” regardless of the gender, giving hope and saving a child “from the streets to the league”.

Nike: A sunset is not a stop sign.
Nike: A sunset is not a stop sign.
Nike: It's not always sunshine and sand. #justdoit
Nike: It’s not always sunshine and sand. #justdoit
Nike : If you don't take risks, you'll always have regret. #justdoit
Nike : If you don’t take risks, you’ll always have regret. #justdoit

The postmodern culture of connecting with your tribe in personal branding is also setting side by side different aspects of our self-image and opposing views. Fragmenting our narratives, documenting extremely realistic images, sharing contents that support the complexity of ourselves is appreciated by many.  Transforming our opinions and beliefs offline and online, into what we consume, wear or undertake should be an acknowledgment of contradictions that make us human.

Emma Watson- Ready for anything after @SheFighter training with Lina Khalifeh. She opened the first self defence studio for women in the Middle East. I’ll be chatting with her and 8 other activists about challenging gender stereotypes at @OneYoungWorld Ottawa later today.
Emma Watson- Ready for anything after @SheFighter training with Lina Khalifeh. She opened the first self defense studio for women in the Middle East. I’ll be chatting with her and 8 other activists about challenging gender stereotypes at @OneYoungWorld Ottawa later today.

Forming a loyal postmodern tribe or a community demands the understanding that diversity, differences and similarities are in a state of flow. For that reason, plug in to identify trends and shifts from passing ideas, harness your capabilities to help others, tune in to your supporters to help you grow, take risks to make an impact and be conscious of the fluidity of ideas and our ways of life.

 

Featured image is work of art by : JR –  The artist exhibits freely in the streets of the world, catching the attention of people who are not typical museum visitors. As he remains anonymous and doesn’t explain his huge full-frame portraits of people making faces, JR leaves the space empty for an encounter between the subject/protagonist and the passer-by/interpreter. That is what JR’s work is about, raising questions…

4 Elements To Define your Brand Voice

Everyone has a brand! The impressions, we leave behind, are combinations of how we have reflected our traits and presented ourselves. Done correctly, it serves as a compass for personal development, establishes credibility and is instrumental to our success. Personal branding starts with the ability to outline your skills, intellect, strengths and style. It gives you a clear focus using your best elements and what sets you apart. Once defined, you will be able to shape your brand voice.

The very first step is to pen down:

  • Who you are! You can use simple terms to define your attributes, such as:

    cheerful, confident, culturally curious, witty,….  

  • What is your mission another word your brand promise? An example would be:

    “I have a positive outlook, I bring passion and creativity to my work and I am in my element when I help others,…

  • Define guidelines by thinking of what is your brand and what is not:

    Bohemian not conventional; lighthearted not poker-faced; compassionate not indifferent,..

  • Write 5 words that best describe your core values & guiding principles. The essential qualities that you live by and they create value and connection. Such as:

    Aspirational, spirited, caring, loyal, honest,…

The exercise gives you a solid foundation to create a coherent brand voice that holds together all your efforts and communication through any medium, to establish your brand.

Now, bringing the brand voice to life has a clear path. Your social media engagements, your style, your interactions are all guided by a set of references that articulates your personality.

 

 

Featured image: artwork by Metis Atash – Crystal Buddas Sculptures