Radican kindness

Sometimes you find the right book, and sometimes the right book finds you. While trying to select the “perfect” book to review, I changed my mind no less than eight times. One evening, while working at the front desk, a couple came in asking for assistance with the copier. Being relatively new to this library, I am genuinely thrilled when I have the knowledge to help patrons. I must have showed my enthusiasm because the man I was assisting thanked me profusely and said I was “incredibly kind and the world needs more people like you.” Honestly, I didn’t do anything I felt was too extraordinary, but I nonetheless appreciated his comments.

Twenty minutes later, I was shelving new books and “Radical Kindness” by Angela Santomero caught my eye. The perky flowers on the cover were hard to miss, but as I looked beyond the cover I realized this was a book about the exact same thing the patron had commented on: spreading kindness to the world – the perfect follow-up to our exchange.

Santomero is the creator of the popular educational children’s shows “Blue’s Clues” and “Super Why!” Her experience and passion for connecting with children is central to the book and her method for spreading kindness to others. She instructs the reader to embrace their inner child by reconnecting with something that brought them joy in childhood. Children view the world with curiosity instead of judgement, something we lose as we grow older if we are not mindful, and she provides guidance for this readjustment.

Later she explains that helping others and being kind to others actually improves our own lives and uses accessible examples to illustrate her points. Additionally, when we ask someone for help, we are providing others with an opportunity to feel needed and helpful, which improves their lives simultaneously.

Overall, this short book serves as a gentle introduction to the idea that helping others enhances not only their lives but our own and can, in turn, slowly change the world. One of the most powerful sections of the book proposes that the reader take 15 minutes a day to connect with another human – meaning, put your phone down, actively listen (there are instructions) and give someone your full, undivided attention every day. Looking around at any restaurant or public place, it is not hard to realize that not many people are doing that, but we should because we are all starved for human connection.

There are meatier books that do deeper dives into the idea of helping others as a way to improve the world and our own lives, but this one is accessible, joyful and a wonderful jump-off for making small adjustments in our day-to-day lives. I do not know many people who couldn’t benefit from taking an afternoon to read this book. It concludes with 32 ideas for spreading kindness. My personal favorite is: give someone a non-superficial compliment. We easily default to compliments about appearance; dig a little deeper and show someone you truly see and appreciate their true value. Give it a try to see how it feels, and pick up the book for the other 31 ideas.