In the end, only kindness matters
I just returned from the 4th annual Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, California. The objective of the conference was to address the challenge of our generation: “to not only live connected to one another through technology but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective in our work and useful to the world.”
Where else but in San Francisco can you find a conference with speakers ranging from U.S. Army Veterans, spiritual gurus, a Congresswoman, a myriad of technology experts, the Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Co., and a Tibetan Nun? The topics included, “Envisioning the Conscious Corporation,” “Wisdom Teachings for Young People in the Technology Age,” “The Art of Conscious Leadership” and “Radical Compassion.”
Surprisingly, the two worlds of technology professionals from Google, Linked In, Twitter, and Cisco merged organically with Wisdom and Mindfulness Teachers; Sharon Salzberg, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Roshi Joan Halifax. There were a lot of conversations about social change, mindfulness in the corporate world and the healing powers of compassion. This wasn’t hippy-dippy stuff, this was a group of 1700 motivated people having important conversations about our future with human connection in the Digital Age.
With the theme song from Wonder Woman in my head, I left the conference wearing my metaphoric “wisdom” superhero cape feeling optimistic and inspired to take action towards positive change in the world. But, the question kept arising…“How can I make a difference?”
Here is one small step:
Meng Tan who is Google’s “Jolly Good Fellow,” (yes, that is his official job title) gave a short presentation on the power of kindness in changing the world. Meng believes that world peace can be achieved “but only if people cultivate conditions for inner peace within themselves.” And, practicing kindness towards others is one small step we can make towards this inner peace. He then took us through a short, simple practice of kindness towards others. We were asked to randomly choose two people in the room and spend 10 seconds silently wishing them happiness. I looked at the back of the head of the woman sitting in front of me and silently said to myself, “May she be happy.” Then the guy at the end of the aisle, “May he be happy.” Check. Done. That was easy and it felt good. He suggested that we spend the rest of the day sending this wish to two random individuals, spending just 10 seconds on this practice each hour. It was so ridiculously simple. His point was to make kindness a mental habit.
Maybe our wish of happiness towards two random people every 10 seconds won’t cosmically, instantly or dramatically make them happy, but it’s more than that. When we practice this habit of sending kindness to others, we are cultivating happiness within ourselves. The practice of kindness is intrinsically rewarding. It brings about happiness and cultivates compassion. When we have more moments of happiness and compassion within ourselves there is a ripple effect. Our happiness and compassion affect our interactions with our families, our friends, our communities and ultimately our world. If we all chose to practice “small random act of kindness” imagine how we can change our world. It’s contagious. When discussing this idea with my 10-year-old daughter she said, “It’s like a love virus Mom.” Out of the mouth of babes.
I know from witnessing change in my own life that it’s the small, consistent acts we do that matter. Try this experiment for yourself. See if you can start a habit of silently sending kindness to two random people, just 10 seconds every hour and start spreading the “love virus” around.
For more information on the conference, including videos of some of the sessions, go to www.wisdom2summit.com