This is part of a series looking at micro skills – changes that employees can make to improve their health and life at work and at home, and employers can make to improve the workplace. The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell have created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and well-being of their employees first. Read about the 2018 winners of the award at tgam.ca/workplaceaward.
Register for the 2019 Employee Recommended Workplace Awards at www.employeerecommended.com.
How much do you think having a good day is due to luck?
For some, the quest to have a good day can be akin to finding a four-leaf clover. Good days typically evade us, and when a cycle of bad days becomes a pattern it’s common to think that we’re down on our luck.
A common symbol of good luck, a four-leaf clover represents many things, such as hope, wealth, love and health. However, unless it’s given, finding a four-leaf clover requires purpose.
This micro skill of intentional kindness moves you from wishing you had a good day to creating a good day for yourself and others through intentional kindness.
Using the four-leaf clover as a framework, four areas of life can engage intentional kindness: self, personal life, professional life and public interactions. Kindness can be defined as a healthy action that provides a perceived benefit.
Some examples of intentional kindness:
Self-kindness – enjoy some guilt-free downtime (for example, take 30 minutes to quietly eat lunch).
Personal life kindness – help a spouse or family member do a household chore.
Professional life kindness – bring one of your teammates a green tea without being asked.
Public interaction kindness – slow down and hold a door with a smile for someone and say¸ “Good morning.”
We may not be able to find a four-leaf clover every day, but we can create goodwill for ourselves and others through one act of kindness in each of the four areas. Through self-awareness we can look for these kinds of opportunities each day.
Our life success and happiness most likely do have some degree of luck. For example, showing up at the train station at 8:45 a.m. instead of your usual time of 9 a.m. could be the reason you meet a new person who ends up having a profound impact on your career and life.
Wishing for such moments can be disappointing. Life happens, and whatever luck we have is by chance and often unplanned. However, we can create our own luck by paying attention to what we do each day to help ourselves and others using intentional kindness.
This micro skill is based on motivation, willingness to suspend judgment and taking charge of our decisions and actions by performing at least one act of kindness in each of the four areas.
Many of us have lists of things we think we need to do daily that makes it feel like it’s hard to relax or slow down.
Intentional kindness is one way to train our brain to be kind to ourselves and enjoy moments in a busy, hectic world. It’s not about giving ourselves or others permission to self-medicate to feel better, to avoid responsibilities or as an excuse from responsibilities. It’s all about being considerate, concerned and gentle to ourselves and others around us. If you’re tired and struggling to keep up with the demands of the day, allow yourself to say you’ve had enough and go to sleep. The benefit is to feel well rested and positioned for success to pick up the challenges tomorrow.
How to develop your intentional kindness muscle:
Intentional kindness challenge: Make a commitment for four weeks to consciously look for at least one opportunity each day to perform an intentional act of kindness in each of the four kindness areas of self, personal, professional and public. At the end of each day, write out your acts of kindness and score your day on a scale of one to 10 on how good it was overall. At the end of the four weeks, compare your daily scores on the last week to those of the first.
Luck versus living: Waiting for good things to happen that can change our life often results in regret. By paying attention to what we do intentionally each day we can improve our experience and opportunity for creating more good days than bad. Being kind to ourselves and others doesn’t guarantee that each day will be great, but it does remind us how much our happiness and mental health are within our control and that it doesn’t take much to help ourselves or someone else feel better.
Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto.
You can find all the stories in this series at: tgam.ca/workplaceaward