Spread meaningful kindness every day with these anecdotes and actions that can help bring change to our lives, our relationships, and the world.
Practicing kindness is an essential step in helping to repair a world that has grown to be more divisive, lonely, and anxious than ever. But with quotes like, “Just be kind” or, “Throw kindness around like confetti,” we’ve oversimplified what it takes to actually demonstrate kindness in a world crying out for it.
Deep Kindness pairs anecdotes with actions that can make real change in our own lives, the lives of others, and throughout the world. Diving into the types of kindness the world needs most today, this book takes an honest look at the gap between our belief in kindness and our ability to practice it well—and shows us how to put intention into action. Exploring everything from the empathy gap to the skill of emotional regulation, Deep Kindness is perfect for anyone who believes in a kinder world and recognizes that there is a lot of work to do before we achieve it.
Chapter 1: Kindness Isn’t Normal Chapter 1 KINDNESS ISN’T NORMAL I spend a lot of time thinking about the importance of Kindness in a world seemingly too busy for it. Kindness is one of these essential things that we collectively say is good, but we collectively aren’t very good at.
Why? Why are we so bad at something we believe in?
Why is it that we can so universally agree on the value of something and not be very skilled at it? How can Helga sit in pain, alone in an airport, and have three thousand people bypass her suffering?
This book, in many ways, is for Helga. Almost every day I think or talk about her story. In some ways it’s because I know that, at any given moment, I could live her story. I’m acutely aware that none of us are immune from adversity. We will all, at some point along the way, be desperate for a moment of human Kindness and connection.
For two hours, three thousand strangers walked by her moment of profound hurt. In her deepest sadness and loneliness, thousands of opportunities for companionship and comfort shuffled or sprinted by on their own well-intentioned way.
I was in the Hot Dog Seat, crying while she cried, when she arrived at her conclusion: “You know what I realized as three thousand people walked by, Houston? I realized that Kindness isn’t normal.”
Kindness isn’t normal.
Those words have stuck with me all these years. It has been the foundation upon which I’ve built much of what I do, because I want to live in a world where Kindness is the baseline—a world where everyone is capable of meeting the basic human need for attention, hopefulness, and care. A world where people have the skills and the courage to stop and help someone crying in the airport. A world that believes in Kindness as the single most important skill for more meaningful lives and more abundant, caring, connected communities.
I believe in a world where Kindness is normal. And I’ve learned along the way that it’s going to take a lot of work.
Houston Kraft’s job is to practice kindness. In high school, he started an organization called Random Acts of Kindness, Etc. (R.A.K.E.) to create a more connected, compassionate campus. In college, he created OurKindness with a focus on service, community building, and reducing anxiety through intentional acts of care. Over the next eight years, Houston spoke at over 600 schools, organizations, and events globally to over a half a million people. He has spoken in over thirty states, Mexico, Canada, and Uganda. In 2016, Houston cocreated CharacterStrong, which provides curriculum and training for safer and kinder schools and has already worked with 2,000 schools internationally, serving over one million students with their message, daily. In 2019, Houston was featured by Lay’s for their Spreading Smiles campaign.
“Deep Kindness reminds us that when we show up in our lives with empathy, compassion, and love, our world changes for the better." —Leon Logothetis, bestselling author of The Kindness Diaries
“This is a must-read for parents (and everyone, really) everywhere—especially in today’s charged atmosphere. Houston breathes life into tough-to-tackle topics with stories, practical activities, and meaningful reflections. Parents can and must use this book to help the next generation understand what true Kindness really means."— Michele Borba Ed.D., educational psychologist and bestselling author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World and Thrivers: The Surprising Reason Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine
“Deep Kindness is a book for everyone—even the skeptic. In a raw and real and relatable way, Houston Kraft takes you on a journey to challenge your notion of what kindness means and exactly why deep kindness can heal and transform our world. You will smile, and most likely tear up. You will learn and be pushed outside of your comfort zone. And, most importantly, you will end up with a greater understanding of why kindness actually matters.”— Jaclyn Lindsey, Co-founder & CEO of kindness.org
"Motivational speaker Kraft (Deep Kindness) explains a demanding version of kindness in this vibrant work. He contrasts his version of selfless and courageous kindness that will heal the world with what he calls a “confetti” kindness that requires little thought or commitment. He provides tools for overcoming incompetence, insecurity, and inconvenience, arguing that incompetence can be changed with empathy and vulnerability, insecurity can be addressed by tackling embarrassment and shame, and the burden of inconvenience (such as necessary daily tasks and routines) can be minimized by building kind habits. His advice often notes the need for careful consideration rather than assuming what someone wants (for instance, the kid eating alone in the lunchroom may not want company, or your company) and cautions against the “unintentional arrogance” that can accompany good deeds. Kraft’s clear definition of necessary reorientations readers should consider (like forgiveness as “separating the person from the behavior” or reframing busyness as a matter of priorities) makes his suggestions accessible. Kraft’s insistent but doable nudges toward self-sacrificing kindness will resonate with those who enjoy the work of Piero Ferrucci."