According to Dr Kelli Harding, Physician and Author of The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness, a major determinant of our health is our social relationships and our connection to our community. She refers to this as a hidden factor of health.
Working in emergency room in New York, Dr Harding observed that some patients who were seriously ill were doing much better and thriving in many respects compared with some patients who had treatable conditions. She found that our day-to-day connections with people in our lives made a big difference to our health and that loneliness can affect our health adversely.
The book title “The Rabbit Effect” takes its name from a 1978 study on rabbit heart health. The study found that a group of rabbits was in much better health than others because they were petted and talked to and treated with love and kindness by the researcher. Dr Harding’s research found that kindness can have a healing effect and an effect on wellbeing.
Everyone can make a difference when they reach out to connect with others with kindness, she says. When asked about what we can do when we meet unkind people, she says that kindness is a practice and it is hard. We need to keep in perspective that as humans, we do not have it altogether. Hurt people hurt others. Many people have histories of trauma and many people are in pain.
Dr Harding had in her article Why Kindness Is the Key to Improved Well-being also highlighted that studies have shown that the strongest predictor of a man’s death from heart disease isn’t cholesterol or blood pressure. It’s his job. Or her job. Everyone knows it’s important to have a good doctor, but it’s also important to have a good manager and to give people the skills that they need to be good managers!
She calls on CEOs to look at the process and the people involved even while focusing on the bottom line, suggesting provocatively that they toss out their human [resources] manual and just rewrite it as, “Be kind.” We need to be kind to people in our schools, in our workplaces and all of these different capacities.
Given that work takes up so much of our time and energies, business and school leaders and leaders of human resource who heed Dr Harding’s call to write “Be Kind” in their human resource manuals and to give people the skills to be good managers can make a difference to the health and well-being of their workforce.
Josh Bersin, leading HR thinker, in his article Our New Role: Bringing Kindness to Work posits that the human element is most important of all and that a new role of HR leaders is to bring kindness to work. He says, “kindness at work has now become fundamental. While inclusion, fair pay, and development remain important, kindness and connection are now essential.”
We need to redesign the workplace for kindness!
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