Building walls to take down barriers

Let’s make World Kindness Day every day of the year.

Kind word bubbles leave colorful reflections in a rainy Times Square.

On November 13th, we built walls to take down barriers.

As you might imagine, World Kindness Day is every day for us—but that doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate the official day. This year, we asked ourselves what would happen if we gave kindness a voice. “Dear World,” said the voice of kindness, “We need to talk. YOU have the power to show the world that kindness is all around us.” And you know what? People listened.

Kindness transcends difference, and in a kind world there is no place for bullying, racism, sexism or homophobia—only respect and compassion for our shared humanity. In Times Square and London we brought interactive art installations to the streets and invited people to share declarations of kindness.

School children joined us in London (photo by Carys Lavin) and in Times Square there was even a proposal. (He said YES!)
People braved the cold and rain in NYC, and our team was warmed by the wonderful words from participants.
Uplifting messages in multiple languages inspired hope, and we even made the evening news on Fox5 NYC!

Kind words are powerful.

“Keep going, you can do it.”

“We’re all just walking each other home.”

“You are loved.”

Thousands of kind messages like these were seen by tens of thousands of people in person and online, sparking more kind acts. In Times Square, Kazlene from Florida surprised the whole team with coffee because she just couldn’t walk away from kindness (and kept coming back to check on us). Molly from North Carolina witnessed Eugene propose to Jason and spontaneously gave them a gift to treat themselves to their first dinner as an engaged couple.

People stepped up in Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Cape Town, Texas, Kansas, Michigan, Canada and Brazil. Together, we logged thousands of acts kindness on walls in cities, towns, workplaces and schools—and that was just on World Kindness Day.

Brandy organized a chalk wall in downtown Owosso, Michigan.
Laurie in Alberta, Canada, Mr. South Africa Habib Noorbhai in Cape Town and Erin in Galveston, Texas, organized creative kindness walls.

Kindness walls popped up in workplaces across the United States.

Zappos, Ogilvy and SoulCycle used imaginative ideas to get busy employees and clients to take a moment to share kind words. We were impressed with how even skeptical and deadline-driven employees took a few minutes out of their day to participate. Zappos went above and beyond with a traveling flower of kindness that could only be passed from one person to another by writing a lovely note to the recipient. Laura in Kansas and Chelsea in Seattle brought kindness to their workplaces, too.

Business media picked up the conversation and Forbes published a piece by our CEO Jaclyn Lindsey on “Why Kindness is the Solution to Workplace Woes.” We were also thrilled that our Sincerely, Kindness campaign was featured in Adweek, underscoring our belief that marketing can be a force for good that promotes social change.

Of course SoulCycle shared “Good Vibes” in their message bubbles. And Ogilvy’s creative team got well, creative, with photoshop and clever prose.
Technically, this giant flower of kindness from Zappos is not a wall. We also love the whiteboard bubble from Chelsea’s workplace in Seattle!

Social media was flooded with kind messages.

Many of us spend much of our time online, and so getting people to share kind words on the internet is just as important as starting a dialogue about kindness on the streets of cities and towns. With shareable gifs, videos and graphics, we gave people tools they could use to easily reach out to others on the internet with personal messages of support, appreciation, inclusion and love. We were filled with hope when we saw tens of thousands of people across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram talking about and doing acts of kindness on World Kindness Day, including reaching out to tag others with messages of gratitude and compassion.

We’re leveraging science to create lasting behavioral change.

Everything we do is rooted in research and science through our kindlab, which conducted three new studies in 2017. Early results show that, overall, being kind has positive effects on your wellbeing, levels of compassion, optimism, feelings of social connection and positivity toward humanity. These preliminary findings support previous research and our meta-analysis of the existing scientific literature on kindness.

We designed the Sincerely, Kindness campaign around principles of behavior change communication to stimulate behavior, not to just raise awareness and affect attitudes. When we look beyond the campaign to create an environment where kindness flourishes each and every day, it’s about carefully collecting the data and numbers to measure our impact—and asking careful questions about the evidence to focus future efforts.

We recently surveyed over 1000 people from 60 countries for a study about cyber-kindness — looking at what people do and why they do it. And in October we launched a Citizen Scientist program which currently has 160 Citizen Scientists actively researching the role of kindness in the workplace.

Now it’s your turn.

Want to grab some delightful images, gifs and videos to send messages to friends, family or strangers? Interested in creating a kindness wall in your city, town, school or workplace? Inspired to become a Citizen Scientist for kindlab IRL, no lab coat or degree required? Visit kindness.org for more information and shareables. Every act, no matter how small, counts.

Together, the sum of our acts will change the world. — Sincerely, Kindness