The beloved creator of Blues Clues and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and protégé of Fred Rogers explores the importance of kindness and how it can change your life in this essential guide and tie-in to the PBS special, “The Power of Radical Kindness.”
Angela C. Santomero, the creator, executive producer, and head writer of many of today’s most popular educational children’s shows believes in the radical power of kindness, on her shows, and in her life. Inspired by her mentor Fred Rogers, beloved host of the classic, award-winning PBS show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Angela has dedicated her life to teaching others that when you treat yourself and others with warmth, empathy, and respect, life changing benefits follows.
From the true meaning of self-care and the gift of vulnerability, to the importance of active listening or the magic of asking for help, Radical Kindness goes beyond The Golden Rule and entreaties to “be nice,” contending that kindness is the key to recognizing others, and ourselves, as worthy of love and understanding.
Much like gratitude, Angela contends we need a kindness practice. A practice in which we learn to see with our hearts and act from a place of compassion. As the Dalai Lama says, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Through practicing radical kindness—toward ourselves, with loved ones, and to the world at large—we can transform ourselves, our neighborhood, and our world for the better.
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Kindness Definitions & Suggestions
I feel a bit mixed about this book. There is much to recommend in its contents, in terms of persuading people who might be “on the fence“ about choosing to be kind in what seems an increasingly unkind world, or so it would appear often, to now think about and adopt more kind behaviours towards themselves and others.
My challenge in reading this book has been that I consciously chose kindness as fundamental to my attitudes, actions and way of life many years ago, and having cultivated so many of the ways that are highlighted and suggested in this book, I saw most of it as “common knowledge” and mostly self-evident. If you are well tuned into the ways of empathy, compassion, respect, and kindness, to name a few valuable human traits one can consciously give life to on a daily basis personally and interpersonally, there is some value and reassurance in the content coinciding so nicely with one’s own belief system and experience. But equally, that left the book to seem a bit disappointing ... it was no longer about acquiring new information as I had hoped, but affirming existing ideas and beliefs. Again, that has good value too, but I hoped for more, some little bit further insight from further along the kindness path, in addition to the fundamentals.
With respect to readers who may be just beginning to be more aware of kindness and its roles, and our ability to choose kindness over other less desirable behaviours that so many facets of society appear to negatively encourage, the book does, however, provide a great overview with respect to the definition of kindness plus specifics how to practise it. The author’s connection with Mr. Rogers shaped them, and entices us to its reading, to connect us similarly. Perhaps that carries more value for the newer convert to kindness, especially one who might be intrigued over picking up a treatise on kindness without its powerful associations with Mr. Rogers and the foreword’s revered author, Deepak Chopra.
The writing is sound but not special; I would have preferred a bit better editing in places. Perhaps from emulating our hero of kindness’s gift for understatement and childlike simplicity in delivery is the reason, in part, I also felt a bit underwhelmed by the writing in this book? Possibly. While it isn’t a book I will ever rave about, there are several explanations and the suggestions for putting kindness into practice, that I could potentially see myself referring people to. And people who are questioning if being kind because they perceive so much unkindness around and towards them, whether kindness is a good choice, will find a lot persuasive reasons for cultivating kindness.