It’s time for a kindness revolution. In The Kindness Cure, psychologist Tara Cousineau draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to show how simple practices of kindness—for ourselves, for others, and for our world—can dissolve our feelings of fear and indifference, and open us up to a life of profound happiness.
Compassion for ourselves and others is our birthright as humans—hardwired into our DNA and essential to our happiness. But in our fast-paced, technical savvy and hyper competitive world, it may come as no surprise that rates of narcissism have risen, while empathy levels have declined. We now find ourselves in a “cool to be cruel” culture where it’s easy to feel disillusioned and dejected in our hearts, homes, and communities. So, how can we reverse this malady of meanness and make kindness and compassion an imperative?
The Kindness Cure draws on the latest social and scientific research to reveal how the seemingly “soft skills” of kindness, cooperation, and generosity are fundamental to our survival as a species. In fact, it’s our prosocial abilities that put us at the head of the line. Blended with moving case studies and clinical anecdotes, Cousineau offers practical ways to rekindle kindness from the inside out.
We are wired to care. The very existence of our human species evolved because of an intricate physiology built for empathy, compassion, and cooperation. Yet we have an epidemic of loneliness, indifference, and cruelty, and we see these destructive trends on a daily basis in our families, schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces. This important book teaches effective skills in compassion, mindfulness, and social and emotional learning, and reveals successful social policy initiatives in empathy taking place that inform everything from family life to education to the workplace.
Kindness has the exponential power to renew relationships and transform how we think, feel, and behave in the world. Will you be a part of the revolution?
Foreword vii Introduction 1 1. Kindness Takes Effort 9 PART 1: To Be Human Is to Be Kind 2. Your Kindness Instinct 20 3. Happy to Help 25 4. Cultivating Courage 31 5. Compassionate on Purpose 37 6. Imagination’s Objects of Affection 44 7. The Kinship of Belonging to Each Other 50 PART 2: Your Caring Mind 8. Reset Your Stress 59 9. Befriending Your Senses 66 10. Emotional Paradox 72 11. The Power of a Pause 79 12. Face-to- Heart Connections 86 13. Hugs and High Fives 92 14. Taking in Kindness 99 PART 3: Kindfulness 15. Mindfulness with Heart 106 16. Your Loving Self 112 17. The Naturalness of Being 118 18. Radical Acceptance 124 19. Singing for Our Souls 131 20. Cherishing the Little Things 136 21. An Attitude of Gratitude 143 PART 4: Kindsight 22. Grace and Grit 150 23. Forgiveness Is a Gift to Yourself 157 24. Apologies Make for a Friendly World 163 25. Writing New Beginnings 170 26. Accepting a Helping Hand 176 27. Gifts in Kind 183 28. Networks of Generosity 190 Conclusion: Reimagining Kindness 197 Acknowledgments 203 Resources 205 Notes 206
Tara Cousineau, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, meditation teacher, well-being researcher, and social entrepreneur. She has received numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovative Research program. Cousineau founded www.bodimojo.com, and develops digital wellness tools for youth. She is affiliated with the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion at Cambridge Health Alliance in Somerville, MA. She is mindfulness trainer and chief science officer at Whil, a digital mindfulness company, and serves as a scientific advisor to www.kindness.org. She is dedicated to global efforts to spread kindness in both small ways and large.
Foreword writer Stephen Post, PhD, is coauthor of the bestseller, Why Good Things Happen to Good People. He has been quoted in The New York Times, Parade, O, The Oprah Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, and Psychology Today. He has also been interviewed on numerous television shows, including Nightline, The Daily Show, and Stossel. A transformative speaker and thought leader, Post has inspired thousands with medical and philosophical knowledge based on thirty years of research.
“Grounded in solid research, this book is heartfelt, funny, and so helpful, with tons of practical suggestions and effective tools. Sharp, insightful, and right to the point, Tara Cousineau shows us how live from a strong heart. Highly recommended.” —Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Hardwiring Happiness
~Rick Hanson, PhD
“A lovely book, replete with simple kindness and full of reminders of how to enjoy and embody a kindful life.” —Jack Kornfield, author of The Wise Heart
“This is a wonderful book that focuses on kindness, bringing in work from a variety of different disciplines. If you want to learn to bring more kindness into your life, this book is a good place to start.” —Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion, and associate professor in the department of educational psychology at The University of Texas at Austin
“Using practical techniques supported by research, Tara offers simple yet powerful exercises that reconnect us to qualities of compassion and kindness, and in the process, incline our minds and hearts to dwell in these states more naturally. The Kindness Cure gives us carefully considered, warmly delivered keys to a deeper experience of kindness and connectedness.” —Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness and Real Love
“If there were a single practice capable of transforming person and planet, it would be kindness. If you were to read a single book on kindness, let it be this one. Blending her expertise in psychology with her deep life experiences, Tara Cousineau offers you a path for cultivating kindness within and without.” —Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness
~Rabbi Rami Shapiro
“Kindness truly connects people across their differences, and is the key ingredient in social change which this book beautifully demonstrates. Through a research lens, Cousineau takes us on a journey that is witty, relatable, and encouraging. It’s a practical guide to understanding just how much kindness can reshape our world for the better. A must-read.” —Jaclyn Lindsey, cofounder and CEO of www.kindness.org
“For many years, Tara Cousineau has shared her message about the power of kindness and compassion to lift others out of the distress and despair of everyday living: from daily hassles to wrestling with inner feelings of low self-worth, and sense of disconnection. Putting her message into a book about our innate ability to care and be kind, and how to nurture this capacity, is timely and much needed. I, for one, would welcome it as a resource for clients and colleagues.” —Nancy Etcoff, PhD, author of Survival of the Prettiest, and assistant clinical professor and psychologist at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry
~Nancy Etcoff, PhD
“Our world is hungry for kindness, and I know Tara Cousineau as someone who is dedicated to inviting more kindness, compassion, and understanding through her writing. I highly recommend The Kindness Cure for the wisdom it contains.” —Donald Altman, author of 101 Mindful Ways to Build Resilience, The Mindfulness Toolbox, and One-Minute Mindfulness
“We have chased personal success and happiness to the point of exhaustion. No matter how much we achieve or acquire, we come up empty, lonely, bereft. In short, we are in need of a cure. But, as Tara Cousineau so elegantly and thoroughly reminds us, our medicine is in our DNA. We are wired for caring, connection, and compassion. Read The Kindness Cure ;and pass it on. Let the ‘infection of kindness’ begin!” —Janet Conner, author of Writing Down Your Soul, The Lotus and The Lily, Find Your Soul’s Purpose, and more
“In her warm and wise voice, Tara Cousineau reminds us that beneath our often frenzied and distracted lives, kindness is at the heart of our being. Even with the practice of mindfulness, life is difficult for everyone. Kindness is an action we can perform in almost every moment; it connects us to others and brightens all our lives.” —Susan M. Pollak, coauthor of Sitting Together, and president of The Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy
~Susan M. Pollak
“Tara Cousineau has created a groundbreaking, beautifully written book on kindness. It is a forgotten concept, but one which is vital for our health and well-being, especially in the times we live in now. This important book contains up-to-date, scientifically-based information and effective strategies for incorporating or reintroducing kindness into our lives, with enough personal and patient anecdotes to keep the reader interested and motivated. Even though I have been a therapist for thirty years and thought I knew a bit about kindness, reading this book truly challenged me to create more ways to incorporate more into my life, with my patients, my family and friends, and myself.” —Alice Domar, PhD, coauthor of Live a Little! (with Susan Love, MD), Be Happy Without Being Perfect, and Self-Nurture