An interview with Michael J. Chase from The Kindness Center
I had a chance to speak to Michael recently to learn more about The Kindness Center. This is what I learned…
Please give an overview of your work. How do you share the philosophies of The Kindness Center?
The message of kindness is universal, so most people tend to connect with it quite easily. My teachings help people to realize that their own happiness is actually the key to creating a more peaceful and kindhearted world. Knowing that “World peace begins with inner peace,” my work reveals how fulfilling relationships, vibrant health, and an inspired life are not only necessary for a person’s well-being, but also have a positive impact on every single individual on our planet. Simply put, when people are authentically happy in life, they are more loving and compassionate toward others and the earth.
I speak to students at schools starting with 6th grade and up. The students really connect with my message because of its simplicity. I also speak to adults at business conferences and in workshops.
What is the mission of The Kindness Center?
The mission of The Kindness Center is to inspire the world to practice kindness as an actual lifestyle. It’s truly all about making decisions from the heart. By looking at yourself, other people, and the planet through the heart’s perspective, you can begin to live in ways that create happiness for everyone. There are a number of specific choices I offer students, which lead to kinder living. It is critical that they understand these life principles now, rather than wait until entering “the real world.”
Tell me the biggest benefits for middle school students who have seen your presentation.
The number one thing students tend to take away from my talks is the realization that they are 100% responsible for their own happiness. After hearing about my difficult past, they realize that major challenges are simply an opportunity to grow, become more compassionate toward others, and ultimately, to help people going through similar situations.
What differences do you notice about the students today, from the students of 5 or 10 years ago?
The greatest difference I see is in communication. Before texting, facebook, twitter, etc…kids were actually required to have real, face to face conversations. I truly believe that the future belongs to those with the greatest people skills. Learning to communicate with kindness and respect is more valuable than any college degree or technical knowledge. The quality of a person’s life will always come down to the quality of their relationships…and the quality of their relationships will be determined by the way they speak and act.
What is your definition of success when speaking to students?
If I were asked this question as a teenager I would have given a radically different answer. When I was in school I believed that success was about recognition and accumulation. Today however, I feel that it is never about what you get, but rather…what you give. Making life better for other people is my personal definition for authentic success. I believe that contributing to the lives of others in a positive way is the sole purpose of our existence.
How do the students respond to your talks?
I’m always blown away by the response. I have received hundreds of handwritten letters from students in the past two years. After most of my talks they also create a “hug line” to thank and hug me. Sometimes the kids are crying, telling me about their life, and how they want to change. It’s just amazing. As adults, we need to remember that kids struggle with many emotional issues just as we do. They are incredibly hungry for positive energy in their lives.
How does your message address the challenges of bullying?
It’s really quite simple. Whatever we are for will empower us, while being “against” will weaken us. Being against or “anti-bully” only magnifies the problem. Being for kindness, compassion, and respect however, moves us towards positive change.
How can people learn more about your work?
For more information about my work, grant money available for school programs, and my new book, “am I being kind – how asking one simple question can change your life and your world” (Hay House Publishing, April 2011) please visit my website at www.thekindnesscenter.com