Friends have often asked why I created Kindkudos. Here’s my story:
Like so many people, my sister feels socially isolated. Since moving to England from South Africa, it has been difficult for her to make new friends. Raising two children and working have left her little time to meet people and break into a new culture. Since the loss of both of our parents, I have become her main emotional support but given the time difference between England and the U.S., I’m not always available for her. I kept wondering: How could I create a tool for her to know that she is loved and appreciated when I couldn’t be there for her? And, not just her, but the increasing number of people who feel more and more socially isolated in our fast-paced world.
At the same time I was trying to figure out how to help my sister, I was taking a course in the “science of happiness.” I was surprised to learn that the United States, while one of the wealthiest countries in the world and a leader of so many trends, ranks only 17 out of 156 countries in the World Happiness Report (World U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network). In fact, there is a growing body of research that shows while people need some level of financial security, increased wealth does not necessarily correlate with increased levels of happiness.
Digging deeper into the research, I learned that social connection is fundamental to human happiness. People are social animals and we need to feel connected to a tribe, whether that is our immediate family, a group of friends or a larger community. We need to know that we matter to someone. I started asking people how they felt connected. How did they know they were loved and appreciated? Many people told me about the scattered collections of notes or expressions of love and appreciation they kept. Some were in shoeboxes, desk drawers, journals or email files. Many people kept voice messages on their phones, some desperately trying to hold on to the voices of loved ones who had died. It was amazing to see their faces light up as they recalled these kind words.
I started to imagine how great it would be if everyone could keep these messages all in one place and easily access them anytime they needed a little pick-me-up. It would be like keeping a little love in your pocket. I realized that if we made it easier for people to reach out and be kind to others they might do it more often, ultimately making the world a better place. Kindness usually begets kindness. Recipients of kindness generally want to pay it forward and many times a single act of kindness leads to many acts of generosity.
My hope is that Kindkudos will spread kindness and gratitude and help people feel more connected and happier. My dream is that Kindkudos will help us realize that true happiness lies in meaningful connection to family, friends and community and not in the pursuit of material wealth, so we can build a happier and more sustainable world for future generations and ourselves.