Learning kindness in relationships


They say no act of kindness is ever too small and, according to Durban psychologist and author Paul Bushell and radio personality Jane Linley-Thomas, the simple act of being kind can change us and our relationships for the better.

While being kind may seem like a simple act, not all of us have the tools needed to change our ways and make kindness an intentional act. That’s where Paul and Jane and their new support facilitation programme, KindnessCan, comes in.

The programme helps facilitate healthy relationships with the world, in the workplace, the people around us and ourselves – by teaching people how to be kind.

When psychologist and author Paul contacted Jane and asked her to write the foreword for his book (#raisingkids To Thrive in a Constantly Changing World), the pair knew from their first meeting that they both a deep desire to be a part of shift to see more connection, support and healing within their community.

Fast forward a couple of months and they’ve now joined forces and started KindnessCan – a kindness movement that includes talks, workshops, activations and interventions for schools, corporates and organisations and the greater community.

“Kindness is wonderfully contagious, and we believe that kindness – as simple as it sounds – has the ability to foster better relationships with ourselves and those around us. Our message is kindness to self and others – and we offer ways to help achieve this.”

Working with a wide range of people in different circumstances, including teenagers, schools, corporates and parents, Jane says each group brings their own energy and personal story, and she and Paul believe they can adjust their message and offer practical tools for each group and situation.

“In many ways Paul and I are the conduits for the conversations and experiences that gently guide people towards kindness,” says Jane.

When looking back at some of the traumatic stories she had covered on her show at East Coast Radio, Jane she realised that so much pain could have been avoided if there had been more kindness.

“I also realised that I had fallen into the trap of my work getting all my sunshine and rainbows, and my family sometimes just got the scraps of me and what was left of my patience and kindness. It was when I become aware of that, that I realised I had choice in how to manage those triggers and behaviours.”

As a psychologist and author of a book about raising kids to thrive in a constantly changing world, Paul strongly believes that kindness will be one of the most important job and life skills for the future, truly believing that kindness can change the world.

The decided to create a space or venue where meetings, workshops, creative sessions and classes could be hosted and Jane roped her family and a local fabric company in and turned her garage into a safe oasis of love and kindness . . . a creative and tranquil space for important conversations, a place that is now called The Kind Studio.

Jane says the workshops they host on a monthly basis are so important for work, school and home for many reasons. “They give people a sense of belonging, being able to connect, share and not feel so isolated. To leave feeling seen, heard and supported can only have a positive effect. Kindest takes practice and conscious effort. We hope that we can share some inspirational and practical tools for being kinder with ourselves and others.”

Their hope is that KindnessCan will one day roll out programs nationally through schools, corporates and communities, allowing Jane and Paul to spread a message of kindness and give people the tools and encouragement to do this.

“Somewhere along the way, many of us forget and misplace the value and skill of kindness. Sometimes we all need a reminder and a nudge back in the right direction”.

This Mother’s Day KindnessCan is hosting a high tea for mothers, daughters and sisters to come and celebrate motherhood at the kind studio on 4 May from 11am to 1pm. The morning will include amazing goodie bags and a talk with Jane and Paul.

Details: [email protected] | www.kindnesscan.co.za @KindnesssCan on Instagram and KindnessCan1 on Facebook

Text: Monique De Villiers-Delport | Photographs: Derryn Schmidt Photography