Youre Not Going to Kill Them With Kindness. Youll Do Just the Opposite. – The New York Times

Posted: January 9, 2020 at 6:44 am


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Id probably pick up any book that includes the words foreword by Jimmy Carter, because I know being in his company will make me feel better. OUR BETTER ANGELS: Seven Simple Virtues That Will Change Your Life and the World (St. Martins, 240 pp., $24.99), by Jonathan Reckford, C.E.O. of Habitat for Humanity, has such a foreword. When President Carter isnt writing his own historical or inspirational books, hes building homes with Habitat for Humanity for those who desperately need them. Our Better Angels lays out the seven virtues that can translate into action: Kindness, Community, Empowerment, Joy, Respect, Generosity and Service. This is a nifty way to organize a lot of great stories about people Habitat for Humanity has helped and to drive home the very important point that performing a service helps you, too even if the service is done out of duty, not love. Because in a certain sense, duty can become love as the British in general, and fans of Downton Abbey in particular, can surely tell you.

Which may be why I was drawn to a book called COSY: The British Art of Comfort (HarperOne, 176 pp., $19.99), by Laura Weir. The American market has been inundated with bossy little books in which other countries tell us how to behave. (Korea, please stop telling me to empty my mind so I can begin to claim the power of nunchi. I am 58. I can barely hold on to the few thoughts I have.) But O.K., Im an Anglophile, and I was drawn to this one. Unlike hygge, which is beautiful in essence, but too often seen through the lens of interior design magazines, being cosy is completely personal, affordable and democratic. Cosy is your authentic self undone. I particularly enjoyed the chapter Cosy and Kind, where Weir indirectly lays out the connection between duty and love, with advice like Become the stealth de-icer: rise early and chuck down de-icing solution on the drives and steps of your elderly neighbors homes. They dont need to know, but you will. Alas, she also talks a great deal about creating small dolls and knitting woolly hats for charity. My Anglophilia stops short of knitting. Can I just send a check?

Victoria Turks KILL REPLY ALL: A Modern Guide to Online Etiquette, From Social Media to Work to Love (Plume, 224 pp., paper, $15.99) is one of the more amusing digital-etiquette books youll read. Simply put, social media has created a new universe of ways we can be mean to one another. So digital good manners are a great kindness, whether they apply to friends, work or love. (I like one of Turks definitions of love: Texting them even though your batterys at 5 percent.) And now, I know I will never leave anyone in a specific circle of acquaintances out of a group chat, even if I think he or she is uninterested; let that person opt out himself. Lets say its a book club chat. By God, everyone must be in there, even if Janet has questionable opinions about Nabokov and Leslie can turn every club meeting into a discussion of her grandchildren. These, like many of Turks lessons, are kindnesses I can live with.

Perhaps the most interesting (because the most personal, while also the most steeped in data) is Kelli Hardings THE RABBIT EFFECT: Live Longer, Happier and Healthier With the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness (Atria, 272 pp., $27). For instance: In other wealthy nations over the past few years, life expectancy has been rising, while in the politically turbulent United States the trend has moved the other way. In 2016, we ranked 43rd in the world for life expectancy. Coincidence? We spend a fortune on health care, Harding notes. So whats missing?

Well, as it turns out: everything. To dismiss the role that issues like abuse, discrimination and loneliness play in health, Harding writes, is like fixing up an airplane engine and ignoring that the pilot is on his third drink at the bar and a massive storm is overhead.

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Youre Not Going to Kill Them With Kindness. Youll Do Just the Opposite. - The New York Times

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January 9th, 2020 at 6:44 am