"Kindness and compassion are among the principal things that make our lives meaningful. Consideration of others is worthwhile because our happiness is inexplicably bound up with the happiness of others."  - the Dalai Lama

Kindness is essential for our survival.  The qualities of kindness, empathy, trust, gratitude and forgiveness are in urgent need today and every day. The human being is hardwired for altruism.  The giving of kindness benefits the receiver, the giver and all who witness kindness.

There is a great deal of hostility, negativity and hatred in the world today.  We tweet, Facebook, Instagram, email and watch hatred every day on TV.  Mean makes headlines but the human race continues because of kindness.  I see kindness every day.  

On February 19th, I had ear surgery at Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia.  I felt kindness all day.  My wife got up at 4:30am to get ready to drive me to and from the surgery.  Before we left our home, she got our special needs daughter ready for the day.  Diaper change and feeding from 4:30am to 5am.  Our youngest son Christian took care of his sister including medicine, breathing treatment and percussion vest so we could go to the hospital for a 6:30am appointment.  We entered the hospital to be shown kindness by the car attendant, the reception desk woman, the surgical center registration nurse, the nurse that checked me in.  Every questions was with a smile.  The anesthesiologist was kind and clear with his questions and the ear surgeon was positive and comforting.  In the surgery room, the women who got me set on the operating table were all warm, friendly, clear and kind.  Until the sedation put me to sleep, all I experienced was kindness.

I awoke to a sweet voice saying "Mr. Stecher, surgery is over, you did great."  In recovery, I continued to be treated with kindness and respect.  Being helped, supported, and guided to the bathroom and to the post op recovery room where I got to see Sandra, my role model for kindness.

I was helped to dress, given post op instructions and a kind man wheeled me to our car.  Sandra drove home and made me soup.  The rest of the day, as everyday, my wife, children and friends showered me with kindness.  My loved ones are kind because it is in our DNA to be kind.  So it is for all of us.  We are born to be kind.

Kindness gives meaning and value to our lives.  It makes us healthy physically and psychologically.  Kindness has an essential impact on our health and well-being.  Kindness can transform us.  Kindness is a universal intervention.  A child treated with kindness grows in health.  A student treated with kindness grows to believe in themselves.

Kindness is giving up revenge and domination.  In kindness, we recognize others perspectives.  We work to understand their point of view and their challenges.  

We are at a critical time in America.  Kindness is essential to our survival as a people, as a nation.

"One nation under God (kindness), with liberty and justice (kindness), for all (kindness)."


One of the greatest human needs, along with food, water, shelter and touch.  We are biologically designed to nurture, connect, and touch each other.

“We are hardwired for connection” - Berne Brown

It is through the human power of kindness and connection that we will solve the challenges of the world.  I am no longer enammered with intellect.  I know too many very bright intellectuals doing very little to help the world and the people in the world.  I also know countless individuals whose compassion, empathy, and kindness has touched hearts, minds, and saved lives.  We have the power to be warm, caring, sensitive, open and understanding.  These profound human character traits bring a deep heartfelt caring for the value of every precious human life.

We all need compassion.  In our pain and grief we are healed by the loving presence of another human being.  Love is the greatest of all human strengths.  Love transforms our pain into forgiveness, gratitude, and integrity.

We are all blessed with our own personal stories of challenge, compassion and growth.  I invite each of us to reflect back on our lives to a time when we were compassionate.  Allow yourself to remember and feel the warmth of extending compassion and love to another fellow human being.   These are the transformational moments of life.  Those single moments of trusting, listening, saying I love you, holding a hand and giving a hug.  These are the finest moments of human connection.


"From your brains perspective, treating people around you with kindness is usually, but not always, the right response." - Dr. Paul Zak, Trust Factor

Compassion improves behavior much more than being tough.  Throughout my 47 years in education, I have often investigated and discussed with fellow educators what is our best intervention for a student who is underperforming or behaving inappropriately.  In my 20's, I sometimes responded with anger and frustration.  Expressing my frustration was a very honest reaction and did allow an outlet for my stress.  It may have stopped the students inappropriate behavior for a short period of time because her or she was frightened but overall it was not helpful.  Generally I have found that punishment is not helpful in challenging behavior.  I have grown to the place that in my late 60's, I preach to focus on compassion and curiosity.

Compassion and curiosity ask "What happened to you?"  Compassion and curiosity moves me from the judgmental place of "What's wrong with you?"

Current research in Trauma Informed Care and empathy tells me compassion will be the better intervention.  Compassion and curiosity will initiate connection, build relationships, and build trust and loyalty.  Students will see their teachers as kind and this kindness "elevates" their trust and loyalty.

"Trust profoundly improves performance by providing the foundation for effective teamwork and intrinsic motivation." - Dr. Paul Zak, Trust Factor

Research also tells us that not only will the student who receives our compassion and curiosity be elevated, but all the students who witness our compassion will also increase their trust and loyalty and be elevated as well.

Compassion increases human beings desire and willingness to trust.  Neuroscience confirms, trust improves behavior and performance.  Compassion also reduces the students stress response.  The reduction in stress and the increase in trust increases creativity, learning and innovation.

Steps to respond with Compassion

- Take a Breath
We need to take a pause and breathe.  We need to control our initial fight, flight, or freeze response.  Pausing to take a breath invites a more mindful response.

- Empathize
We need to see the whole child and be aware of all that is impacting their life and current behavior.

- Forgive
Forgiveness strengthens our connection and relationship with students.  Forgiveness builds trust.  Forgiveness lowers your blood pressure and that of the persona you are forgiving.  Forgiveness reduces stress.

Compassion produces connection, trust, loyalty, creativity, learning and innovation.  
Compassion lowers stress and improves our overall health and well-being.

"We don't have to earn the right to compassion; it is our birthright." - Dr. Kristin Neff


The secret of mindfulness is simply paying attention, being aware.  The older I get, I realize that my education as a human being is based on being aware.  Aware of the small, minute details of life.

All of our relationships, thoughts, feelings and actions are enhanced when we bring our awareness to the moment. 

I can easily mentally complicate my life and bring mental clutter and stress into it.  It is simply and profoundly being aware that allows me to be in tune with the warmth of the sun on a cold winter day, the song of a bird on a clear morning, the unique touch of a loved one that touches my heart.  When we are fully aware, our love is enhanced.

Awareness is being in the moment.  Being in the now.  Wisdom is in the moment.  Love is in the moment.  Awareness is sensitivity.  Awareness is being connected to life.  In awareness, we are connected to other hearts and minds.  In awareness, we are connected to our thoughts and feelings.  This internal awareness brings peace.