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Visions Journal

A reminder that this article from our magazine Visions was published more than 1 year ago. It is here for reference only. Some information in it may no longer be current. It also represents the point of the view of the author only. See the author box at the bottom of the article for more about the contributor.

Brad Stokes-Bennett

Reprinted from "Men's" issue of Visions Journal, 2005, 2 (5), p. 32

The Extreme Kindness Crew is in the business of making people feel good. It is a group of four young men based in Victoria who, after September 11, 2001, decided to empower themselves and the people around them with simple acts of kindness.

As a member of the Extreme Kindness Crew, I have discovered the power that “extreme kindness” has in contributing to the welfare of a person’s mental state.

As a young man, my personal peace of mind was often directly related to my physical and recreational activity. By challenging myself with surfing, climbing mountains, snowboarding, sailing or even just running long distances, I tapped into a powerful force, which I now call the “extreme.” The extreme can also be found in many other ways: reading a book, watching a movie, dancing or writing a poem. When studying English literature at the University of Victoria, I found reading and writing certain types of poetry an incredible way to connect to the extreme. I learned more and more that the extreme can always be found in the same places you find your passions.

By pairing the two energies of extreme and kindness, we in the Kindness Crew have been able to sustain our mental health and well-being while taking on the huge challenge of connecting the world through kindness. We make sure we are always being true to our passions in life, and at the same time, we are making our planet a better place to live.

Kindness is a universal language that can be used to connect our world—an invisible thread tying each living person together. It is defined in every language and culture, and the core definition usually includes generosity, helping and giving to others. It is a simple and powerful social tool that bridges the gaps between all the cultural and legal borders of the world’s nations.

Kindness and the opportunity to perform random acts of kindness can be found everywhere—you just need the right perspective to see them.

We have come to realize that giving back to the community has the potential to be both fun and exciting. Being a kind person does not mean you have to sacrifice anything, but instead can result in incredible adventures and great stories. There can be no better way to interact with your world and the people you meet in it.

By committing to extreme kindness you give yourself the power to improve your life and the lives of everyone you meet. You allow positive energy to enter your thoughts on a constant basis, creating a healthy mental state. And you come to realize that you have personal control over how you are feeling day to day. If someone treats you badly or bad luck falls at your doorstep, all you have to do to improve your situation is to perform an act of kindness.

I definitely believe that our group can impact the lives of young men in particular. The Extreme Kindness Crew members serve as positive role models and set healthy examples for other young men to follow. We are living proof that kindness can be fun, healthy and empowering for young men. Being kind is an important part of being a balanced, strong and powerful young male. You don’t have to be mean to show your toughness and masculinity. The extreme in all of us is best utilized in the positive sphere of our thoughts and actions.

About the Author

Brad is a member of the Victoria-based Extreme Kindness Crew. Along with Erik Hanson, Val Litwin and Chris Bratseth, he has co-authored Cool to Be Kind: Random Acts and How to Commit Them

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