Being kind is a skill that speaker and author Michael J. Chase has perfected. With a background of abuse and a willingness to spread kindness and love to everyone, Chase is a captivating speaker who held the attention of 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds for an hour and a half last Friday. The presentation discussed ways to show kindness, stories about bullies and explained to the pre-teens what it does to a person inside when they give and receive kindness. Chase was introduced by the Friends of Rachel club. Rachel was one of the first people shot in the Columbine, Colorado shooting. After her father came to speak to the school two years ago, clubs were created at the middle and high schools.
Chase’s speaker fee was paid for through an anonymous donor in the community.
“The ultimate in kindness is to donate something anonymously without getting anything in return,” Chase told the audience.
He broke the ice by bringing a student on stage and giving him a hug. “Your principal is an awesome hugger, too,” he told the students.
Chase had two grandfathers, one who was loving and wonderful, and the other who was abusive and unhappy. The second grandfather was mean to Chase in emotional ways that caused scars on him as a young boy, but instead of going down that dark path, Chase chose happiness.
“He was a very scary man,” Chase told the students. “Growing up around this energy wasn’t pleasant. He did acts of unkindness.”
Chase started to be interested in the science of happiness, he told the audience. He read books and listened to the world. “It’s like a great recipe. If you leave one ingredient out, it’s just not the same,” he said. He was missing one of his happiness ingredients…gratitude, which he learned from a turtle which was in the middle of a road.
“Kindness creates happiness. A simple act of kindness takes you out of your head and puts it right into your heart,” Chase said. “It’s a real thing. It’s called the helpers high.”
Chase has done 12 hours of random kindness with students at Boston University. He has also done 24 hours of kindness, where he gives hugs, buys people coffee and with his kindness crew makes people happy.
He also spoke about letting in the energy of the power of receiving. “When someone offers you everything, take it in.”
He read quotes to the students that gave meaning to what he was saying. The same boy who was hugged at the beginning returned to the stage and was given a brick to hold for five seconds with one hand, arm out straight.
The brick represented anger, hurt and resentment. Chase explained that when a person holds onto those feelings it weighs him or her down. The brick analogy demonstrated how hard holding on to bad feelings can be.
“Simple everyday acts of kindness have a ripple effect,” he said. Negativity works in the same ripple effect. There’s no telling how many people are affected for good or bad by one simple action.
The Kindness Center, based in Biddeford, can be found online at www.michaeljchase.com and on Facebook at The Kindness Center. Chase’s books are titled “I am being kind” and “Loving Everyone.”