Mother Teresa once said, “People crave attention and appreciation more than they do bread.” This idea that people need love to survive is something Houston Kraft, motivational speaker and kindness advocate, promotes as he travels around the United States in an attempt to teach love and kindness.
On Wednesday, Jan. 16, Kraft returned to Friendswood ISD to speak with Friendswood High School ninth graders and Friendswood Junior High sixth graders and select seventh graders. Kraft first visited FISD during the summer to speak at convocation. After teachers and staff heard Kraft’s message, administrators knew they wanted to bring him back to speak to the students.
Kraft’s message primarily revolves around people connecting with other people on a human level.
“No matter how different we are, as human beings, we have a desire to be loved and a fear that we won’t be. So why be kind?” Kraft questioned. “Because it’s a fundamental human need.”
In relation to why the education system should play a part in teaching kindness, Kraft answered, “In a school day, we know we have the opportunity to teach people the skills that are going to make them fulfilled, successful, resilient and employable in the world.
“Research tells us if we’re only teaching academics, then we are only teaching 30 percent of what students need to be successful in the world,” Kraft explained. “Eight out of the ten qualities employers want are social-emotional skills; they’re people skills.”
Kraft explained how as society has advanced technologically, communication skills have regressed.
“As we become more connected through technology, all the data will tell us we’re actually more isolated, disconnected and depressed,” Kraft said. “In our current environment with all of its pressures, anxiety is going up, and as anxiety goes up, empathy goes down. If we want to close the empathy gap, then we need to teach the whole child.”
During his speech, Kraft articulated why kindness requires practice, how love can have different meanings and how one person’s forgettable moment can be someone else’s unforgettable moment.
Freshman Chloe Pitts listened from the front row, nodding her head in agreeance as Kraft spoke.
“[Kraft’s speech] really moved me,” Pitts said. “It’s so important because people are so beautiful, but complex, and people often forget that. We get caught up in this world of complexity and we stop appreciating each other.”
Pitts makes sense of this by comparing people to skies.
“I know that sounds weird, but there are so many beautiful things about skies – there are sunrises, sunsets, rains and storms, moments of quiet, but so often it’s just considered to be something that looms above our heads,” she said. “A lot of times, people feel like they’re just looming and not worthy of love.”
Pitts said hearing Kraft’s message encouraged her to be someone’s sunshine and reassure them they are not looming, but instead are cherished and loved.
“I have a book of people I pray for and another book with little notes of gratitude, so I kept putting off giving these things to people because I’ve been afraid of what they might think,” Pitts said. “Now, I feel like I have more confidence to give people those notes.”
In creating a culture of kindness, Kraft said there are no small gestures and that something as simple as a note can show others just how much they are loved.