To commemorate World Kindness Day, social entrepreneur Cheryl Rice offered strategies for improving self-esteem and learning to value others in the Claire M. Fagin Hall auditorium.
The event, titled "The Heart of the Matter," was hosted Wednesday afternoon by the School of Nursing and aimed to celebrate how kindness helps people understand their worth. World Kindness Day, founded by the World Kindness Movement in 1998, is observed around the world each year on Nov. 13 to reflect on the positive potential of acts of kindness.
Rice began by asking audience members to write compliments to themselves on sticky notes. She then told the attendees to walk around the room and introduce themselves to strangers using what they wrote on their sticky notes. This activity provided an introduction to the essence of the talk: "What does it mean to matter?"
“To matter is to know, respect, and honor the inherent and irrefutable significance of self and [others],” Rice said. “Kindness is mattering in action."
Throughout the talk, Rice also shared experiences from her personal journey. As a leadership consultant who focuses on helping women advance their vision, Rice has led seminars for clients like Pfizer, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Penn Medicine, Campbell's Soup, and the Wharton School. She is also the author of the memoir "Where Have I Been All My Life? A Journey Toward Love and Wholeness" and has published essays in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.
Rice said she had self-esteem issues in the past and used to be a “hyper helper” who had the “disease to please.” By building self-compassion, Rice said, she was able to solve these problems.
Rice also drew a distinction between surviving and thriving. She used the metaphor of a detailed plant tag, which lists soil and water requirements, to represent the list of necessities that a person needs to thrive in life. When Rice asked the audience what their plant tags would say, attendees responded “a good dinner,” “eight to 10 hours of sleep,” and “180 grams of protein a day.”
Nursing freshman Lance Louie said the talk made him reflect on the importance of self-care.
“Our lives are so fast, and we often neglect to take care of ourselves,” he said.
At the end of the keynote, Rice distributed cards reading "You Matter" to all attendees. These cards are the hallmark of her organization, the You Matter Marathon, which lets people sign up to receive free "You Matter" cards that they can distribute with the goal of forming positive connections with other individuals and communities. The organization has now reached over 100,000 individuals in 50 states and 77 countries, its website states.
“The magnitude of a small card reminded me how important the small things are — giving up your seat, opening a door, saying good morning,” Louie said.
Audience members also shared ways to improve self-love, including being patient, taking breaks, and forgiving oneself for past mistakes.
As Nursing junior Elise Dunlop put it, “In order to help others, you have to work on yourself."