Elaine Parke’s Habits of Unity are an organized system of kindness that can foster habitual positivity—and create a healthier nation in the process.

           There’s nothing wrong with random acts of kindness. But for Elaine Parke, allowing kindness to happen “randomly” isn’t enough. One, we need to hardwire kindness into our life as habits, so we practice it as automatically as brushing our teeth or checking our email. And two, if we want to generate some real “oomph,” we need to join together with others who are practicing the same flavor of kindness at the same time. Holidays work like this because we all know when to celebrate what, together.

“If everyone got organized around kindness, imagine the positive energy we would generate,” says Parke, author of The Habits of Unity: 12 Months to a Stronger America…one citizen at a time www.12habits4allofus.org. “Imagine how the world would shift.”

Parke has always found it stressful to feel like a helpless bystander in the midst of conflict, pain, and insensitivity. That’s why she’s poured so much energy into creating a tool to help people stay focused on what they can control: the choices they make regarding their daily attitudes and actions. Her Habits of Unity is an organized system of kindness that she believes has the power to help America heal, one citizen at a time.

Parke’s mission to “help people get along better” has been a lifetime in the making. From mentoring young gang members in Chicago, to volunteering at an elementary school, to raising her own sons, her life experiences consistently showed her the transformative power of kindness and connection.

And here’s the other part of the equation: A successful career as an executive expert in marketing and advertising taught her how to effectively promote ideas as well as how to motivate the behavior of large groups.

“All of this came together in 1987, when I began to develop a vision for a strategic year-round plan that would focus on one aspect of kind, unifying behavior each month,” she explains.

She named her creation the “Habits of Unity.” It’s a simple, doable framework that gives people the tools to uplift themselves, improve their mental health, and work toward unity with one another. Practitioners focus on one branded behavior each month, all of which adds up to—you guessed it—an organized system of kindness.

The system, around which her new book is structured, contains 365 “one-magic-minute-a-day” light-hearted and enjoyable motivationals that are aimed at helping readers form one good habit per month:

January: Help Others

February: You Count

March: Resolve Conflicts

April: Take Care of Our Environment

May: Be Grateful

June: Reach Higher

July: Become Involved

August: Know Who You Are

September: Do Your Best

October: Be Patient and Listen

November: Show a Positive Attitude

December: Celebrate Community, Family, and Friends

Parke describes the Habits of Unity as “Mental Nutrition”: a consistent diet that nourishes, encourages, and brings people together.

The Habits of Unity were first put into practice in Somerset, Pennsylvania, where color-coded, habit-forming, short messages were distributed throughout the community each month. The results were astounding. After three years, 72 percent of participants said they felt more warmth, unity, and neighborly togetherness on a daily basis. And in participating schools, reading and math scores improved, and detentions declined as much as 62 percent in one year.

“Outcomes statistically proved our campaign moved community-wide behaviors toward becoming more uplifting and unified,” Parke says. “I’m proud to say that in the three decades since, the campaign has positively inspired several million citizens in western Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, and in West Virginia.”

The Habits of Unity program was sponsored by Rotary International in post-genocide Rwanda as a tool to inspire youth to maintain peaceful relationships with one another. It was also deemed a “Social Invention” by the London Institute for Social Inventions.

With those successes under her belt, Parke hopes her new book will spark a unity revolution that rises from the ground up and sweeps our nation. She believes kindness is the key to curing a surprising number of America’s ills, from the division and disunity plaguing our political system to the disrespect and incivility with which we treat one another.

“By habitually consuming content that reminds us to be kind to ourselves, other people, and the earth we all share, we collectively have the power to unify our nation,” Parke says. “Kindness always resonates.”

Elaine Parke, MBA, CS, CM, NSA, is the author of The Habits of Unity: 12 Months to a Stronger America…one citizen at a time. For 30 years, under the umbrella of the non-profit All of Us, Inc., her scalable and evidence-driven 12 habits of social unity model has transformed several million community citizens and youth across the USA’s Midwest and in Rwanda, helping them feel more caring and connected to one another. In 1993, her monthly branded and colorful habit-forming model was deemed a “Social Invention” by the London Institute for Social Inventions.

To learn more, please visit www.12habits4allofus.org.