One of the people who inspired me through my teenage years and still to this day is one of my good friends, Kristina Cavit. With a big smile and a bubbly personality, she is someone who naturally sees the good in everyone. One thing I really admire about Kristina is that she doesn’t just talk about wanting to make a difference in the world, but she really takes action. She is one of those special people who turns her dreams into reality.
Having worked in NPH orphanages across Latin America, set up NPH New Zealand, studied the work of Byron Katie and become a yoga instructor, Kristina has now set up the Kindness Institute to teach mindfulness to youth in Aotearoa and globally. We were lucky enough to catch up with her this week.
Thanks for catching up with us Krissy! Can you tell us about your vision for the Kindness Institute and how you hope to see it grow?
My dream that I set the institute up with was a dream of a world where everyone has the access to tools they deserve to manage stress and regulate emotions, so I would love to see things like meditation and emotional intelligence skills becoming really available and talked about.
I think we need to normalise the narrative around our mental health and allow our children and our community to see that it is ok, and it’s positive and it’s cool to talk about challenges because we all face stress to some degree.
Well, you certainly inspire loads of people (myself included!). Who inspires YOU?
So many people inspire me!! My boyfriend actually really inspires me. He got diagnosed with a disease a few years ago, and decided that he would just live his life doing what makes him happy, and he truly does. And it inspires me to see him living his dreams day to day, spending time with people that he loves and not getting caught up in this kind of societal pressure to succeed or achieve or make money. He is much more concerned with being kind, compassionate and connected with people and I find that super inspiring.
What is it like working with marginalised youth?
It’s the best! It’s the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning, I just love the rangatahi which are the youth, the young people that I work with here in Aotearoa and abroad in Latin America when I worked with the NPH orghanages.
The Kindness Institute is doing incredible things for Kiwi kids. What kind of results do you see in your programmes?
In our pilot program we worked with a high school for an hour a week over a term and we saw 99% of students report a reduction in stress and many say that they had been better able to manage anxiety, depression. The principle talked about an increase in focus and compassion and how those impacts seem to have lasting effects from just one hour a week, so that’s really blown me away.
On a more personal level I’ve seen kids with behavioural challenges and sometimes criminal behaviours become very compassionate, engaged individuals who are so grateful to have the opportunity to be in an environment of love. It’s not rocket science what we’re doing; it’s just love.
And I think there are a lot of kids out there who get faced with a lot of fear and judgement and are marginalised every day.
So if a kid gets angry at us and throws a fit, instead of throwing a fit back we have to pick them up and meet them with love and kindness. That’s always the practice, you know.
What advice would you give now to your 17year old self?
Oooh, I love that! “Have more fun!” You know, mentally. Outwardly it looked like I was taking every opportunity and always having this great time, but on the inside I was definitely putting a lot of pressure on myself to achieve, to get good grades, to be the best, to be perfect and flawless at what I did, and now I realise that’s rubbish and my advice would be, “Relax, enjoy the moment. Be as present as you can because everything is going to work out.” And I think if you ask me that question again in 20 years, I think that will be the same advice- “don’t take things so seriously”.
Who is the Real You?
The real me is the one who doesn’t worry about the future and things that could go wrong, it’s kind of, that version of myself that is just so connected with the moment that I’m in right now, connected with the people that I’m with, the place that I’m with, and not stressing about the future or the past. I think it’s definitely the real me that sense of light and fun and happiness that I have in moments of real joy… That is the real me. And my practice is to remove the layers more and more so I can connect with that as much as possible!
For more about Kristina, check out her website, http://thekindnessinstitute.com
“So what’s next?” Is that dreaded question when leaving school. For me at least, this question made me squirm inside....