Tuesday, September 8, 2015

An Act of # Kindness.

It was a very cold day.I saw an old woman lying by the roadside in front of my home.She was obviously very sick,probably burning with fever.Her husband stood by,watching her helplessly.There was not much he could do.The day was very windy and they must have been shivering with cold despite the sunshine.They were waiting for the consultation hours to begin at a nearby clinic.I made some tea and sent it down for them.They were visibly relieved by the gulps of a hot beverage.

This made me realize how essential it is for us to be aware of those around us and to be kind whenever or wherever possible.Some thoughts about it's benefits :--

Kindness increases happiness.
This did not cost me much time or money but the returns in terms of spiritual satisfaction were immense.This happened many years ago,but till date,whenever I think of that episode a rush of joy envelops me.A one time act has given me many moments of joy.A good turn releases endorphins which result in greater peace and fulfillment.This is known as the 'helper's high'.Kindness not only promotes the happiness of the recipient and the doer ,but also of the observer

Kindness is uplifting.
When we diverge from our trodden path to help someone; we evolve,become a notch better than who we were previously and feel worthy too.We develop the ability to discern the emotions of people around us and be concerned about them.This hones our ability to empathize,which is any day better than scheming and deceiving. 

Kindness improves our mental health.
Unselfish acts stimulate the release of endorphins and serotonin.These chemicals have a calming effect--they regulate our moods and kill anxiety.We feel moral,upright,energetic and strong.It is as if we have passed a test.This is good for our self image.Somewhere deep down we feel that we are more deserving of good breaks,which kindles hope.

Moreover,thinking about others' problems and reaching out to them pulls us out of our own shell,shifting the focus from our own difficulties to those of others.Our tensions subside--we realize that we are not the only ones to have problems.

Kindness teaches us to be grateful.
The recipient of a good deed is usually one who is in a worse situation than our own.This makes us realize that we have a lot to be grateful for.

Kindness improves our physical health.
Research has shown that the kind kind live longer,healthier lives.The warmth associated with a kind act releases heart-friendly oxytocin which lowers BP and reduces stress.Altruistic people have fewer aches and pains and greater immunity.

Kindness gives us a bounty of good will.
We live in communities of sundry members.What happens to us,how we fare,whether we fail or succeed,whether we are well connected or isolated, happy or sad--all of this depends;not only upon our own efforts,but also on how others judge us and relate to us.Kindness generates good vibes all round.I would go so far as to say that even a casual observer will feel added respect for you when he sees you reaching out to someone in distress.In this way,it cures loneliness and social isolation;and makes life easy--not only for the recipient but also for the doer.

Kindness begets kindness.
When we give a leg up to someone struggling to keep afloat,that someone in turn,will most probably extend the same help to someone else.Kindness is contagious-it spreads and makes the world a better place.

Having said all this,a skeptic soul like me cannot but add a few disclaimers at the end:--

Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita cautions us to give alms charity and donations only to deserving candidates.Let me illustrate how misplaced charity does more harm than good:--
Not very long ago a prominent English newspaper carried the plight of a rickshaw puller who was forced to carry a newborn infant in a basket attached to his vehicle because his wife had died after giving birth to the baby.There was a deluge of contributions to his account and he became a millionaire.Guess what?He gave up plying the rickshaw,became an alcoholic and neglected his baby completely.

As in many other spheres so in kindness--too much of it can have a negative fall-out.Those who devote themselves heart and soul to volunteering,run the risk of suffering from Secondary Traumatic Stress or Compassion Fatigue.This was portrayed sensitively in a  Hindi movie Khamoshi wherein a nurse,in the process of extricating a jilted lover from major depression,herself succumbs to it.

Volunteering is said to be good for depression but those who are hyper-sensitive or easily impressionable should stay away from it.There is danger of them imbibing some of the negative characteristics of those whom they choose to help.

Those who have too much on their plates should also think twice before volunteering on a regular basis;or they could themselves end up needing help.Going overboard with kindness can result in physical,emotional and spiritual exhaustion.

Today most of us do not have enough spare time to take up philanthropy in a big way.But small gestures resulting from an awareness of how people near us are doing, also have a lot of significance.Things like opening a door for someone laden with many bags,holding the door open for the person coming behind you,smiling at a visibly downcast stranger,helping an elderly person cross the road,giving your seat to infirm or tired travelers and donating your goods--all these have the potential of making someone's day and earning you blessings.Such gestures are never wasted,what goes round,comes around!



Images courtesy google search.

42 comments :

  1. Loved this post first thing in the morning! Your kindness deed for the day, Indu, of making me smile :) I especially loved the second part of the post, which cautions against kindness in certain conditions. We have a saying in Tamil which says, 'Give alms, depending upon the vessel (meaning receiver).'

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    1. I am elated at the influence this post had on you Zephyr.This comment has been your kind act for me--believe me.
      The Tamil saying is truer today than ever,one does not know whom to trust.The swindlers are so good at their act.

      Love n hugs.

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  2. Wow Post.Hats off to you for offering your kindness to the old couple. Loved each and every things you said.

    Cheers,
    Sriram & Krithiga

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  3. It truly is uplifting. Helping someone makes you better person with each act. :)

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  4. A subject so simple wonderfully narrated and explained too! Thank you Indu ma'am:)

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  5. A nice post from a person with a generous heart..
    Thanks for sharing.. :)
    UK
    http://www.fashionablefoods.net

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  6. SriKri,Jyoti,Amit ji and UK F,you all have been so kind,thanks a ton..

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  7. This is a beautiful and thoughtful post! I really enjoy how everything you write has so much thought behind it. You really explore all sides to an idea or issue. Even here in regards to kindness. I agree with you, it is so important to do what we can. Sometimes something that seems small to us, to someone else is a great gesture of kindness. I also like what you said about how when we think of others it takes us out of ourselves and our own troubles. My mom taught me something similar when I was 14 and went away to boarding school. I phoned home crying that I was sooooo homesick and she told me when we were done talking our conversation that she wanted me to go and find someone else new at the school and ask them to go for a walk or coffee and to talk to them about themselves, get to know who they are and if they are homesick etc. It was great advice. :) A simple thing but rather than indulging me, she put my focus somewhere else.

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    1. Your effusive remarks have lodged me up in the stars Colleen and I am very happy that i could touch some precious memories of yours.I admire your mom's way of handling your problem.
      Lots of love n good night!

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  8. Lovely post Indu .... Kindness does uplift ones spirits and one should be vary of those taking us for a ride too .... In Chennai once a man and woman with a child stopped me on the road ... Theysaid they were from Bombay and had no money to go back ...taking pity I gave them 500 rs .... Getting bk home I came to know that my cousin had parted with some money a few days ago to the samefolks and it was their way of cheating apparentlyvulnerable folks ....

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    1. Giving money is a big no,no with me.I hate to be conned,well everybody does--but i am suspicious here.
      A correction--i do give to helpage.

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  9. As always most sensible advice. I missed your blog last 3-4 months - guess instead I should have been following it more.

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    1. Never mind the gap Karthik,i thought you were writing a book.
      One does need time off now and then.

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  10. if we all did just ONE act of kindness a day .. thats it One little deed.. the world will be such a beautiful place to live in

    Bikram's

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    1. Yes Bikram one small deed could mean a lot to the recipient.

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  11. Loved this post Indu.Makes the point so nicely. Kindness and empathy are uplifting, and yet must be reserved for the deserving. It is not without reason it is said that the giver benefits as much as the receiver.

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    1. Good Morning Somali and many thanks for your kind words.See,it has brightened my morning!

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  12. What a lovely post Induji... and I could relate with every word written here...
    Kindness heals you too :-)

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  13. a person in misery and a person in comfort are circumstances,a person with morals won't need someone's kindness and he won't accept someone's help coz he/she wants to be independent in all circumstances.people without morals change their behavior once they get into comfort zone from misery and we don't need such people in this world who are real misery on earth.

    kindness came into existence when people became immoral and why should we support immoral to survive.we should promote morals instead of kindness so that people just don't exist in misery.its like selling gensets coz of power cuts instead of producing enough conventional power though having resources.

    my dad being honest government official and influential person,he did help hundreds of people without expecting single penny,people who came to pay tributes to his body after his death called him god and after few days they forgot what all he did and they started behaving as if they never knew him or used to call him with name once they used to call him obediently as SIR.

    all scriptures tells us to help people without expectations,we dunno who is going to turn rogue or who is rogue,it will be better if we spend all our resources on single point agenda called morally right life,instead of classifying human goodness into many branches like KINDNESS etc etc which will always result in some misery.

    i had many field experiences,whenever i went out in autorickshaw or i met poor.they said that they need help or more money coz they are poor.when i asked them if they have guts to vote for a good man instead of corrupt,they just stayed silent.why should we help poor who don't have guts to vote for a good person.they just want their things get done at any cost without thinking long term consequences. we don't need such cowards who are against a political revolution or social revolution.we need people who are ready to die for values.otherwise this senseless NGO WORK and misery will be there forever across globe.we will be donating funds in the name of kindness all our life for million generations.

    hmm indu ji, this is how i write comments. i hope you are not miffed with my comments.


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    1. No rohan i am not miffed but i do disagree with you.
      Suppose an upright man slips on road will he not need a kind hand to help him get up?Very often even the moral fall into difficult circumstances.Take the example of Sita.When she was abandoned did not a sage give shelter to her?As humans it is our duty to help the needy,show them the right path if it is because of their own misconduct.Whether they reform or not is a separate thing,but we would have done our duty.

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    3. if i had written ramayan instead of valmiki,i might have written," sita being responsible queen and woman of integrity opted for death instead of shelter just to give birth to heir coz she thought her death and body being burnt to ashes in the middle of ayodhya will bring revolution in mindsets of people who accused her and ram without knowing facts".people might have stopped their accusations many generations back and dharma might have prevailed today.with valmiki's mistaken wisdom,people got relief when they came to know she is alive and they never understood agony of ram and sita went through.they never changed their mindsets till date.people think its ok to hurt others and they are just insensitive. sita might have left impression of real legend if she had opted for death for future generations.

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    4. Ha!Tell me another story...so many Sitas are being burned,molested,raped has it affected any one?
      Why should she have burned herself for such zealots?

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  14. Indu ji

    Have been trying to write a comment many times but just couldn't find the exact words to express my thoughts -----all your points a re so relevent , being kind does give a person so much of satisfaction and happiness ---at times one is taken for a ride but during such experiences I become selfish and try to console myself that at least I was good and may be God will give me a plus point for that :)

    lots of love :)

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    1. Yes people do swindle us sometimes but like you say it is better to be on the kind side.
      Love n hugs Rajni.

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  15. beautifully writte, yes Kindness does us a lot of good..some we may count, some are non countable.

    www.numerounity.com

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    1. Hi Ekta,thanks for the compliment.It is true kindness does us a lot of good.

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  16. Being the management grad, as I remember sometimes, I think of this in terms of 'marginal utility of money' :) When what you sacrifice means so little to you and what the recipient gets means so much to them, it is such a huge boost to the overall positivity in the world.

    Yes - the trick is to empathize without losing yourself in the situation of the other person. When you do the latter it can be damaging to both of you.

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    1. That is a very sagacious way of looking at it.Very well said Suresh--just what I think.
      When it comes to giving money the only problem is the trust factor.If this was not there many would have helped many more.

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  17. I totally agree..but Mr. Rohan,s comment also made me think and that saying from Geeta has troubled me for long and so many times I dont know what is right , whats wrong..
    Like whenever we give alms to a begging mother, we dont know, whether we are helping her or encouraging gangs,Should we give something to the child begging, or not?
    I hope to read something more on this here...
    But yes basic kindness in life is a very necessary virtue.

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  18. Renu long back I read this in Femina--A young mother had lost her-i mean he was kidnapped...they searched and searched but no use...after a couple of years--i forget whether in the same city or elsewhere--a young boy came begging to them...his hair was all unruly,hiding his face...on n impulse she uncovered his face and what? It was her son,dirty and bedraggled...she requested all readers to never give alms and i follow her request.
    I am sure you will have no doubts now.

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  19. Nice post! A heart full of kindness is closest to God and our life's happiness depends upon kind deeds done in past incarnation. so the entire cycle of happiness revolves around kindness :)

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    1. Oh yes,a very nice angle to the whole thing Ankita,thanks for this.

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  20. I agree with your points. We need to be kind to people, as much as possible coz we never know how one small deed might make a difference to them. It definitely makes the giver more happier than the receiver. Having said that, once people forget the act of kindness and focus just on the outcome, then the very purpose is lost.

    Wonderfully written post, thanks for sharing :-)

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  21. Such a wonderful deed of kindness by you!

    I like reading the small notes you keep giving on such different topics.

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Thanks for reading my post.I hope you liked it :).