If you care a little more

BETTER PLACE

If you care a little more

Think about the time when you made a deliberate attempt to brighten someone’s day, without expecting anything in return. Didn’t it make your day as well? Under the guise of a hectic lifestyle and competitive environment, we forget to notice others, often leaving us bitter and cold. We forget that it’s not so much about the destination, as it’s about the journey.

When Sudhir Suraneni moved to Mumbai many years ago, his family was exhausted by the time they reached the rented flat, after a rather tiring train travel. “The owner, an old man in his seventies, had a ‘move-in’ kit ready for us. He had arranged for tea and lunch
packets for all of us and had even made a list of essential phone numbers. It was a very warm gesture. I will never forget his kindness,” recalls the retired lawyer. And he is repaying the kindness, by paying it forward. “Now that we have tenants, we’re ready with the ‘move-in’ kit because it helps,” he says.

It’s infectious

We’re hardwired to believe in the theory of survival of the fittest. But research shows that we also look for human connect with fellow beings. When we perform an act of kindness, we’re likely to encourage others to act in a similar way. Kindness is infectious!
“My daughter and I were buying ice-cream the other day, when I noticed a small boy in rags cleaning a nearby vehicle. I bought two ice-cream cones — one for my child and the other for the boy. Watching us, another person decided to buy the boy some fruits from a nearby stall. The boy’s face lit up; his happiness was gratifying,” says Vrinda P.

Kindness need not be in cash or kind, it could manifest in a simple gesture – say a smile or patient ear. The unkind people may, sometimes, need your kindness the most. Rajeev N learnt this life lesson while dealing with his new team manager. “She was fine during the initial days, but she was increasingly becoming irritable. One day, while I was presenting my idea in a meeting, she was busy ridiculing it. I was frustrated and wanted to confront her,” shares the marketing professional.

Once they got out of the meeting, Rajeev asked if they could go out for coffee. She agreed. As an icebreaker, he asked her if everything was fine at home. “She was cold initially, but after a few minutes, surprisingly, she broke down. She was going through a rough patch with her bed-ridden husband, and it was overwhelming for her to handle two kids and a crippled husband. She bared her soul for nearly thirty minutes, and I simply listened. When we left, she said she felt much better after talking to me,” he says. Rajeev felt better too for not being judgmental, for lending an empathetic ear to someone when she needed it the most.

The next time you have to deal with an unpleasant person, take a moment to contemplate that s/he could be fighting some ugly battles. Show some kindness, in whatever way possible. A kind heart enjoys great happiness and good health. Studies show that engaging in regular acts of kindness can leave positive effects on your brain. It creates a feeling of wellbeing and elevates your mood.

Researcher Stephen Post believes that altruism as a lifestyle gives you more health benefits than regular exercise.  Free but pricelessAccording to Mangala Suresh, kindness broadens one’s perspective. She says so from personal experience. “I was riding the bike, when I lost control and fell frothing in my mouth. My daughter tried to help me, but I didn’t respond. A two-wheeler rider stopped immediately and put us into an autorickshaw that took us to the nearest hospital, while he followed on my bike. He got me admitted to the hospital, got my daughter to call my husband and left only after my husband arrived. That man was an angel in disguise, and he has changed my perspective onbeing helpful and kind,” says the grateful homemaker.

It’s a misconception that kindness is dead. It’s all around us. But, to sense it, we need to open up our hearts. Vidya Sivaram fondly recalls the time when her husband was out of town and she fell terribly sick. “I had an infant to manage, and it was exhausting for me to even get out of bed. One of my neighbours was kind enough to provide us with meals,” she reminisces.

Living in today’s times among varied cultures, religions and nationalities, it is possible that we may feel lonely. Preoccupied with our fears and problems, we withdraw from others into our little cocoon and become cold. But what connects us with others is the
language of kindness.

How many times have we berated an auto driver for his rash driving? But have we ever bothered to ask him if something was bothering him? Poornima Krishnan did, and the response prompted her to do something that would have the cynics nodding their heads in disapproval.

“Sometime last year, I was going home in an auto and the driver was driving rather rashly. I asked him to drive slowly. He apologised and told me he was very worried as his wife and kids had met with an accident few days back, and were hospitalised. He was working all day to meet the medical expenses. He asked me to pray for their wellbeing. I was touched and disturbed by his story,” confides Poornima. On reaching her destination, she handed him Rs 1000 and wished his family a speedy recovery.

“He never asked for the money. He was surprised and thanked me profusely. As I walked back home, I felt light and happy…I tried to help his family in whatever little way I could,” she says.

Kindness costs nothing, takes no time and could make someone’s life or day. The feeling is special and liberating when you do something for someone without the intention of having them to pay you back. So, find opportunities to do something good — however, small it may be.

For Moumita Basu, it means buying stuff from vendors on the street, without
bargaining. “I do buy a whole lot of stuff, sometimes just to give them away. I don’t
believe in bargaining. I don’t want to be rich by paying Rs 30 less to a vendor on the streets, whose profit margin may be lesser than that,” she reasons.

As the Dalai Lama has said, “Our nature is basically compassionate because we are social animals. What brings us together is love and affection.”  In a world that’s filled with anxiety, fear and distrust, compassion, empathy and generosity restore our faith in the human spirit.

As social beings, we are likely to imitate behaviour, be it positive or negative. If you need some inspiration, watch the movie Pay it Forward. Like the young boy who attempts to change the world by doing three good deeds to others and requesting those people to keep the cycle going instead of paying him back, we can also start a kindness chain.

It takes only a handful of people to make a difference. And the difference you can make could be phenomenal. So, pay it forward.

What you can do

Appreciate the kind waiter at the restaurant and leave him a tip, you can afford.
Offer to drive your neighbour to the grocery store, or if s/he is unable to go, get their list and do the shopping for them.

Offer to teach, bake or write, or develop a program free-of-charge for someone who may need it, and ask them to pay it forward.

Talk to the shy person in the group. Make them feel important.
Help someone promote their business or project with the use of technology or social media.

Instead giving you birthday gifts, ask family and friends to donate that money to a good cause or charity.

Cook or bake something special for your house help or driver.
Smile at the community helpers and appreciate their work.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry