The Gift of Kindness

"You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!"

When my kids started school, they would invariably like one teacher more than another. When I asked why they liked her, they said, " because she's kind."

Kindness is a virtue that is unforgettable!

Some years ago when I was visiting Tokyo, I was unable to get directions to the office I was trying to reach. Failing several attempts to figure it out on my own I asked a sweet looking young lady who seemed to be hurriedly going in the opposite direction. She looked at the confused, scribbled map I had drawn, thought deeply for a few moments and in broken English said she'd walk with me for 3 blocks to make sure I could find my way. Even though that wasn't her route she made the extra effort to help me find my destination! Before leaving she handed me a small, silk handkerchief, smiled and said, "welcome to Japan!" Small and rare yet invaluable gestures of kindness!

Maya Angelou says it perfectly, " I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Remember, that the elaborate net of life has a single thread, our shared humanity and the potential for kindness in every moment. A smile takes only a second but could change someone's mood for the whole day.

Much of the time we forget this important thread, that how we relate to ourselves and others is far more important than the things that we do. Much of the time we hurry through activities, so focused on the outcome that the little interactions along the way are ignored... The shopkeeper, the receptionist in the office etc are irrelevant.

Being kind is often dismissed as weakness. With all this competition around us it means "winning" at any cost. Criticism and cynicism are taken as signs of power and intelligence... So, for the sharp shooter being kind or empathetic is a courageous act because they may need to be vulnerable and the fear of being taken advantage of always looms large.

I now know, that becoming aware of how we treat ourselves is the key to seeing how we relate to others too. Many times, in a culture such as ours, we seem to function in extremes ___ either completely self-centred, selfish, or totally selfless. Neither extreme is necessary. I specifically mean that kindness cannot be shown to some and not to others without disastrous outcomes...when we single out the recipients of our kind attention it doesn't quite define the whole.

There was a study on the larger effects of Serotonin, the feel-good chemical in our body, which is a natural ingredient the brain produces when we feel fulfilled and happy. It is found that a simple act of kindness, like helping an aged person cross the road, produces Serotonin for the giver and the receiver.... Not just that but someone watching this act has a  surge in Serotonin production in his brain as well!

A  single act of kindness springs up roots and makes new trees. A quality that is contagious...when people watch others being kind they become inspired to do the same. It is an experience more powerful than words. It's more than a philosophy of's a philosophy of the spirit.

It creates a ripple effect that spreads with no end in with it!

Until next time!
Ritu Malhotra