The Times Of India


It’s the season of goodwill. There’s an outbreak of kindness in the air. It’s the new feel-good mantra. Everyone’s indulging. It could be a simple hug, a warm smile helping someone across the road, making a cup of tea after a hard day for you spouse!

The new wave of kindness isn’t about big charity money. Rather, it’s about being kind in your everyday life. The Times, London reports how it’s suddenly sexy to be kind! The belief is supported by research and even some books talk about kindness making people happier and healthier. Interestingly, David Hamilton’s Why Kindness is good for you, explores how it affects us on a chemical level. Even the British Medial Journal argues that the art of medicine should take a kinder view. Says spiritual guru Deepak Chopra, “I’m glad to see an outbreak of kindness. Right now, brain science has come to the aid of kindness. If you’re kind, it has a positive impacted on your body. Studies show that Tibetan monks meditating on compassion have higher reasoning and morality. Thus the good feeling that results from kindness is beneficial to the genes. When you do good for others, you are doing good for yourself”

The first mantra of kindness is: don’t fake it! Secondly, make kindness practical. So, celebrities are also trying not to appear ‘charitable’ for a reason, but be more genuine. Everyone, it seems, wants to wear niceness on their sleeve. It’s not just Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss and Nicole Kidman who want to spread kind gestures in the world. Kate Moss told Woman’s Wear Daily in an interview, “If you’re a nice person, it definitely helps.”

This wave of kindness goes beyond publicity charity. Salman Khan stocks up ’chocolate goodies’ in his car to give out. Actor Akshay Kumar writes in his blog, “You have the power to surprise someone with random acts of kindness, and that’s something I really feel good about.” Recession has made people realize that the path to true happiness is in nice gestures, as wealth can be temporary.

Quintessentially, goodwill gestures help you sharpen life-skills. You can’t fake real kindness. It isn’t about show-and-tell or celebrities and tycoons donating huge amounts to charity. Bollywood’s generation next girl, actor Shakti Kapoor’s 20-year-old daughter Shraddha Kapoor, is learning the value of such generous gestures. “The younger generation wants to reach out. Just be present when your friend needs you, a simple thank you can make a world of difference.”

A group of 20-somethings have launched The Kindness Offensive, a social experiment designed to “do good in the world, have fun doing good, and be seen to have fun doing do”. A founding member, David Goodfellow, tells Times Life, “It’s about random acts of kindness. Suddenly, being kind is cool again. A man told me how he smiled at 10 people in the London underground; eight smiled back, one was confused and one ignored him. Everyone should try such gestures in their lives.”

The new wave is about feeling good, precious moments to remember. It’s about stopping to tell someone they are important and ask “Can I do anything to make you smile?” It seems happy people are leading the brigade. Says spiritual healer Rohini Singh, “It’s about softening the stresses of daily life. People who are content are always willing to reach out. They also receive a lot of kindness in return.”

In their own little ways, even celebrities are trying to redefine their ‘ego through kindness’. Says actor Dia Mirza. Who often gets together with designer Sanjana Jon for their ‘kindness initiatives’. “I think you have to be genuine about how you want to make a difference through good will gestures.” That’s something that designer Sanjana Jon also agrees with, “It’s about making small, everyday changes. After all, how much can you party or be materialistic.”

Charity isn’t just about cutting a cheque, it’s about doing things which make someone else happy. Says psychiatrist Dr Avdesh Sharma. “When people spontaneously give they feel happier. When you smile at someone without expectation it makes your day. Your emotions change for almost 24 hours and you feel happy.” But shouldn’t kindness be unconditional? Says Ma Maina Osho, “Yes. The giver should feel grateful that his gift has not been refused. Then giving becomes a tremendous ecstasy.”

It’s actually easy to make someone’s day, especially with a smile. Say’s philanthropist Renu Mehta, “Just open the door for somebody, give a compliment – these gestures can make a big difference to your life.” That’s something that Mark Rowan, who lives in Goa does. “Let there be an explosion of kindness. You have to enjoy the process. Put some energy into your goodwill gesture, know what people desire and try to fulfill it for them.” It’s time to get started on the kindness wave!

By Nona Walia, December 20th, 200
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