“A random act of kindness, no matter how small, can make a tremendous impact on someone else’s life,” wrote Roy T Bennett in his book The Light in the Heart. This thought is also the underlying theme of the film Pay it Forward. In the film, a little boy triggers a chain reaction of kindness in his neighbourhood as part of a class assignment. He asks recipients of kindness to, in turn, participate in three random acts of kindness instead of returning the favour. In the end, their kindness creates a ripple effect of happiness, and the boy’s neighbourhood becomes more close-knit.
Many of us strive to be kind and compassionate. But do we understand what kindness truly means? Most of the time, we limit kindness to an act of charity. When asked to recall an incident of kindness, marketing professional Balaji Subramanian instantly remembered a homeless person who often lingers around a tea stall near his workplace. “He is an old man–frail and skinny. Whenever I see him, I usually give him some money, buy him a packet of biscuits and a cup of tea,” he says. Not that it is wrong, but kindness is much more than charity. As Plato once put it: “Kindness is more than deeds. It’s an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is anything that lifts a person.”
Kindness needn’t cost a dime. Sometimes, just sparing our time for someone could be an act of kindness. For instance, Sai Siddharth, a first-year college student, likes spending time with his grandmother because it makes her happy. “Mom and dad are busy with work from dawn to dusk. And I know my grandma feels bored, being left all alone at home. So, my sister and I spend time with her so that she doesn’t feel lonely,” he says.
Little acts of kindness can benefit both the giver and the receiver.
Easy to understand and practice, self-kindness involves accepting ourselves for what we are, with all our inherent flaws.