This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of Provoke Lifestyle Magazine.
We call many things in life a ‘two-way street’. As humans, it is in our DNA to expect that if we give, we must in turn receive. The phrase ‘what’s in it for me?’ sometimes come out easier than hello; it depicts the human mind along with its varying complexities. So, this phrase is not only applied to relationships as it very often is, but also to any act of giving where something is expected in return. Very rarely do you find an act of giving going unaccompanied without some form of receiving, except where family and close friends are involved. Here is the difference between a selfish act of giving and a selfless act of giving which I like to call ‘kindness’.
Kindness means different things to different people but I think we can all agree that it is good for the soul. I have always believed that kindness starts with yourself. The true meaning of being kind to someone else is lost somewhere along the way when we are unable to first be kind to ourselves. In today’s cut throat world filled with competition and pressure from all sides, kindness rarely exists. As a mother, when I think about the kind of world I want my children to grow up in, I visualize a world where they are surrounded by love, happiness, empathy, equality and most importantly kindness. Everything else comes second.
Kindness creates magic. It creates love.
If there is one thing I want my children to be defined as, it is kind. It has a power like no other to make a difference to someone’s day. Whether it is your child helping an elderly person cross the road or even helping a friend with his/her class work, any small act of random or intentional act of kindness can go a long way in making a positive difference. It is rooted in empathy and plays a big role in encouraging children to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and practice acceptance.
The Kindness Project
Founded in Chennai by certified Expressive Art Therapy practitioner and mom to two girls Mahima Poddar, is a reassurance to us all that there is hope. The initiative targets the personal growth of people and children of all ages and aims to bring about social change by addressing kindness and empathy. Kindness Week which took place from February 19-24 was a project conceptualized and implemented by Mahima with a very crucial goal of triggering a revolution of kindness. She gathered various brands across Chennai to help bring some light into the lives of underprivileged kids. Some of the vendors from the city who were a part of this project were Sathyam Cinemas, Funky Monkeys, Spin Dance Studio, Combat Kinetics, Natural Enabled Salons and Paint-Me-Happy Pottery Studio. Leading schools in Chennai like Akshar Arbol and aLphabet who have adopted the Kindness Badge Program, put in their heart and soul as well and are now “kind campuses”.
Children were responsible for handing out kindness badges to other children when they noticed random acts of kindness. They were also able to make a difference by donating old crayons to special needs kids. The beneficiaries of these crayons were ARVI Trust & Om Muruga School. Books for children up to Grade 5 were donated to Shabnam Resource Centre, an organization which focuses on children without educational opportunities by helping set up book shelves and skill development centres. The Kindness Stars campaign, another brainchild of Mahima’s as part of Kindness Week, shifted the focus from “doing kind acts and feeling good about yourself” alone to “observing kindness in others.” People were requested to comment with something kind that another person had done for them and tag them as a #KindnessStar. Writer’s Café participated by offering a scoop of ice cream to randomly picked #KindStars from amongst the comments. This was a way to encourage people to recognize and acknowledge kind acts by others.
With a vision to make kindness a part of daily life, Mahima very rightly says, “Children find kindness anywhere, in anyone and the littlest of things! So, let us encourage them to encourage the world to be kind”.
I always say that the best things in life are free, and kindness is one of them.