“Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.”
– Leo Tolstoy.
The popular perception that success leads to happiness is counterintuitive. It is a happy and content mind that steers success. What has always been known has now been proven by Science – sharing with others, rather than amassing more and more for oneself, brings about lasting well-being. Colleges such as Harvard are now stressing on kindness as a factor on applications for admission.
What is kindness? It is commonly understood as being friendly, affectionate, gentle, generous and concerned. Most importantly, it is being considerate to the needs of those around you.
Happiness researchers have successfully demonstrated that carrying out random acts of kindness for just two minutes a day for twenty-one days can rewire your brain to being more positive. Many similar studies have shown that a positive state of mind fosters creativity, intelligence and productivity. The upshot therefore, is that it improves our quality of life by enhancing success at work and helps form healthy relationships while building better health.
Moving to a nuclear family format from large joint families has meant a lack of connection with close family members to interact with on a daily basis. Long work hours for adults and a hectic academic schedule for children leaves only a miniscule amount of time for parent-child interaction. This has triggered a host of issues such as feelings of isolation, sadness and depression.
Case in point is this little heart-warming incident I read about recently, that shows how a little can go a long way in matters of kindness and how goodness still exists and shows itself, in the most unexpected places and times.
A depressed man called a pasta company for help instead of reaching out to a depression crisis line. Whether it was an accident or an act of desperation or a thought-out act is unclear; however, the outcome was something we wouldn’t expect.
The man reached out to the company via chat message. He expressed that he was depressed and looking for someone to talk to. The company representative known as Sarah, apologised and told the man that she could only discuss the product, as it was a professional line.
Instead of talking about his concerns overtly, he came up with an analogy to pasta and wrote a description of his terrible lasagne making process, an accurate allegory for his struggle with depression.
“ So say I was a lasagne with meat sauce, but instead of cooking the way I was supposed to, I was stretched too thin with too many responsibilities and I was unable to do everything well. So instead of any part of me cooking correctly, I just ended up messing up & baking poorly in every part of the pan….”
Depression can be hugely isolating. Reaching out for help can seem debilitating to sufferers, making them very lonely. Sarah’s response was amazing. Instead of pointing the man elsewhere, she offered him advice, which could be applied to depression too. She pointed out that mistakes can always be fixed, and encouraged him to try again without giving up. The man, unconvinced, asked how many times before the lasagne was past saving. Sarah responded with a truly heartening message. “You would be surprised how resilient noodles can be.”
Regardless of the situation, most times, people are only seeking a kind word; a gentle nudge out of a state of despair. So remember to lend an ear when someone wants to talk. Be someone who is always willing to listen; to help. Connect with those around you. It does not take a lot of time to share simple thoughts such as ‘I love you’ or ‘I appreciate you’. Random texts, notes and words that may not take a lot of effort on your part, can truly change another person’s day.
Make kindness a way of life and most importantly, be kind to yourself.