Kindness- a big word. Everyone talks about it these days (sometimes in a preachy sort of way!). But what does it mean?
My mother recently cooked chettinad chicken for me when I visited her after months – no grudges about not visiting her for a long time, just happiness at seeing me and wanting to make me satiated with food and love. Is that kindness?
My son gave me a little kiss and a big hug when I told him that my laptop had crashed and I was stressed about my data. Is that kindness?
A few years back, I delayed my salary payments to a few employees due to an unforeseen emergency. I told them about my situation and they didn’t complain- Infant they agreed to support me by delivering more work to help me overcome my cash flow crunch. Is this kindness?
Well, the more I delve into this, I realise how complicated kindness looks but how simple it really is. I hate to deconstruct it and make it too ‘rational’. After all, it is a feeling that prints an act and feelings are best left alone to be felt and not dissected. But I will allow my logical brain to take over for a while and find some common threads that allow kindness to emerge –
- Empathy – a genuine ability and desire to view a situation from the position of the other person. My mother did that – she empathised with my busyness and it allowed kindness to emerge.
- Concern – the ability to understand and care for a person or a group of people. My son felt it for me and did whatever best he could to help me feel better, and it allowed for kindness to emerge.
- Trust- the ability to leave behind a bit of rationality and let the gut take over when analyzing a situation or a person. My team did this for me and it allowed kindness to emerge.
Kindness needs no hierarchy or authority for it to emerge. You need nothing – no position of power or superiority to be kind. A beggar can be kind – infinitely more than the richest. It needs no skill or practice – a dog can be kind; a toddler can be kind. It really is a state of being. Kindness cannot be measured or judged – it’s flowing – cannot be contained for measurement.
But most importantly, kindness is contagious. The more you receive it, the more you spread it. On days that I experience kindness from my kids, my team, my neighbor in the metro – those days I am kinder.