Starting January, every fourth Wednesday will see a guest editor take charge of the Digest. Community member Sancharita writes this one.
Celebrate it or not. We all know what falls on the 14th of February. But what follows just three days after? Allow me to introduce Random Acts of Kindness Day, aka RAK; celebrated on the 17th of February every year since 1995. Coincidence? Maybe. However, RAK after Valentine’s makes complete sense to me. Hi! I am Sancharita.
While falling in love can be easy, what truly makes it work is kindness and compassion. And when you add the word ‘random’ to the mix, it makes it all that more wonderful.
According to the dictionary, the word random means ‘by chance rather than according to a plan’. Therefore, a RAK would be a kind act planned or unplanned directed towards strangers without any expectation of reciprocation. That stranger could be people, plants, animals, and just about anyone.
Wise men say such acts create a butterfly effect. Imagine then the possibility of all our collective RAK’s sending out ripples of compassion and lighting up the deepest darkest corners of this world. Brings a smile, does it not? The men and women of science also endorse the many benefits of RAKs. Being kind gives you the famous Helper’s High, which results from the brain releasing serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin — happy and calming hormones.
Ergo, in being kind to others, we are being kind to ourselves. Helping others boosts confidence, happiness and calmness. I have experienced it every time I did a RAK.
On Diwali, it struck me that we spend an unnecessary amount on sweets, flowers, and decorations. If spent differently, most of it can light up a few smiles. So, we stuck to just a few humble clay diyas and marigolds and used the rest to stock up our car with fruits. Later, we drove around distributing those fruits. That evening, when the lights in the neighbourhood houses went up, in my heart, I felt the warmth from the lights shining bright in homes far beyond our four walls.
It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day. Sharing a hot cup of tea with your security guard, helping your house help’s daughter find a job, feeding a stray, leaving an extra tip for the hardworking server… Life gives us innumerable opportunities every day to make a difference. You can even pick an idea from the Black Lotus App that lists out many such occasions to help us sprinkle kindness freely. And here’s a thread to stay motivated with the kindest and most truthful community.
But if you want to really take it up many notches higher, read and re-read The Book of Kindness by Swamiji (Spiritual Leader Om Swami). In this book, he offers a step-by-step guide to cultivating and practising kindness. He also provides real incidents, evidence-based science and international research findings to bring home the point: Kindness helps you evolve like no other spiritual practice does. You can watch him read excerpts from the book here, here and here.
Another of my favourite kindness quotes is from the man who is kindness incarnate — Nelson Mandela. How else do you explain him being forgiving, loving and compassionate after 27 years of wrongful imprisonment? He said: I believe that in the end, it is kindness and generous accommodation that are the catalysts for real change.
Quote for the Week
Speaking of quotes, here’s a good reminder from Charles Glassman about why you should be kind to one and all: Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.
And now for some inspiration from our os.me members. But before we get there, did you know you could become a member too and write on this platform? You can share your experiences, leave comments, interact and earn Karma points. If you’re not a member already; I’ll see you on the inside…
Kindness is Contagious: Shalini shares with us through this post an incident sure to bring a smile to your face. After all, what can be more heart-warming than children growing up with compassion and practising it, too. Makes me optimistic that our world will be in safe, loving hands. Much love to your daughter, Shalini.
4 Ways to Stop Putting So Much Pressure on Yourself: Amardeep S Parmar risked his life to finish writing an email that could wait. Sometimes we put ourselves under crippling pressure. I love this post, for we all need to be much kinder to ourselves. He gives us at least four ways to be so.
Poverty and I: Mohit Aggarwal is enjoying a meal with his friend when an elderly man makes a request. It makes him ponder: What did that man do to be in that position, and what did Mohit do to be on the other side? While we might never figure out the exact answer, it is our random acts of kindness that make the world bearable for all.
Don’t Reward Your Good Work: Celebrating success is fun. But Rajesh Kumar Ragothaman makes a strong point when he says it is when people are at their lowest when they need our love and care. Mistakes happen all the time. Be kind to everyone and cheer them up when they haven’t been able to do their best.
Do it for Others and Then Ask for Yourself: When Preetam asked his schoolmate for help, he didn’t immediately get it. Later, the same schoolmate asked Preetam for help. Instead of reciprocating in the same way, Preetam chose to put himself in the schoolmate’s shoes and let go of the past. Our young blogger teaches us that other people’s behaviour shouldn’t affect our kind acts because it is about us, not them.
Kindness: Gauri shares with us this beautiful RAK story of how she was able to raise substantial funds for the bone marrow transplant of a 10-year-old boy. Thank you for sharing this excellent example of kindness Gauri. You inspire us!
Is Being Kind a Privilege?: While we’re on Kindness, I think it’s important to mention that we first need to be kind to ourselves before extending it to life around us. Shivani Kohli touches upon this very relevant perspective that should encourage us to make a fair judgment before extending help and, if for some reason we can’t contribute, to know that it’s absolutely ok to respectfully pray well and walk away.
I Am what I Am: Most of the time, we don’t love people; we love our idea of them. However, to love is to accept. And accepting others is the purest form of kindness. Ravi Gulati makes a point.
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Wisdom from Swamiji
Being Compassionate: A compassionate heart leads to greater mental strength. Spiritual leader Om Swami shares a powerful practice to help gain inner strength, to purify yourself, to help you transform yourself emotionally and mentally, so you may become the person you have always wanted to be. Read it. It will make all the difference.
Kindness Matters: Kindness is not charity. If anything, it’s sincerity. Here’s an old article by spiritual leader Om Swami to make you think.
So what’s the wait? Let’s take the bait of RAK day and celebrate it all through the month! I propose we celebrate the rest of the month as the month of Random Acts of Kindness. Are you with me? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section about any RAKs you received or carried out and how did that make you feel?
PS: Our community member Marie Simon is going through a tough time. May we request you to extend support to her through your kind words on her post.