Compassion and kindness are powerful weapons of mass construction. They build bridges of peace, erect towers of hope and construct a world of joy and cooperation. If there were enough compassionate people, most suffering could be eliminated from our world. Sadly, most of us are only sympathetic, not compassionate. And there is a difference.
When we sympathise, we see someone suffering, feel sad for the sufferer, but do nothing about it. When we're compassionate, we see someone suffering, feel sad for the sufferer, and then do what it takes to alleviate the suffering that evoked our sympathy.
I have always been fascinated by the impact of kindness and compassion on individuals and the society. In The Power of Intention, Dr Wayne Dyer writes, "Research has shown that a simple act of kindness directed towards another improves the functioning of the immune system and stimulates the production of serotonin in both the recipient of kindness and the person extending kindness. Even more amazing is that persons observing the act of kindness have similar beneficial results. Imagine this! Kindness extended, received or observed beneficially impacts the physical health and feeling of everyone involved."
Several scientific studies have proved beyond doubt that compassion and kindness lead to direct medical benefits. For instance, truly compassionate people have shown a 100 per cent increase in DHEA, a hormone that counteracts the aging process, and 23 per cent less cortisol, also known as the "stress hormone". It can also reduce the awareness and intensity of physical pain. Emotionally, it provides the individual with a sense of wellbeing and joyfulness.
The best part about kindness is that it's not just about donating money or being charitable. Kindness can take any form. For example, "donating" your time, by spending it with terminally-ill kids or elders in the old-age homes, is also classified as kindness.
The week of February 11-18, will be observed as "Random Acts of Kindness Week". The day is promoted by The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, a resource for people committed to spreading kindness. I reckon it's a good occasion to participate in the World Kindness Movement, a global network comprising several nations that have come together to build a kinder world. Let us pledge to be kind and let's start by indulging in random acts of kindness. Let's spread the word, and tell our friends and family too about the positive impact of kindness. Let's reach out to those who need us. Let's do it in the spirit of compassion. Let's unleash the power of kindness and make this world a better place to live in.
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