Kindness is almost always misunderstood. We often feel that it doesn't pay to be kind in this mean and cruel age. But nothing could be farther from truth. This is just one of the many myths about kindness. On the occasion of World Kindness Day, let's reflect on some of the most widely-held myths about kindness:
Kindness is not a trait of the strong
It is surely not a trait of the weak, the bashful or the timid. "Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution," the great writer-poet Kahlil Gibran had said.
Kindness comes from inner strength, compassion, will power and a strong sense of self. It takes a lot to be kind and not expect any thing in return. You can only help someone, when you are secured and confident in the knowledge that you have aplenty. An act of kindness comes out of a deep sense of contentment with what you have.
To give someone something that is yours—time, money, favours or efforts—is it easy?
"In a culture where the winner is the king, being a kind person is thought to be akin to being a wimp or pushover," says Kristin Tillquist, author of Kindness Capital. But according to her, being kind, co-operative and considerate is the most effective way to make your mark.
No good deed goes unpunished
Aesop, the great Greek fable writer begs to differ. "No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted," he once said.
Even if the person you are kind to may not be grateful to you, your body will definitely thank you. In the book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People, author Professor Stephen Post has found that being kind is good for your health. People who regularly help others have better mental health, lower rates of depression, are less likely to fall ill from chronic disease, and have better immune systems.
"Making kindness one's modus operandi has been scientifically proven to be a good and smart thing to do! Being kind creates wealth and prosperity," says Tillquist.
Research shows that kindness can also make us happier. And it's even better if you learn to be kind in different ways. That's because people who perform different acts of kindness have higher levels of happiness, than those who performed one act repeatedly, says a University of California study.
Still, if you don't want to perform an act of kindness, at least witness one. According to best-selling author Dr Wayne Dyer, kindness extended, received, or observed beneficially impacts the physical health and feelings of everyone involved. Isn't that amazing?
Kindness = Charity
Kindness—as defined in the dictionary—is "the act or the state of being kind and marked by charitable behaviour, marked by mild disposition, pleasantness, tenderness and concern for others." This means that charitable behaviour is an act of kindness. Not kindness itself.
Kindness is much more than just charity—it is anything you do or act out of will to help the other, not just in terms of money.
Leaving a thank you note, allowing a person in a queue, smiling at someone, spending time with the ill and old, holding the lift for someone, saying a kind word, lending a listening ear, paying an honest compliment are all acts of kindness.
Kind people are difficult to find these days
Really? What about strangers who offer you a seat in a bus or train? Or the guy who not only gives you directions, but sometimes accompanies you to your destination? And the colleague who accommodates you when you submit your documents late?
We all experience such forms of kindness every day, but just fail to identify them as 'kind' acts.
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