Small acts of kindness- whats in it for you?
I have recently come across two significant days which i was only vaguely aware of in the past. September 21st is peace one day- a day of global'cease fire and non-violence' (god knows we need more of them). Today of course is kindness UK day, and we need more of these too. Of course it helps to have specific days to raise awareness and embrace these values but what happens when we incorporate them into every day activities?
There can be no doubt that acts of kindness, no matter how big or small, have a significantly positive effect on the receiver (if they allow themselves to receive), and on the giver (if they allow themselves to give unconditionally). Acts of kindness often lead to reciprocity, and a virtuous circle which benefits us all.
On a personal level it has taken me years to learn the real value of reciprocity and that the consequences do not necessarily need to be direct, proportional or even necessarily related. Unfortunately many people tend to view the world through a prism of scarcity rather than abundance. They see goodwill and generosity as scarce resources to be used selectively and carefully and sometimes only when they perceive personal advantage.
I have witnessed many times in the business world, that those people who manage to turn this logic around and build generosity and good deeds into their daily lives often experience a more abundant life, and not just in a material sense. They tend to benefit from more business referrals, reciprocity and goodwill. Significantly, they seem to radiate positive energy, enjoy life more and thrive where others are intent on survival. I quote the words of the Internet entrepreneur and philanthropist, Nipun Mehta to underline the point.
'Each of us has gifts, material resources, connections, presence and when we start to use our gifts as tools to facilitate giving, we deepen our understanding. The ability to give stems from a state of mind and heart..if you break the tiresome tyranny of "what's in it for me" the mind-set shifts from consumption to contribution. You are no longer operating from a place of scarcity, your cup fills and overflows'
I believe that most of us have a strong desire to give and for those of us operating in an increasingly competitive business world, the need becomes more urgent, from the head, heart and soul. This helps to explain the proliferation of personal and corporate charity initiatives ranging from insanely long cycle rides to sleeping rough to raise money for the homeless. If more people could extend this kindness to everyday acts of kindness, no matter how big or small then we will all be better off for it.
Learning to give, and to receive with grace is a lifelong endeavour and for me, learning not to judge or make assumptions about others is part of the challenge. We live in a highly imperfect AND interconnected world and when you stop to consider that the richest 38 individuals have a combined wealth which is greater than the combined 500 million poorest, you will see that there is much to be done. My daughter once gave all of her savings (£100) to an amazing charity for Malawian orphans (www.fomoe.org). For all of the right and some of the wrong reasons I tried to dissuade her. On refection, I think she was right..