Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible – Dalai Lama
Our strongest memories growing up are connected to how we felt around people. Think back to your primary school years and I guarantee your main memories are from someone either encouraging you or discouraging you. Building you up or tearing you down.
I can remember one specific teacher calling me stupid, and another encouraging me to be better. The second one, I could sense that he could see more in me than what I was displaying at the time. They are essentially the only two things that I remember from those years. A discouraging word from one and a generous act from another.
I am amazed by the teacher who encouraged me, because in the years that have passed since, I have noticed that it is so much easier to discourage. We almost have an in-built ability to tear someone down. But to lift someone up? Well that can be so rare that appears super-human. It doesn’t need to be this way though.
There is a movement to bring us back to one of the fundamental elements of being a person. Kindness. I would call in generosity. There is even a Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) week this month. With a RAK day on February 17.
Why? Because we need it. The people around you are crying out for some encouragement, a kind word, a thoughtful gesture, a hand of friendship.
Also, it is so good for us. Being kind and generous makes our life so much better; science tells us this.
RAK day is an amazing idea. Sprinkling kindness and generosity on people as you go about your day is a great habit to form. It’s really simple to, there are RAK suggestions, from planting a tree, to writing positive sticky notes, complimenting someone on their parking skills or sending an encouraging email. It starts with one act on a particular day, but it can make a significant difference to those around us.
I get the sense we could all use some more kindness in our lives.
Somewhere along the lines we decided that if we got something in return for being generous, then that wasn’t okay. For some reason it was thought that for an act to be a good thing to do then we should receive no benefit from it at all.
It’s an interesting thought and has led to hundreds of years of miserable generosity. So many people have been missing out experiencing the joy of giving purely because they thought it was wrong. There is a danger though. A danger of only doing a good thing for a completely selfish reason without concern for others at all. I think we can all admit that that behaviour feels wrong and we should probably avoid it.
In saying that, I consider some things too important to care about whether people are doing it for the right reason. Like ending poverty for example. Australia lives in amongst some of the poorest countries, they are our neighbours. Why should we care?
Well, here are two selfish reasons from Bill Gates:
- For Our Safety
It is to our benefit to see developing countries improve their income which improves education. Education equals stability, and less reason for radical idealisation and terrorism.
Also, and this is a big one, if we can overcome poverty in developing countries this will lead to improved healthcare and less disease because they will be able to diagnose and treat diseases more effectively (did someone say Coronavirus?). If we can equip all countries with the best medical care, it will literally save our lives down the track.
2. For Our Prosperity
This should be a no-brainer for us, living in a capitalist society and all. If we have more countries overcoming poverty, creating extra income, then all of a sudden we have hundreds of millions of new potential customers for our products. In short, history shows us that a richer Japan equals a richer world. What about a richer Indonesia, or India, or Pakistan? We are leaving money on the table.
There are other non-selfish reasons as well, but surely these two are pretty significant by themselves.