The energy of kindness

“Do what makes you feel good and it will draw more of that into your life.” (The Secret, Rhonda Byrne)

While I was still doing research for my travels, I came across the book, The kindness of strangers (Lonely Planet Anthology), in the travel section of a bookshop. I paged through the book and read some of the stories, but, due to budget constraints decided not to buy it. The notion that a random stranger’s act of genuine kindness could make such an impact on a person, stuck with me.

My Indian visa application was frought with problems (a whole blog post needs to be dedicated to it), and, created a huge amount of stress for me. So, needless to say, when I finally arrived at the visa application office in Kuala Lumpur, I was relieved to just sit in the queue outside the building and wait for the doors to open. As I was looking through my application forms (to kill time), I realised that I had forgotten to include the address of the hotel in India where I would be staying – a vital bit of information for the application. The address, of course, was in an email, that I had no way of accessing at that very moment, as there was not an internet cafe in sight. I turned to the guy sitting next to me, to ask him if he knew of an internet cafe closeby (because if I did not apply on that day, I might never get my visa in time for my flight to India) – of course there was none. And then, this stranger did the most incredible thing – he simply took his laptop out of his briefcase, turned it on, went online and handed it over to me. I don’t know how you thank someone for such an act of kindness – we did not even exchange names, and I did not see him and his wife after we entered the building – but, I expressed my gratitude as best I could, and will never forget that moment.

When I’m busy, or stressed, or consumed with my own life, selfless acts of kindness are often not at the top of my priority list. I admire people who give so genuinely of themselves without ever expecting anything in return. And, I’ve learnt from them, more than they will probably ever know.

Icing a surprise birthday cake (July 2010, Ithaca, Greece)

I now live in a small community where the focus is on the quality of life and the value of people. People turn up at my door with biscuits, olive oil, lemons, homemade wine and marmalade, flowers for the garden, sealant for the roof, they wave when they pass me in the street, offer me a ride if I’m walking somewhere, or simply ask me how I’m doing. I’m learning about the importance of selfless acts of kindness and I finally understand that “energy flows where attention goes.” If I focus my attention on kindness and love and giving (whether its a smile, my time, or a cup of coffee) – the energy that comes from that is remarkable.

The idea for this post came to me when Babi, the local mechanic, made me a cup of Greek coffee while I was waiting for him to fix my car. I was suddenly struck by the kindness of his gesture. He was overworked, affected by the current economic crisis in Greece and constantly interrupted with phone calls and people stopping by so that he could fix something ‘quickly’. And, here I was, sitting in his ‘waiting room’ reading and he still stopped everything to make me a cup of coffee. Maybe its simply Greek hospitality, but, right now I choose to see the kindness of his act.

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in… love is the only truly rational act.” (Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom) When you’re away from home, and wandering around in the wide world – without much security and no form of income, its the acts of kindness that remind you of the good in the world. Ever since I left South Africa, friends, relatives and recent acquaintances have taken me into their homes, provided me with transport, moral support, travel guidance, meals, many cups of tea, endless emails, skype conversations and text messages. This is a big thank you to all of you – this journey would not have been possible without your kindness.

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6 thoughts on “The energy of kindness

  1. Hello my sister…
    I have been reading your blogs for some time now,however on this particular one i have to send my two cents worth.What you write about ,” the energy kindness”,is great wonder to me.The story you tell though short and to the point,volumes can still be written on it.I am convinced that such love,kindness and thus karma is where we all lost the true sweetness and reason of our lives.We now so self focused it is now a comedy errors towards this elusive happiness.

    We all would like better lives (read as more expensive better cars,houses,clothes etc) but the pursuit of such “better lives” lead to bitterness,emptiness and unfulfilled feelings,…why is it.Surely then such better lives are not real if we have outcomes that lead to a downward spiral….

    Thank you for the post and with every post I am learning,our destination is to be better enlightened.

    • Gerald – thank you for the great comment. I think we are all caught up in the idea that “more is better”. The media tells us that our lives will be better if we have the expensive house/car/clothes. And, we spend all our time and energy working to get the money so that we can buy these things – only to realise that it does not really make us happy – so we think – maybe I will be happier if I have more… and its a vicious cycle that does not stop. Its only when we realise that we have everything within us to make us happy that we can stop chasing this elusive happiness. We forget how little we need to be happy – and just being kind to those around you – starting with your own family – brings the greatest happiness. How incredible is a smile on someone’s face?

  2. Laughter from your heart and soul is a magic perfume that the world cannot resist, the silent words of kind gestures always speak the loudest and will remain as precious seeds in hearts that are ready for growth.

    Observe quietly, the little things in this world and then realize it is a small thing like a breath of air that propels us forward to change, to choose happiness.

    Love your writing May-Ann!

    • Santi – thank you – I always look forward to your words of wisdom, expressed so beautifully. Its the small gestures that make all the difference – and yet, they are sometimes the most difficult – those unrecognised, selfless acts of kindness.

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