The overwhelming deluge of devastating news, lost lives, disrupted routines, and unending uncertainty makes it easy to give in to the negativity. But this is a reminder for the readers to help their loved ones, send some positive vibes, and not give up. No matter how much suffering we witness, only kindness holds the key to restoring the loss. Kindness during the pandemic transcends as a mere virtue, it can heal the global economy.
What do we gain when we give?
In one of the studies at the University of California, Berkeley, the researchers found that about half of the participants reported feeling stronger and more energetic after helping others while many others reported feeling calmer, less depressed, and claimed to have an increased sense of self-worth (see here). This feeling was also compared with the literal drug-induced “high”. The simple act of making a small financial donation triggers the reward center in our brains that leads us to experience dopamine-mediated euphoria. Science has also found that kind people have 23% less cortisol (stress hormone) in their bodies. In general, a Harvard Business School survey conducted across 136 countries has found that kind people were the happiest (see here). Hence the experimental studies have persistently taught us that kindness towards others causes us to be happier, enriches, and lengthens our lives.
So, a small step to be kinder to the people scarred by pandemics will be a significant step to heal oneself. How do we practice mindful kindness?
Register your Domestic Help for Vaccination
It highly likely that our domestic help is either is technologically challenged or does not have access to the internet. Offer to register them for vaccination on the government portal. This will expedite the vaccination process and also help the people who are disproportionately shouldering a higher burden of the pandemic.
Lend a Helping Hand to Feed People
The pandemic-induced mobility restrictions might leave the elderly and isolated people unable to fetch groceries. Offer them help. We don’t need to pay for their groceries, but if one is heading out to buy it, then simply offer to buy it for them too. If we hear about the unfortunate demise in our social circle and are unable to pay them respects, then send them food.
Check-in on people
Make a deliberate effort to reach out to your friends, family, and colleagues. Keep checking in and asking them if they are doing okay and if they need help. Better still, organise group calls to encourage social interaction.
Bring joy in other’s lives
In India, a beedi worker from Kerala donated Rs 2 lakh to the covid relief fund. This was his entire life savings. He had Rs 850 left in his bank after the donation. While the bank staff showed skepticism on his withdrawal, the man smiled and told the staff that while he is still able to roll beedis and is entitled to a disability pension, his countrymen are dying. They needed financial help more (see here).
This man is a stellar example of selflessness. However, there are other ways to help too, ways that will not dig a deep hole in our pockets. For instance, residents in Australia are painting rainbows and etching messages like “we are all in this together” and “SMILE” on the sidewalks. Italians are singing and playing the guitar and singing on their rooftops to engage the neighbourhood and to boost morale.
Understand that these are tough times when people need support and crave company. Be the reason for their smile today. Let’s find our talent and channel it accordingly. Or simply, let's salute our fellow mask-wearers on the street and make them feel appreciated for following the protocols.
If possible, then try to support the local businesses. If we are worried about stepping out and buying groceries and are thinking of getting them delivered online, then let’s pause for a second. If feasible, ring out a local vendor/ vegetable seller and ask them if they can deliver it instead. Try not to haggle with them, let them earn that extra Rs 20. It will help them stay fed. They need it more than us.
A positive takeaway from this raging pandemic is that “we are all in this together” (credit: Australian residents) even if we are forced to be apart. Practicing mindful kindness by investing in each other’s and one’s well-being will help us heal and overcome the crisis on a positive note.
(Payal Seth is a consultant at Tata-Cornell Institute, Cornell University, and is a Ph.D. Scholar at Bennett University.)
 Idea credit: Abhishek Ananth