The author is Anil Kumar Reddy, Co-founder and CEO, Donatekart.com. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.What started as a virus-induced respiratory illness in 2020 to later being labeled as a pandemic, COVID-19 continues to have a huge impact on the human race. Scan the news on television channels or read about world developments, and it is easy to conclude that we are living in divisive times. However, the 2021 Padma Awards showed us how unconditional acts of giving and being kind to others can make survival easier. The Awards saw several individuals like Tulsi Gowda and Harekala Hajabba receive recognition for their contribution to the environment, education, arts, and more. The appreciation of these everyday heroes opened our eyes to one simple fact of life—just as quickly bad behavior tends to spread, good behavior does too and turns out kindness is contagious.COVID-19, A CATALYST FOR SPREADING KINDNESSIn March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, we saw visuals of people coming out to sing in their balconies in Italy or light a Diya in their homes in India, along with setting up networks to support the elderly. We saw kindness spread all over the world and it was a lesson in humanity—amid fear, if there is community support and hope, the human race will survive the most challenging tragedies.
Globally, countries have witnessed acts of kindness that have helped them emerge through the crisis. The biggest example would be the Quad countries pledging to donate more than 1.2 billion COVID-19 vaccines—extending a helping hand to the less-privileged, low-income countries of the world.
KINDNESS IN THE AGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
The rapid advancement in technology has also ensured human connections are intact despite severe isolation measures. Virtual networking, crowd-funding campaigns and seeking support for at-risk neighbours using the power of social media—acts of kindness are finally having a viral moment of their own.
KINDNESS AND SCIENCE
Recognizing that we are all in need of some light at the end of the tunnel, kindness scientist Dr David R. Hamilton says kindness is contagious too. Acts of kindness can help humans stay sane in times of crisis. An act of kindness elevates the levels of dopamine in the brain, making the giver ‘happier’. This is often referred to as the helper’s high. The emotional warmth generated from the act of kindness increases the levels of oxytocin in the body, leading to improved blood circulation. Kindness also slows ageing by reducing inflammation and levels of free radicals. The bottom line is: it can be a great way to improve our relationships with fellow humans.
KINDNESS DOESN’T END WITH THE END OF A CRISIS
India (and the world) continues to deal with the aftermath of the devastating second wave of COVID-19, even as we brace for the impending third wave. While we have overcome the ‘peak’ of the pandemic as of now, the desire to give/donate remains strong among many of us. Crowd-funding platforms continue to register donations for different causes across the country, proving that the urge to lend a helping hand was not just momentary.
Globally, corporates are also realizing the importance of kindness and its role in brand building. Leaders now believe that the key to successful customer retention is kindness. A customer’s encounter with the brand is mostly personal, and the only way this can be made memorable is through an act of kindness. Even within teams, leaders are focused on promoting kindness and leading by example. Appreciating the team’s hard work, complimenting good performance and constantly motivating team members are some of the ways in which companies are promoting a culture of kindness.
India Inc. is leveraging this to reconnect and engage better with their stakeholders, employees and customers and shrug off the pandemic blues. Now more than ever, the world has seen the importance of people coming together to make a difference. And this trend will only grow in the decades to come. Kindness is here to stay.