I recently started watching The Kindness Diaries series on Netflix. It is extremely inspiring to see an Englishman, Leon Logothetis, who left his job as a broker to travel around the world without a penny in his pocket, relying on the kindness of people for gas, food and a place to stay for the night. The basis of the show is to seek out kindness in others, all the while seeking opportunities to give kindness back. Random acts of kindness are repaid in unexpected and life-changing gifts. Logothetis states, “Receiving kindness provides a humble reminder that sometimes the greatest act of generosity is not about giving when you have a lot. It is about giving when you have so very little for yourself.” 

Leon travels around with a camera crew and when they meet someone who they think is very special, who they believe can make great changes in the world, they give back to them. In the episodes I’ve watched, Leon has sent couple Willy and Shari to London to see their son get married. They are an extremely generous couple who live in Colorado. While staying with Willy and Shari, Leon learns that they have a strong faith and belief in kindness themselves. They help others, including their 96-year old friend, Kay, who tells Leon that Willy and Shari’s help and friendship make her, “feel like a part of the human race and not just an old piece of baggage.” Leon is touched by their generous and humble natures and gives back to them by paying for their travel to see their son’s wedding.

In another episode Leon is walking through a park in Pittsburgh where he meets Tony who reveals to Leon that he would invite him to stay with him at his home if he had a home. Tony is homeless and Leon ends up staying with him on the street where Tony gives him clean underwear and other clothing, proving that even though he has very little he wants to share and be kind. The next day Leon tells Tony that they are going to pay for him to find a home, as well as to go to culinary school and get an education, changing Tony’s life forever.

Other episodes include Leon giving two African musicians living in Spain the opportunity to put together a music video so they can sell their music and support their families and a fencing instructor in Italy is given a gift of fencing lessons to a promising Olympic athlete who was forced to stop training due to his father’s death. Logothetis says, “Experiencing the kind of joy of doing something special for someone else gives me the same kind of joy as a child who has received a new toy.”

Why be kind to others? Some believe in the pay-it-forward concept. Logothetis asks one of his benevolent givers why they chose to be kind to him and their response was, “If you pay some kindness forward to someone else, it stays in your account. And you can trust that when you need it, it will be there for you.”

Others believe we should be kind because putting others needs before your own can transform your life. They believe there is a direct correlation to one’s happiness and one’s kindness. The kinder you are to people, the happier you are. According to www.kindness.org, who commissioned Oxford University to answer the question, “Does being kind boost the happiness of the person doing the act of kindness?”, they found that being kind genuinely does boost your happiness.[1]

Kindness.org shares this practical advice for being kind:

  1. Practice being kind – kindness is a verb, it requires action. It doesn’t usually come naturally and requires an intentional effort.
  2. Develop a kind attitude – take control of your attitude and focus on being kind.
  3. Learn to speak kindly – our words are powerful. Use them to be uplifting and positive with others.
  4. Practice kind deeds – be helpful and courteous to others, allowing them grace and compassion.

Finally, kindness is about expecting nothing while appreciating everything. Being kind to others is a state of mind with no expectations, focusing wholly on what we can do to help others and not what we are going to receive from the exercise, and then responding with thankfulness for the opportunity to be kind.

We hope that you find much kindness in 2019!

[1] https://medium.com/kindlab/does-kindness-create-happiness-19126c5883ff