Every family has some traditions, some values that pass from generation to generation. These values become an integral part of our lives and the bond we share with our families. One such value that I have been blessed to receive from my family, specifically more from my mother is the value of kindness.
I have high regards for my mother for the kind of person she is – the most compassionate, giving & the kindest lady I have ever come across. All my childhood I have seen her spending her weekends in villages neighboring our town. She is nearing 60 and this still continues. She would go to a village, gather all kids – the day begins with her trimming the nails of all those kids. Teaching them about good habits like trimming hair n nails, bathing daily, washing hands etc. Sometimes she will take a doctor along & get a free medical check-up for all women & young children there, sometimes she will ask a teacher to come along & do a literacy session for everyone. Once a month she along with her friends would cook food for a whole village, make food packets & carry them along to distribute a healthy meal to needy. The list of her acts of kindness is actually endless.
I, as a kid, was watching her but was never a part of this “Being Kind” to others trait of hers. I precisely remember when it hit me hard that there is so much misery in this world & it takes nothing to bring a smile to someone’s face. I was around 16 or 17 years of age & it was a week before the festival of Rakshabandhan that she asked me if I would want to accompany her somewhere on the afternoon of Rakshabandhan? She had been visiting a Juvenile boys jail in the district for quite some time to provide basic amenities & some love & support to the children there. She asked me if I would want to tie Rakhis to those kids as it might make them feel really good having a special visitor on the day. I asked few of my friends to accompany me and that day, that visit somehow changed something in me.
I realized that It doesn’t take much to bring smile & happiness to someone – just some acts of kindness. Initially, it took some deliberate attempt to make sure I do something kind to someone known or unknown that would make not just them feel happy but would give pleasure & satisfaction to me as well. But later it started to come naturally to me – just like it comes naturally to me.
Sometimes my friends mean it as a complain when they say that “Shalu probably would keep her own work & priorities aside to help someone in need.” Well, I take pride in this fact. There is nothing I am loosing anyways if I manage well. And now that I have a responsibility to be a role model for my daughters, just like my mom was a great positive influence in my life, I make sure I try and pass this value to them as well.
Now when I follow the footsteps of my mom & try to pass on some happiness to someone, I make sure I start making my daughters accompany me early on in life so that they can catch this beautiful infectious value as soon in life as they can.
The Concept of “The Happiness Jar“
There was a phase in my life, after my kids were both, that I was almost on a house arrest. The only times I was moving out of the house was either for vaccination of kids or taking them for a pediatrician visit or something else unavoidable. Forget about becoming a reason for someone else’s smile, I had forgotten to smile myself. I needed something to remind me that life is awesome & happiness comes easy. I read about the concept of Happiness Jar & tried to modify it as per my need & started implementing it.
So here is what I did. Every time I did an act of kindness, I noted it down on a piece of paper & put the paper in a jar. Initially, it was not easy to think of random acts of kindness in the circumstances I was in, but a little deliberate attempt made it easy. Here are few things I did back then.
- I started to write handwritten noted to other moms who I knew either personally or through social media who I know just like me were struggling with parenting, letting them know they were doing a great job.
- I saw a lot of moms struggling with the stigma of formula feeding, and I being one of them had suffered a lot. I created India’s first Facebook Support group for Formula Feeding Mothers. I started being a regular there and answer all queries that moms had about formula feeding, bottles, sterilization etc.
- I became a part of a twin mommy community and actively started to help other moms who were in the phase I had already passed with their queries.
- I started some online campaigns for children in need of medical attention, connecting their families to NGOs and individuals with the capacity to help.
Every time I did something that I could have easily done sitting at home, I started to note it down & put it in the jar. Now every time I feel a little low or feel like life is being tough on me, I open the jar, take few chits out & read them. It reminds me of the happy times I had experiences just because I was able to make a known person or a stranger happy. After having been maintaining a Happiness jar for almost 2 years now (I started on 1st Jan 2016) I realize how simple yet how powerful this method is.
To create your own Happiness Jar, I have collaborated with We Are Real Moms to bring this printable to you where you can record your Random Acts of Kindness, tear the relevant portion and store it in your Happiness Jar. This can be printed on an A4 sheet.
Click here to download the watermark-free high-resolution Happiness Jar Printable –> http://bit.ly/HappinessJar-