Of late, it seems like everyone wants to determine the exact formula for happiness. In this world of instant feedback and conspicuous consumption, humans crave happiness and peace, and when we don’t get it, due to whatever reasons, we feel disheartened. And then there is the paradoxical trend – to make do with less, which is reflective of the realization that amassing possessions won’t bring us lasting happiness. Somewhere one also receives messages that to feel happy, one should focus on one’s own wishes and desires. Yet this is not the advice that many people grew up hearing. Even Charles Darwin, who taught us about the survival of the fittest, who studied human evolution, didn’t really see mankind as being biologically competitive and self-interested. He believed that we are a profoundly social and caring species and argued that sympathy and caring for others is instinctual. (DiSalvo, Scientific American, 2017) Most world religions too have long stated that people should focus on others first and themselves second.
Today science corroborates devoting resources to others, rather than having more and more for yourself, brings about lasting well-being. Recent studies suggest that giving makes us even happier than spending on ourselves. So there seems to be a ‘positive feedback loop’ between kindness and happiness – one encourages the other, a cycle that promotes lasting happiness and altruism where the love spreads both ways. It’s a win-win situation.
And what exactly happens in the body when you help someone out? The physical benefits of kindness include increased serotonin (or the happiness hormone), reduced stress and anxiety, and an increase in oxytocin which can reduce inflammation.
Every day throws up opportunities to do something beautiful for someone. A kind act, statement or behavior that is simply about intentionally doing something nice that impacts our family, friends, others, our community, the environment, and the world in a positive way, matters. And when we write down the nice things we do, we are likely to become more aware of doing nice things for others. And the more we practice, the better we get at it. And thus we realize that happiness is not a destination but a practice that is based on mindfulness and kindness.
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” — Desmond Tutu
Turning to Technology
These days, more and more people are seeking ways to manage stress and anxiety levels, hone focus and attention, and reduce negativity. And because mobile phones are such a large part of our lives, we introduce you to Black Lotus, an app with tools to provide to begin a mindfulness practice from the bottom-up. It is aimed at helping you become someone who makes time every day, to quiet the mind, live attentively, be kind and mindful. With daily reminders and gamified tracking, the app motivates you to stick to your new habit.
The app is set-up under the mentorship of Om Swami, a monk who has integrated the concept of kindness in the app quite mindfully. The name itself justifies the purpose of the app. Black is black when it absorbs all the colors and lotus is a flower that grows in muddy water but blooms beautifully. That’s what the app aims at – to make us bloom despite the ups and downs.
The app is designed with a core belief that mindfulness powered by kindness bridges the divides of race, religion, politics, gender, and geography. It’s a free app that gives a platform to users to log their random acts of kindness. However small action may be, it creates an impact. It’s like the butterfly effect. More than 100,000 random act of kindness has been logged in the app so far. It provides opportunities to be kind in the simplest possible way. Even smiling is one of the random acts of kindness. A smile can uplift someone’s mood and make them feel better. Kindness is not only about donating money and charity, listening to someone patiently, feeding a bird or a stray animal, steeping back in a queue are also acts of kindness. The app has emphasized that small acts can make a big difference.
Many users share their stories of kindness to inspire others. Here is one of the beautiful stories shared recently: ‘While traveling from Chandigarh to Delhi on a train, a girl and her friend collected the packed leftover food that was served during the journey. Upon reaching Delhi station, she distributed the food to the underprivileged people sleeping at the station’. Anyone can do this act of kindness, what is needed is willingness. Imagine if this act is done every day how many people can be fed? Many such beautiful stories are shared on the app.
The app also has meditation tracks and chanting option, if one desired to use them. Meditation makes us mindful, and chanting gives peace. When we are peaceful inside, life looks sorted. A user can keep track of his/her meditation and chanting streak by saving each session under three categories- mindfulness, mood, and posture. One can meditate on music, mantra or can even choose guided meditation. So far, 1,60,000 hours of meditation have been logged on the app by users from all over the world. The app also organizes short, crisp and effective global mediation headed by Om Swami himself.
Black Lotus’s kindness and goodness initiatives go way beyond the app with live meditation sessions, health camps, kindness therapy, and many other efforts are also conducted by BL across the world. On November 12, BL is organizing a health check-up camp in association with a Delhi-based NGO at the community Park, DDA, Rajouri Garden. Recently, BL has conducted a meditation session with the cancer patients at the Gadge Maharaj Dharamshala Dadar, Mumbai and a kindness meet were also organized in Singapore.
The app believes in taking small steps, touching one life, one community at a time. To celebrate World Kindness Day (November 13), they are creating a human chain of kindness. The users are giving kindness cards to random people who are being kind to them or anyone. The card is a pay it forward mechanism to form a chain and spread kindness. The cards are self-explanatory, and each has a unique QR code. While passing the card, the giver has to scan the QR code or write down the number given below at www.imkind.in. Each time a card is scanned, the number in the chain gets incremented and thus creating a chain of kindness. The cards can be given to anyone, be it a colleague, friend, family or a complete stranger. Shortly, the app will provide a window to its users to deepen their practice and the ability to monetize content. Subscribers will pay a subscription fee for unlimited access, non-subscribers will have limited access.
Anyone could be a part of this chain to experience the bliss. Kindness is bliss, and Black Lotus is all about spreading kindness. Like Om Swami, says, ‘Kindness is the shortcut to happiness.’ And we invite you to take this shortcut and live life to its fullest.