Can the chain of kindness turn you unkind?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you heard about the concept of circle of kindness, an idea that tries to emphasize that doing an act of kindness to someone shall encourage that person to do another act of kindness to someone else, and so on, the kindness chain shall  go on and eventually, you shall be at the receiving end of an act of kindness. And that’s why we should keep practicing acts of kindness to make this world a better place. You may have seen this video on a social network before.

While driving to work one day, I started thinking about this concept (that’s what you do when you are stuck in traffic, your mind wanders to such random thoughts.) I will get to the point why I started thinking about it, but before that, I would like to emphasize here the difference between “chain of kindness” and “circle of kindness”. A circle of kindness is a subset (or an instance of) chain of kindness. It’s possible that you could initiate this chain but don’t end up being on the receiving end of such an act.

Ok, now getting back to the point why I started thinking about it, I had to shift to a right lane but the cars in the right lane weren’t giving me enough space to shift in. Then someone in that lane , who probably saw my struggle to get in that lane, decided to give me enough space to shift in easily, I raised my hand as a gesture of thanks to that person. Then, after a few seconds later, I saw another car struggling to get into my lane and I decided to help him out by letting him enough space to get in front of me. Or in other words, close to the theme of this post, I carried forward the chain of kindness.

That started a train of thought (or shall I say a chain of thought to keep up with the title:)). But before that let me define some actors to keep track of them easily.

A – the initiator (the person who let me in)

B – the middle guy (me)

C – the last receiver of kindness (the person whom I let in)

Questions for A:
How did A feel when B let C in ? Did he feel aggravated? If not, How would he feel if C let in D and D let in E and so on.. ? Would he still be calm about it? Will he regret initiating this chain of kindness and curse himself and eventually, decide to pledge to never show such an act of kindness?

Questions for B:
Was the act of letting C in just a way of pleasing himself or settling the “score” of kindness? Would B act as the initiator himself next day or would he always need a nudge to do such an act? Letting in C is adding additional delay to A, so is B doing an unkind act to A then?

Questions for C:
What happens if C doesn’t get a chance to show kindness in traffic, does he forget about it or would he be willing to initiate it next time?

All these questions were interesting to think about, give it a try. It’s not easy to guess what others would think, so I think the easiest way to reason about them will be imagining what would you think if you were A (or B or C). I don’t want to persuade your thoughts by sharing my personal opinions now, so let’s talk about this when we meet over a cup of coffee 🙂

PS: Total number of “kindness” given(used) in this post = 19 😛

Six Stages of Separation

Reading Time: 2 minutes

It has been quite a while now(about six months) since I had written down something other than code or emails. I have lost count of number of times I wished to write down something but I couldn’t because I had an obsession to write the perfect opening sentence and I wasn’t able to nail it down. The further I stayed away from writing, the more elusive that perfect opening sentence became. Today, I may not have the perfect opening sentence again but I have this itch, the itch to write something else.

Since this separation gap from writing is the predominant thought on my mind today, I would like to share my thoughts on different stages of separation one may experience depending on the length of separation.

1. Realization: It may take a few days or sometimes few months to realize that you are missing something. You are not sure what it is but you could sense that something is amiss.

2. Investigation: Once you realized that something is wrong, you try to diagnose the symptoms and look for the possible causes. Sometimes, you wouldn’t be able to nail down your investigation to one thing. When that happens, you are likely to just continue on with your life. However, if you are able to find the cause, you proceed to next stage.

3.  Circumspection: At this stage, you know what you are missing but you still doubt your process of investigation or even deny it. You ignore the results of this preliminary investigation and continue on with your life.

4. Acceptance: Sometimes, you do accept the cause as reasonable. When, you accept it, you do a post-analysis about its importance in your life. You ask yourself if you should do something to get it back or whether you should let it drift further apart. Depending on the choice you make, you reach either Resignation stage or Redemption stage.

5a. Resignation: Although, giving up is considered as a characteristic of pessimistic person, sometimes it is the wiser choice to make than reach a stage of obsession to get that thing back in your life. Sometimes, the decision to let it drift apart is not in your hands and come to terms with it. In the cases where this decision lies in your hands, you reevaluate if you have changed so much by this time that that thing holds much lesser importance now. If so, you decide to let it drift apart and come to peace with the fact that it occupies only historical significance in your life events.

5b. Redemption: In this stage, you make plans on how to get it back in your life. You reiterate it’s importance in your life and convince yourself to make determined and wholehearted efforts to get it back. It may take some time to get it back but if you are determined enough, you will definitely get it back!

6. Obsession: It is rarely reached when you make efforts to get that something back in a case where you have drifted too far. When you have drifted too far from that thing, efforts to get it back is very likely to make the things that are important in your life meander away.  This is a dangerous stage to reach as the impact of pursuing it on your life would either be devastating or spectacular.

Hey, What’s up?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In life, we have always encountered questions and always will. Some are absurd and some make us feel absurd. Some we can’t find an answer to and some we don’t want to find an answer to. Some we like to ask and some we like to answer. Some we learn how to answer and  some we learn how not to answer. Some question our doubts and some question our beliefs. Whether we like them or not, we can’t deny their importance in our lives. Our educational credentials are based on how we handle them.

There would always be a set of questions that bothers you. Over a period of time, that set gets replaced with another set. Some carry over (like ‘What I am doing with my life?’) but most of them don’t.

About three years ago, one of the questions which bothered me was ‘Why do you want to do an MBA?’.  I was asked this question a few times in interviews and I asked this to myself almost every day while I prepared for management entrance exams. Although, a web search returns back many hits on how to answer it or rather how others have answered it and in the interviews, that’s how I answered it then. It convinced the person who asked it but not me. So, I chose not to do an MBA.

Now-a-days, I get stumped by a question which I am asked about ten times in a day and I never know what would be the appropriate response to it. The question I am referring to is ‘Hey, what’s up?’. Sometimes, I think whether I should choose a ‘response of the day’ for it and use it through the entire day. Unfortunately, it doesn’t works out well as I am supposed to answer this question differently based on my surrounding environment, my level of acquaintance with the other person and my activities in recent past or my current activity.

In office-like surroundings, when I am asked this question, I consider for a moment replying like ‘Ceiling’ or ‘A Pixar animation movie‘ but then I don’t as this joke has become so stale that even I don’t find it funny now. Then, I wonder if I can consider this as a rhetorical question and ignore with a smile. At this moment, most of the time, the other person understands that I mean serious business only and they proceed towards asking more ‘business-related’ questions. But sometimes, I get back a smile. Then, I consider two options. First, asking back the same question ‘What’s up?’ to throw back the ball in other’s court. Second, give the small-talk-ending ‘nothing much’ response. Either of these options work well most of the times to cut down the small talk. If I take first option, the other person takes second option often. However, when the other person replies back more elaborately with details of something exciting he has done recently and when he ends up with ‘what have you been up to?’, I feel a peer-pressure to reply back with almost similar level of detail of something exciting I did recently (or let my imagination run to make something sound exciting).

At this moment, I feel that this post is incomplete as I am supposed to elaborate what thoughts I go through when I meet people in not office-like surroundings but I will skip that as this is not an essay where I have to cover all points to maximize my marks.