What Is Kindness?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once described Kindness as the golden chain by which society is bound.’

Generally, Kindness is the interaction that it starts with a feeling and extends to acting upon it! But how do we characterize Kindness? What motivates us to act upon our tender feelings? Acts of Kindness is deeply rooted in human nature and understanding its components gives us a framework on how to be cooperative and connected.

So what constitutes Kindness:

  • Kindness as benign tolerance translates into accepting and having compassion towards others. Sometimes, a slanted eyebrow, a concerned look, or a soft touch fulfill our social pact. Great apes spend hours a day grooming each other, even when there are no lice! Apes groom to forge alliances, reward generosity, or manage conflicts. 
Simone Fugazzotto Artwork
  • Kindness as principled pro-action, a behavior that is honorable and prompts objective measures for effective altruism. In 1873, Leo Tolstoy decided to stop writing Anna Karenina for a year to organize aid for the starving, “I cannot tear myself away from living creatures to bother about imaginary ones.” Many people thought it crazy that one of the finest novelists in the world would postpone one of his best works. But Tolstoy did not change his mind, and again in 1891, he spent two years raising money from around the world and working in a soup kitchen. 

 

  • Another aspect of Kindness is the empathetic responsiveness, which translates into considering other people’s feelings and doing the right thing – In 2013, Ivan Fernandez Anaya, Spanish Runner, intentionally lost the race to do the right thing. His opponent, Abel Mutai, mistakenly thought the end of the race came about 10 meters sooner than it did and stopped running. Fernandez gestured to El Pais to keep going! “I didn’t deserve to win it. I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn’t have closed if he hadn’t made a mistake. As soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn’t going to pass him.” 

Occasionally, Kindness involves generating feelings of openness, humility, non-judgemental, and warmth towards one-self. The bottom line is that Kindness is critical for our species to survive, consequently, we have to make a mental note to embrace daily acts of Kindness. 

Have Gratitude In Your Daily Life – Positive Vibe Series

When I lie on my back and look up at the Milky Way on a clear night and see the vast distances of space and reflect that these are also vast differences of time as well, when I look at the Grand Canyon and see the strata going down, down, down, through periods of time which the human mind can’t comprehend . . . it’s a feeling of sort of an abstract gratitude that I am alive to appreciate these wonders, when I look down a microscope it’s the same feeling, I am grateful to be alive to appreciate these wonders. 

Richard Dawkins

The concept of gratitude is described in different ways as an emotion, a virtue, or an attitude. Whatever your understanding of gratitude, often, it is defined by a two-step process: 1) “recognizing that one has obtained a positive outcome” and 2) “recognizing that there is an external source for this positive outcome.” (Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough). Yet, whatever your disposition with its meaning, interestingly, gratitude is not merely a cultural creation. Scientific research has shown that the concept is embedded in our evolutionary development. For instance, it has been observed that birds, vampire bats, or fish incur some costs to themselves in helping another member of their species, in view that it might be beneficial to them, eventually.

Furthermore, scientists suggest that gratitude has been developed gradually from this “tit for tat” behavior, better known as “reciprocal altruism.” A process that is based on turning strangers into friends who will likely help one another. Further studies on chimpanzees support this idea that these primates share food with another of their kind if they have been groomed or helped by them in the past. Or, studies from neuroscience have observed some areas in the brain that involve experiencing and expressing gratitude. 

Consequently, gratitude is an inherent cognitive response strongly associated with greater happiness and better physical health. A study has shown that people’s heart health improves when they show appreciation, which is related to gratitude. Regardless of how you feel, express, or express gratitude, this emotion undeniably builds stronger relationships, creates good experiences, increases our well-being, and cultivates an optimistic attitude. Not to mention, gratitude has psychological benefits perceived as an intervention to overcome negativity. Moreover, individuals who have a grateful disposition are better protected from various forms of burnout. For instance, athletes who have grateful mindsets are less prone to burn the candle at both ends.

Nevertheless, the ability to be grateful requires seeds of humility and the willingness to develop our disposition intelligently. One of the most effective ways to cultivate gratitude is to keep a journal. Studies have found that “counting your blessings” for ten weeks and keeping them in a gratitude journal increases optimism and improves life satisfaction, self-esteem, and, importantly, decreasing depression symptoms. Knowing well that as humans, we are more sensitive to negative emotions than positive. For instance, we will be miserable if things are taken away from us than if we were to receive a gift. Needless to say that being grateful does not translate into living a modest life with no ambition. On the contrary, gratitude is one of the essential components of self-improvement. It starts with full awareness of what can go wrong, what we can be grateful for, nurture a positive mindset, and build on our skills to reach our goals and progress.

In the meantime, remember:

Learn to be thankful for what you already have while you pursue all that you want.

Jim Rohn

 

 

Featured image by Perfectionist Magazine

Beginner’s Mind – Foundation of Mindfulness # 3

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.

Shunryo Suzuki

Past experiences and preconceived ideas have great value when it comes to making decisions about everyday activities. However, they are tainted to the degree that we cannot absorb the new reality of the present time or the face value of an action, a discussion, or a situation. It is always comfortable to skim through the information to support and validate our previous experience; nevertheless, we tend to lose the possibility of learning a new way of doing things or transforming our ideas for the better by seeing things with fresh eyes.

Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 11.08.22 AM.png
Art by Magritte – The Human Condition

Everybody knows that some things are simply impossible until somebody who doesn’t know that makes them possible. - Albert Einstein

The real problem starts when you are an expert, one who has more assumptions than questions. Fending off new ways of doing things or not being receptive to new ideas happens to the experienced. An apprehension swishes and contaminates the mind, which in turn will end up either with cherry-picking to justify the established rules and practices or simply dismissal of the new approach.

When we adopt the mind of a beginner, we endeavour to look at things as if for the first time, free from the influence of the past or speculation about the future. We open ourselves to what is here now, rather than constructing stories about what we think is here. Much like a scientist who observes without bias, beginner’s mind allows us to collect raw data. This opens us up to new possibilities, rather than being confined by habits and conditioning. — Tracy Ochester.

Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 11.08.41 AM
Art by Magritte – The treachery of images

A beginner’s mind is keen to meet a new person, have a fresh outlook on familiar people, or learn a new skill. Practicing beginners’ minds (or shoshin in Japanese Zen Buddhism) feeds a growth mindset. An outlook that refuses to have more of the same for the rest of its life knows well that the safety zone is not always the right place to be. It stales the mind and prevents you from growing and reaching your potential. By default, we prefer to stay in our comfort zone, yet adopting a growth mindset requires courage to embrace vulnerability and humility. To acknowledge that there is always a better way of doing things or when it comes to human relations, we give people the benefit of the doubt.

Ways to Cultivate a beginner’s mind

  • Adopt the notion that endless possibilities exist.
  • Switch off the autopilot mode. 
  • Be in the present moment.
  • Listen carefully when a familiar topic comes up; you don’t have to rush to express your opinion or add value; observe and ask questions like you didn’t know about the subject.
  • Explore something to re-experience the feelings; it can be basic as eating your meal or making your bed.
  • Stop labeling and notice that you are on auto judgment – Ask yourself why you consider things as bad, good, right, or wrong? Is it out of habit? Integrate seeing things in your life as they are!
  • Learn a new activity to integrate challenges to your comfort zone
  • Mingle with people who have a different view of life and explore their perspective and lifestyle.
  • Change a routine in your life, your walking route, exercise, or things you eat. 
  • Practice gratitude and appreciation – it weakens the habit of taking things for granted.

 

For more information, read “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Featured Image by aykutaydogdu

Jewellery Inspired by Constellations – Gift Series

Fine jewellery is the best option to mark a milestone. It captures a special moment, serves as wealth security, and its functionality is everlasting.  A self-expressive fashion statement that can be worn to different occasions from job interviews to special moments.

Every week we will introduce our selection of elegant, trendy and unique fine jewellery from around the globe. This week our curation is about mystical and magical symbols in the sky. Elegant collections that remind us that every moment echoes a mystery, a discovery or a logic of our existence in a universe much bigger than us.

Jessie V E symbolic jewellery that evokes emotions and harbours hidden and secret messages while fusing traditional goldsmithing techniques with cutting edge modern technology.

Leo Constellation Earrings - Available in 18kt Yellow, White or Rose gold - Jessie V E
Leo Constellation Earrings – Available in 18kt Yellow, White or Rose gold – Jessie V E
Aquarius Constellation. Available in 18ct Yellow, White or Rose gold - Jessie V E
Aquarius Constellation. Available in 18ct Yellow, White or Rose gold – Jessie V E

 

 

Capricorn Constellation. Available in 18ct Yellow, White or Rose gold - Jessie V E
Capricorn Constellation. Available in 18ct Yellow, White or Rose gold – Jessie V E

 

Saskia Diez: The German-born designer is based in the Munich area, and closely works with local goldsmiths using gold and silver from recycled materials, making her brand local and environmentally-conscious.

Saskia Diez - Zodiac Rings
Saskia Diez – Zodiac Rings

Shahla Karimi: All pieces are hand made in New York City with recycled gold and conflict-free stones. Custom bridal and engagement ring design is available both remotely and in her NYC showroom.

Virgo Ring - In the Zodiac Collection, the stars have been spread 360 degrees so only the wearer knows the reveal of these special cigar bands. Diamonds are flush set in high polished 14K gold. Designed for the pinky, but can be worn on any finger to honor yourself or represent a loved one.
Virgo Ring – In the Zodiac Collection, the stars have been spread 360 degrees so only the wearer knows the reveal of these special cigar bands. Diamonds are flush set in high polished 14K gold. Designed for the pinky, but can be worn on any finger to honour yourself or represent a loved one.
Sagittarius​ Zodiac Ring - the stars have been spread 360 degrees so only the wearer knows the reveal of these special cigar bands. Diamonds are flush set in high polished 14K gold. Designed for the pinky, but can be worn on any finger to honor yourself or represent a loved one.
Sagittarius Zodiac Ring – the stars have been spread 360 degrees so only the wearer knows the reveal of these special cigar bands. Diamonds are flush set in high polished 14K gold. Designed for the pinky, but can be worn on any finger to honour yourself or represent a loved one.

Odyssey by Marc Quinn

Being part of the human family is to recognise the need for equality, basic dignity, inalienable rights, freedom of speech and belief for all human beings.  According to the recent UNHCR report, there are about 68.5 million people forcibly displaced and fundamental aspects of life stolen from them. The cruelty does not end in displacement but to be rejected, unloved, unwelcomed and fear the intolerance.

Odyssey, the latest artwork project by British artist, Marc Quinn,  is the response to the “Us vs Them” mentality. The project involves blood donated by more than 5,000 people, with half of these volunteers being refugees and celebrities to bring awareness to the global refugee crises and to raise millions of dollars for people affected by this humanitarian tragedy.

“To me, the refugee crisis is one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies we have ever seen. I feel compelled to make an artwork about it and, by doing so, help the people involved”.  — Marc Quinn

Two identical, metric-ton cubes of frozen human blood, one by refugees and one by non-refugees, represent the belief that, under the skin, we are all the same.  It will be opening in late 2019 on the steps of the New York Public Library.  The not-for-profit work intends to shine a spotlight on the refugee crisis while raising $30m (£23m) for charities working to alleviate it such as the International Rescue Committee (one of the world’s largest refugee-focused NGOs), with the rest distributed to a group of further refugee organisations and programmes.

Partnered with Norman Foster, to design the pavilion and the contributors range from refugees to non-refugees, to celebrities, to scientists, historians to humanitarians including prominent refugees Angok Mayen and George Okeny, as well as others including Sting, David Miliband, Jude Law, Bono, Anna Wintour, Kate Moss.

 

 

Featured image courtesy of Sarah Lee for the Guardian

The Book of RUMI, Interview with Maryam Mafi

If you — wandering Sufi — are looking for the supreme treasure, do not look outside. Look within, and seek that.”

We climb the mountains, dive deep into the oceans, fly high as an eagle, paint a moment in time, dance to the rhythms to stretch our mental and physical capabilities. We strive to overcome our demons, speak through our soul, pushing past our ego, and keep our spirits full of generosity and compassion. We develop our social interactions, doing our best to be noble and reach oneness with divine reality. Still, it happens that we stumble, and our mind creates illusions, wanders in the den of inequities, and searches externally for peace. As our brain is wired to cause and effect, just then, we look for anchor stories from the most excellent sage to rise above the stagnation.

Delving in the Book of Rumi, translated by Maryam Mafi, is a new collection of 105 Stories and Fables that Illuminate, delight, and information from the six-volume spiritual epic, The Masnavi. Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, known as Rumi, was a 13th Century Iranian poet, juristIslamic scholartheologian, and Sufi mystic originally from Greater Khorasan. The book is an invariably transcendental gift that tames the ego, explores understanding, heals the brokenhearted, gives hope, and inspires unity and unconditional love.

Maryam Mafi, an Iranian author, translator, and expert on Rumi, dazzles with didactic and entertaining well-known stories of Rumi that capture his mystic wisdom. She has skillfully preserved the exciting and dramatic integrity of Masnavi, which, still in the 21st century, resonates with our personal experiences and evokes courage to reach agape love. Maryam Mafi, a graduate of Tufts, American and Georgetown Universities, is tirelessly on the mission to acquaint the west with Eastern literature.

IMG_2711

Interview with Maryam Mafi

Jupilings: What attracted you to Rumi, to begin with-

MM: I came across a book on Rumi by an English scholar called, The Way of Passion; and I was set on fire! I felt as if all my questions about spirituality and life, in general, were finally explained to me in the simplest, most eloquent manner.

Jupilings: Rumi’s masterwork “Masnavi”, how does it impact our modern lives-

MM: The Masnavi is often referred to as the Persian Quran. We can learn unrivalled guidance from Rumi in his Masnavi, ageless insights into how to live our lives more honestly and with integrity, even in these times of extreme conflict and mistrust.

Jupilings: What was the biggest challenge when translating “Masnavi”-

MM: Comprehending the original Sufi concepts.

Jupilings: What does Rumi celebrate

MM: Beyond all- Love.

Jupilings: What are Rumi’s views on women-

MM: He has great respect for women and considers them no less than men.

Jupilings: What does spirituality mean to you

MM: Love.

Jupilings: Please walk us through the process of literary translation, (how do you choose a book,…)- 

MM: Well, I’ve been translating Rumi for the past 20 years so I can tell you about how I choose a poem or a story. Generally, I pick the pieces instinctively, or they’re all-time favourites; like the stories in my latest book, “The Book of Rumi”, which I’ve translated into prose and will be available on Amazon in December. If I need to organise the works under various headings or chapters, I sort them out afterwards not before I translate them. Other translators probably do it the other way round; the rational way! I go with my heart!

Jupilings: Three tips to work with publishers-

MM: I feel blessed that so far my publishers have always come to me. I used to work for a publisher when I finished university so I’m familiar with the other side of the spectrum and it can be quite daunting for writers. You could begin by writing to every single publisher who publishes books like the one you have written and hope one of them replies. It’s a similar process for finding a job. These days though, self-publishing is very popular and often great books are picked from amongst them and published later by publishing companies.

Jupilings: Do you have a daily ritual when you are working on a book-

MM: Yes, I start work first thing in the morning; often after a yoga and meditation practice. I don’t like to break my day, so I work straight through often missing lunch. I might go for a long walk if I feel stuck or just to get some movement in my body. I don’t work late at night anymore because my eyes get too tired from the screen.

Jupilings: Tips on personal branding as a literary translator-

MM: I’m the worst person to answer this question, I only work on material I like and have been dedicated to translating my spiritual master, Rumi; and hopefully other Sufi masters in the future. So I wouldn’t call that commercially branding myself successfully!

Jupilings: What does women empowerment mean to you- 

MM:  Trusting our instincts and our intellects; but above all, trusting our hearts.

Jupilings: What do you do to conquer fear or self-doubt:

MM: I think fear and self-doubt are two playful little monkeys who love to play with our egos because they’re cut from the same cloth. As long as we know who they are and what they represent we can negotiate with them. I like to think that they’ll eventually leave us alone at one point in our lives and find better entertainment.

Jupilings: What is your life motto-

MM:  I like to say: ‘This too shall pass,’ and adhere to it every time I come across a difficulty. However, I think it’s more complicated than that. I tend to think the old fashion way, that we have a moral obligation to do our absolute best physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, to help another human being, in whatever capacity, when we are in a position to do so.
Also, I do sincerely believe that when you do good, eventually at some point good shall be done to you. The cliché of what goes around comes around may sound simple, but it’s one of the most valuable basic truths of life.

Maryam Mafi’s collection of Rumi translations are available on Amazon

Anthropocene Project – Art Gallery of Ontario

 

Anthropocene- Relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. (Oxford Dictionary)

The idea was popularised by Nobel Prize winner Paul Jozef Crutzen 

A picture can tell a thousand story, be intelligible and have a colossal impact. It speaks louder than any politician or some extensive report for that matter.  How many times we genuinely were interested in learning about climate change and the environmental dangers, however as soon as we see long paragraphs, we fall into “too long didn’t read it” reaction.

Bringing awareness to environmental problems is difficult to let alone tackle them. Nevertheless, knowing about it and educating the public in an uncomplicated approach is smart. “The Anthropocene” exhibition is the creative project produced by Nicholas de Pencier, documentary director, producer, and director of photography; Edward Burtynsky, one of the world’s most respected photographers and Jennifer Baichwal, director and producer of documentaries. Together, they have simplified the scientific research using virtual reality, augmented reality, film, superb and inspiring post-industrial art to examine the human influence on the earth.

The Canadian master photographer of industrial landscapes, Burtynsky, has captured surreal shots some from satellite or aerial views indicating the widespread harm caused by human activities. Deforestation, dense human settlements, heaps of garbage or existing and potential repercussions of unknown and ignored exploitation of our precious cosmic real estate.

An exhibition, not to be missed, that unveils how we consume the natural resources of our planet and how we dispose of the waste. Learning about “the human signature on earth”, disturbs and gives the motivation to care about the earth. It runs till January 6 in Art Gallery of Ontario and February 24, 2019, at National Gallery of Canada.

Dandora Landfill - Plastics Recycling, Nairobi, Kenya

Dandora Landfill – Plastics Recycling, Nairobi, Kenya

Phosphor Tailings Pond near Lakeland, Florida, USA
Phosphor Tailings Pond near Lakeland, Florida, USA – the unnatural colour of a phosphor tailings pond in Florida due to pollution (Phosphor is essential for industrial agricutlure)
Uralkali Potash Mine, Berezniki, Russia
Uralkali Potash Mine, Berezniki, Russia
Makoko,Lagos Nigeria
Makoko,Lagos Nigeria
These large tetrapods will be used to create seawalls and protect shorelines. Each one can weigh up to 80 tons. Tetrapods allow water to flow around them and prevent coastal erosion, a serious global threat. This form of seawall now covers approx 60 per cent of China coastline. Made of concrete, tetrapods are technofossils- human-produced objects that cannot naturally decompose, another geological marker of the anthropocene.
These large tetrapods will be used to create seawalls and protect shorelines. Each one can weigh up to 80 tons. Tetrapods allow water to flow around them and prevent coastal erosion, a serious global threat. This form of seawall now covers approx 60 per cent of China coastline. Made of concrete, tetrapods are technofossils- human-produced objects that cannot naturally decompose, another geological marker of the Anthropocene.
Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 9.32.07 PM
Nigeria, poor communities have begun pirating crude oil from the pipelines through a process known as ‘bunkering’. Volumes of crude and toxic by-products are leaked through this process into the surrounding forests and waterways.