Reviewed in the United States on March 29, 2019
Very rarely, I hear a phrase so poignant it is able to stop time., It leaves me frozen, and emotions once pushed down rush to the surface and explode, all superficial thoughts stopping for the briefest of moments. In this place appears a gap in time, an immeasurable space experienced by everyone at some point in their lives, the moment where it becomes clear a change is necessary. Most often, when this happenesd to me, it’s not truly the phrase that is unusual, instead, it’s a simple “run of the mill” utterance for many who hear it; it passes other people by as if it were floating on the breeze. But, for me, that sentence cut me, it went in, fast, deep straight to my heart.That phrase manifested not as a thought but as a feeling, a visceral physical reaction, something my body once had but lost. It was once there, but from a place both forgotten and neglected, this phrase bought it back. This feeling was brought back while watching the Kindness Diaries and then more so again and again while reading “Go be Kind”. These reactions seeped deep into my consciousness and would not be shaken, they had taken hold and would only grow.
“Go Be Kind” is the book by the Leon Logothetis, who is also the creator of the Netflix and Amazon Prime show The Kindness Diaries. The show is Leon traveling the world with no money relying solely on the kindness of others for this survival (he does not accept money only kindness). “Go Be Kind” is a more detailed journal that is independent of the TV series, but makes many references to the show in its text. In a sense, it gives the reader a road map to their own kindness journey.
Yes, there was another truth when I first received the “Go be Kind book”. To be completely honest, I thought it was absolute garbage! I skimmed it and was put off by the font. Yes, that’s right, the font offended me, you see, I am a 12 point Arial Font guy and this “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” style font looked liked a kids book to me. I stopped at a couple of pages and thought it was simply recycled content from the TV show It appeared to me that Leon was trying to squeeze some extra pennies out of his show by writing a book.
Needless to say, I left it where I skimmed it, in the bathroom. But, on a later visit, I decided it might be worth a second chance. After watching the netflix series, I knew Leon was not a penny squeezing kind of guy. so I picked it up and started to read it! Imagine that. And, with a new perspective and an open mind, my feelings changed. Each chapter is organized into unique “adventures” and if you read and try and follow the exercises, it really probes deep and forces you to think, to examine who you are and what it really means to be kind.
In order to help its readers, the text is written in a supportive style, and, often, it preemptively has an answer to the challenges the “adventures” present. Similar to the overall theme of the book, it seems to treat the reader with the same compassion and kindness it teaches. However, some of the adventures are particularly challenging. For example, the third adventure asks the reader to find people who might appear lonely, or someone who looks different that you, and give them a genuine compliment. It sounds simple right? However, for me, and I’m sure for many others who picked this book up with the intention of learning to be more kind, while simple, it was not easy at all. Nevertheless, perseverance delivers. Actually following through with the exercise feels uplifting and freeing!
Some of the adventures are more straightforward, while others are considerably more difficult, such as approaching and talking to strangers about kindness. Boy, that was a tough one, yet the exercise playing cell phone roulette and just calling someone and connecting seamed easier, but no less meaningful. Lots of adventures involve going out into the world and connecting with those around you, but quite a few are reflective, almost therapeutic exercises such as examining when and why you treated someone poorly.
It is clear that Leon has really thought this book through, it’s a journey in of itself. I would guess these are all activities that Leon performed and meditated on himself over the past years on his journey to being kind both with himself and others. In addition, throughout the book, there are references to being lonely or feeling like an outsider. It’s certainly a book for us outsiders, people who feel isolated, or at least have at some point in their lives. Leon shares how this happened to him at school and how it changed and shaped his life.
In summary, the book will continue to change me and others who read it. It has given me the gap that only kindness will, the gap between an event and my reaction to it, one that will help me deal first with myself, then with my family, and finally to engage with the world with a greater sense of connection, compassion and kindness.
Read the book, do the exercises, ignore the font, you will grow to love it!, watch the show, and be kind- starting with yourself.