Eva Ritvo, MD
Momosa Publishing (2017)
Reviewed by Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views (9/18)
Can one person really make a difference? Eva Ritvo’s book, “Bekindr: The Transformative Power of Kindness,” contains simple stories from everyday people whose lives were significantly improved by the unsolicited kind acts of others. They are corroborated by facts, quotes and studies from prominent institutions confirming that we have an inborn desire to be nice. And, that when we demonstrate an act of kindness, we are happier for doing so.
As a psychiatrist and founder of the Bekindr movement, Dr. Ritvo has researched numerous studies that have monitored the body or behaviors to prove that exposure to goodness can improve our health and well-being. The author goes even further to contend that we are better off as a society when we act compassionately. She provides a list of thoughtful actions and suggests that we spend a couple of times per day reflecting on how we can be more generous to others and to ourselves. Ritvo believes this effect will snowball into a kinder existence.
Dr. Ritvo’s assertion directly relates to our current state of “culture attacks” – those conflicts brought on by individuals or groups that strive to accentuate our differences and separate us. The stories she shares point out that not only do we need the kindness of others to succeed and feel good but also that we need it to bolster our trust in humanity.
The readings each remind me of that two-minute snippet of good news that comes at the tail end of a whole hour of disturbing national news. Although I can relate to some of the book’s stories more than others, they are all heart-warming and reflect the goodness we seek. Some recount simple acts between strangers while others document long-term connections that lead to transformation. The authors may not all be superb writers, but their chronicles are candid and reflective.
The personal pictures included lend authenticity to the narratives – we feel connection when we see faces. Often, we don’t come face to face with humanity. Despite how attached we are through social media, we are physically divided and separate from one another – keeping our eyes on our phones more than the person sitting next to us. Ritvo’s book will make me think twice of how my actions, even something as simple as a smile, can change another person’s perspective.
In Eva Ritvo’s book, “Bekindr: The Transformative Power of Kindness,” she compiles 64 short stories of individuals who have gone out of their way to help to those in need. Quotes, photos and other newsworthy facts surround these fascinating accounts. Dr. Ritvo’s request is simple but one that has far-reaching effects – Bekindr. Whenever you feel submersed in negativity by downtrodden news, pick up this book and read from its pages. It will refresh your attitude and give you faith in your fellowman. It may also bring a tear to your eye and a smile to your face. Then pay it forward.