Kindness Matters

Pair of Say’s Phoebe Juveniles, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in 27 Ways to Show Kindness

Say’s Phoebe, Two Juveniles Perched Next to Each Other

Why bother with kindness?

Let’s begin with two basic laws of life:

 You live in the world that you create.

So if you want to be happy, cause more happiness.

 You receive what you send.

So if you want a better life, send more kindness.

Kindness Begins With Yourself

Treating yourself with kindness creates a foundation of emotional and mental well being. And that expands into sharing kindness with others.

Here are three ways to be kind to yourself:

1) Love Yourself

Kindness begins in your heart.

And it goes in a circle.

So feel compassion for yourself. And then extend that into love.

If you love yourself, it’s easier to love others. And when you love others, you feel better about yourself.

✅ You find in others what you see in yourself.

2) Praise Yourself

Reflect upon the talk that goes on in your mind.

Is it kind or is it critical?

If you’re praising yourself, you’re helping yourself. If you’re criticizing yourself, you’re hurting yourself.

Here are examples of kind self talk.

“I’m a good person.”

“I deserve success.”

“I can do it.”

And so on.

✅ Praise helps you feel better.

3) Improve Yourself

We feel good knowing that we’re making progress toward being a better person.

So seek ways to improve.

If it helps, write a list of improvements that you want to make. Then choose one simple action you can take to advance one easy improvement.

Most people find it easier to make small changes.

And note that how you treat yourself goes in a circle. If you make good choices, then it’s easier to love yourself. And that makes it easier to make more good choices as well as praise yourself.

✅ Become someone you admire.

Invest in Yourself

Your self-care represents gifts of kindness that you give yourself.

4) Be Nice to Yourself

Take care of yourself as if you were your most valuable possession.

Because you are.

So eat wisely. Get enough rest. Exercise.

And avoid toxins (such as drugs and tobacco) because toxins are forms of self punishment.

✅ Kindness begins with yourself.

5) Learn

Your effectiveness is directly related to what you know.

So buy books (and read them). Or go to the library (and read books).

Take courses. Attend seminars. Join professional associations.

Spend time each day improving yourself.

And then use what you learn because that helps you feel good about yourself.

✅ Knowledge is a gift you give yourself.

6) Live Wisely

Design your lifestyle so that it helps you live well.

Thus, choose activities for their contribution to being effective.

When you make good choices, you will find it easier to like yourself.

✅ Wise choices made consistently over long time become a life that you admire.

7) Seek Peaceful Entertainment

Peaceful entertainment feels good.

It contains laughter, happy endings, and inspiring messages.

And so avoid violent movies, violent TV, and violent video games because these cause stress, fear, and nightmares.

Also avoid hate media because hate is a concoction of lies designed to scare you into making bad choices.

✅ Give yourself the gift of serenity.

Western Bluebird, © Photo by Steve Kaye, in article 27 Ways to Show Kindness

Western Bluebird, Male (Left) and Female (Right)

Use kindness in Communication

Every relationship is a conversation.

So healthy relationships result from exchanging kindness in conversations.

8) Pay Attention

It’s basic courtesy (and good manners) to pay attention when someone is speaking to you.

This shows that you care about them and what they have to say.

If you’re having a face-to-face conversation, look into the other person’s eyes. Listen to their words. Join their emotions.

In a phone conversation, pay extra attention because you’re speaking through a mechanical device without the benefit of watching their face.

Avoid multi-tasking while talking on the phone. Instead focus entirely on the conversation.

Recognize multi-tasking causes mistakes, both mental and physical.

It also causes noise that prevents the other person from hearing what you say. And it distracts you from sounding intelligent.

✅ Give what you want to receive.

9) Let the Other Person Talk

If you’re fully focused on what the other person is saying, you’ll let them talk without interruption.

You might even allow a brief pause before starting to speak. This facilitates taking turns to talk.

✅ Demonstrate kindness by showing respect.

10) Be Diplomatic

Use positive words or understated, neutral words.

For example, you might say:

“What happened?” instead of “What went wrong?”

“I need help with this.” instead of “You better fix this.”

“Am I making sense?” instead of “Do you understand what I said?”

In contrast, negative vocabulary sounds weak and often leads to arguments.

So talk about what you want. Talk about what’s possible. Talk about solutions.

✅ Diplomacy opens conversations.

Lift Others with kindness

Make your conversations memorable.

11) Let the Other Person Be Right

Often details, opinions, and news are unimportant.

So accept what the other person says without correction or judgement.

If appropriate, explore differences with:

a) Friendly positive statements that assume responsibility for your viewpoint. (“I thought it was . . . .”)

b) Friendly questions that seek to understand. (“How might that work?”)

c) Vague replies. (“Is that so?” “Really.” “Interesting.”)

Recognize that an argument is a process where two (or more) people try to prove that someone is wrong. Thus, arguments seldom exhibit kindness. And arguments never resolve anything.

✅ Everyone thinks they are right.

12) Let the Other Person Be the Star

For example, let them be special, knowledgeable, and important during your conversation.

Let them teach you things – even if you already know them.

Let them tell their story – even if you have a better one.

And let them express opinions – even if you disagree.

Just listen and accept what they’re saying.

If you disagree with something that you heard, accept that the other person had the courage to express their views. Now you know what they consider to be important.

If you care to, ask gentle questions that explore how they obtained their opinions or how they would apply their ideas.

And if necessary, you can: a) Thank them for telling you something interesting, and b) State that you have a different view. Then pause. If this seems to take the conversation into an argument, you may want to change the topic.

✅ People admire those who help them succeed.

13) Ask Questions

Help others feel important and special by asking questions.

Ask them how they made critical choices, what inspires them, and how they lived through important parts of their lives.

And then accept their answers.

✅ Wise people collect ideas.

Show Kindness on the Road

Your driving habits affect yourself, your passengers, and other drivers.

13) Slow Down

Driving slower saves money on gas and treats others with kindness.

Recognize that everyone is driving as fast as they want to go. So give others the freedom to do what they want to do.

✅ Driving carefully puts you in control of your safety. 

14) Let Others Go By

Let people merge into your lane.

It’s safer for both of you.

✅ Kindness could save a life. 

15) Allow Room

Stay a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.

Following too close distracts (and even scares) the driver ahead of you. Driving too close could even cause an accident.

Following too close also scares your passengers.

And following too close is stressful for you.

In addition, driving really too close (e.g., a few feet behind the car ahead of you) is a form of bullying. That upsets everyone.

So be kind to everyone (other drivers, your passengers, and yourself) by keeping a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

✅ You can show kindness anywhere, even with strangers that you will never meet.

Least Sandpipers and Western Sandpipers, in article 27 Ways to Show Kindness

Least Sandpipers and Western Sandpipers, Their Flight Is an Example of a Cooperative Partnership

Build Relationships with Kindness

Your relationships determine the quality of your life.

When people like you, they are more willing to help you.

16) Offer Praise

Make it a habit of offering praise.

Praise inspires people to earn more praise. It expands creativity. It promotes courage.

Recognize that when you talk about others, you are describing yourself.

✅ You praise yourself when you praise others.

17) Be Grateful

Thank people for everything in every way possible.

This even includes thanking them for ordinary things, such as:

– Cooking a meal

– Mowing the lawn

– Washing dishes

And so on.

Besides saying “Thank you,” you can also write thank you notes. Or send a thank you e-mail.

✅ Great leaders praise others.

18) Accept Others

We need to give others the freedom to be who they want to be and to live the way they want to live.

So accept others as they are.

Recognize that everyone has different interests, priorities, and responsibilities.

And recognize that there is always more to know about someone else’s life story.

✅ Acceptance builds relationships.

19) Respect People’s Names

A person’s name is more than a word. It’s their identity.

So use people’s names appropriately and respectfully.

Thus, never assign nick names, mispronounce names, or make jokes about people’s names.

✅ A person’s name is more important than their face.

Make Kindness a Way of Life

You can practice kindness everywhere you go, even with strangers.

Here are some possibilities.

20) Smile

A smile creates a friendly environment.

And friendly environments help people feel safer. When people feel safe, they become more cooperative, more creative, and more productive.

✅ A smile makes you more attractive.

22) Perform Favors

Seek ways to perform at least five favors every day.

For example, you might:

– Open a door for someone.

– Let someone go in front of you.

– Pick up something that someone dropped.

And so on.

Of course, be appropriate, too.

For example, pulling that weedy plant from your neighbor’s lawn may remove an expensive flower she put there to attract birds.

So always ask people if they want your help when it involves their personal space and possessions.

✅ Joyful living comes from helping others.

23) Acknowledge People

Recognize that our connections define us a members of humanity.

So acknowledge others. Smile when you pass them. Say, “Hello.”

Your simple acknowledgement of another may make a profound difference in their day.

✅ We are all connected to each other.

24) Accept Kindness

Let others be kind to you.

If someone compliments your work, say, “Thank you.”

If someone thanks you for doing something, say, “My pleasure.” or “I’m glad to help.”

✅ Kind replies encourage more kindness.

25) Respect Nature

We are part of nature.

In turn, the state of our environment is a reflection of how we perceive ourselves.

So keep the outdoors clean by putting trash in trash cans.

Use natural resources carefully.

And minimize pollution. We live on a finite planet. So we don’t throw things away; instead we put them somewhere else.

If we want to have a future, we need to be kind to nature.

✅ You are as much a part of Nature as Nature is a part of you.

Show Kindness When Challenged

26) Forgive

Life is messy.

There are mistakes, setbacks, and disappointments. And there are also painful experiences.

First, we forgive the people who hurt us.

And then, depending upon the type of harm they caused, we may choose to protect ourselves by staying away from them.

Next we forgive ourselves. Sometimes this applies to mistakes we made. In those cases we find the lessons in the mistakes and avoid repeating them.

We can also forgive ourselves for our role in situations where someone hurt us. And yes, that role may be as trivial as just being there.

Forgiveness matters because carrying resentments is a form of self punishment.

I’ll admit forgiveness can be difficult.

So sometimes it requires working with a coach or therapist.

✅ Forgiveness requires courageous kindness.

27) Stay Calm

We all encounter situations that upset us.

This upset feeling usually triggers fear. And the normal reaction to fear is anger. It’s a survival skill we inherited from our primeval ancestors.

So staying calm can be a challenge.

Let’s also recognize that anger is a choice.

So when confronted by a disappointment, take a long, slow, deep breath.

Then ask yourself: 1) What result do you want? 2) What actions will best achieve that result? and 3) Do you fully understand the situation?

I have learned that it’s helpful to wait (sometimes a day) before responding to disappointments and odd behavior.

✅ Kindness leads to solutions.

Personal Note

Just like you, I have experienced life. This has appeared in all forms, from joyful to painful.

From this I learned that kindness is the key to joyful, successful living.

You must know that there are more than 27 ways to be kind.

Actually, there are as many ways to be kind as there are choices.

So ideally, kindness guides every part of your life. And then it defines your character, thereby becoming your legacy.

Admittedly, there are times when acting with kindness can take courage, discipline, and emotional maturity.

And it’s worth the effort.

That’s because you create two types of legacy. One is the memory that you leave with others. The second is the memory that you leave with yourself.

✅ Through kindness, you leave a legacy that everyone, including you, will admire.

One more thought:

Be the kindness that you want in the world.

Spreading Happiness
One Act of Kindness at a Time

Also see:

Why Kindness?

3 Things to Do Every Day

Conversation with a Song Sparrow

The Bird Next Door

How to Be a Millionaire

Back to Articles

Wonderful Organization: Charter for Compassion