Kindness Matters


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

Say’s Phoebe, Two Juveniles


Why bother with kindness?

Let’s begin with a basic law of life: You receive exactly what you send.

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

And the best way to cause happiness is to be kind.


Kindness Begins With Yourself

Treating yourself with kindness builds a foundation of emotional and mental well being. This gives you the courage, energy, and outlook to share kindness with others.

This matters because we can give only what we already have.

So by showing kindness to yourself, you enable yourself to show more kindness to others.

1) Love Yourself

Kindness begins in your heart.

And it goes in a circle.

If you love yourself, it’s easier to love others. When you love others, you give them kindness. And when you send kindness to others, you feel better about yourself.

The good thing about a circle is: You can enter at any point.

So, you might begin by accepting yourself. Recognize that right now, you are perfect the way that you are.

2) Praise Yourself

Pause a moment to 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 smart.”

“I’m doing a good job.”

And so on.

Praise matters because it helps you feel stronger, more courageous, and happier.

3) Improve Yourself

First, we find joy knowing that we’re making progress toward being a better person.

So seek ways to improve.

If it helps, write a list of improvements. Then choose one simple thing that you can do to advance one easy improvement.

Most people find it easier to make small changes.

4) Be Nice to Yourself

Take care of yourself as if you were the most valuable thing that you owned.

Because you are.

So eat wisely. Get enough rest. Exercise.

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

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.

Seek a variety of new sources of learning from everywhere.

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

6) Live Wisely

Design your lifestyle so that it helps you do your best.

Examine how you spend your time. You might, for example, write a log of what you do during the day.

Challenge each activity for its impact in helping you live an effective life. Then simplify your lifestyle so that it’s filled with only those activities that add to value to your life.

7) Seek Peaceful Entertainment

Peaceful entertainment feels good.

It contains laughter, happy endings, and inspiring messages. It’s a gift of serenity that you can give yourself.

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


Use kindness in Communication

Every relationship is a conversation.

So the health of a relationship is directly related to the amount of kindness in the conversation you have with someone.

8) Pay Attention

It’s basic courtesy to pay attention to someone when they’re speaking to you.

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

So put everything aside. Avoid multi-tasking. And focus on what they’re saying.

If you’re having a face-to-face conversation, look into the other person’s eyes. Listen to their words. Understand their views. Join their emotions. Be fully present for them and with them.

In a phone conversation, pay even more attention because you’re speaking through a mechanical device without being able to watch facial expressions.

9) Let the Other Person Talk

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

You might even allow a brief pause before starting to speak.

10) Let the Other Person Be Right

Accept what the other person says without correction or argument.

Of course, this applies in matters where details are unimportant.

If however, the other person says ( for example ) that they’ll meet you tomorrow and you know the appointment is two days later, you might say, “I thought we were meeting on Thursday.”

And then be prepared to learn that you really did agree to meet tomorrow. Or be gracious if the appointment is on Thursday.

In either case, remember to be kind.

11) 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 a better story – even if you have a bigger one.

And let them express opinions – even if you disagree.

Just listen and accept what they’re saying. If appropriate, you might be impressed.

Save your wisdom, stories, and opinions for another conversation with someone else.

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, you might 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.


Show Kindness on the Road

Your driving habits have a huge influence on yourself, your passengers, and other drivers.

12) Slow Down

Driving slower uses less gas and treats other drivers with kindness.

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

I’ll offer an example.

I know someone whose wife had brain surgery. She feels pain when their car moves too quickly, especially on a rough road. So he drives as gently as possible while obeying the speed limit.

The point is: They might be in the car ahead of you.

13) Let Others Go By

Let people merge into your lane.

It’s safer for both of you.

14) Allow Room

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

Recall from driver’s training, you need at least one car length for every ten miles per hour in order to stop safely.

Also recognize that following too close distracts the driver ahead of you, and thus could cause an accident.

Following too close also scares your passengers. That can leave them acting grumpy.

And following too close is stressful. That can leave you feeling grumpy.

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


Build Relationships with Kindness

Your relationships determine the quality of your life.

Other people can provide help, ideas, and favors. Of course, they have to like you in order to help you.

Kindness is the key to building lasting relationships.

15) Offer Praise

Make a habit of offering praise.

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

16) Be Grateful

Thank the people in your relationships for everything and anything 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.

17) Accept Others

We need to give others the freedom to be the type of person they want to be and to live the way they want to live.

So accept people as they are.

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

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

Thus, no one knows enough about anyone to give them unsolicited advice or tell them how to handle their personal affairs.

If we were all the same, the World would need only one of us.

18) Respect People’s Names

A person’s name is their identity. It is part of their basic sense of self.

So use people’s names appropriatly and respectfully, as you would want them to use your name.


Make Kindness a Way of Life

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

Here are some possibilities.

19) Smile

A smile creates a friendly environment.

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

Also recognize, a smile makes you more attractive.

20) Praise Everyone

Brighten everyone’s day by offering random bits of praise.

This goes beyond praising people you know. It includes offering praise to strangers.

For example, you might tell a store clerk that you like the job they’re doing.

By the way, I even praise my cat.

Every time I see her, I say, “Good cat.”

And here’s the bonus: This is almost the same as saying, “Good Steve.” So it makes me feel good.

21) Thank Everyone

This is so important that it deserves a second mention.

Offering thanks is another form of praise.

So seek out reasons to thank people for anything.

Tell people that you’re glad they’re there. Tell people that you appreciate the job they’re doing.

22) Perform Favors

Make it a daily quest to perform at least five favors every day.

For example, you might:

– Open a door for someone.

– Let someone go in front of you at a check out line.

– Share important news with someone.

– Send someone an article that might interest them.

– Introduce someone to a friend who might be able to help them.

And so on.

Be creative. There are opportunities to help others everywhere.

Of course, be appropriate, too.

For example, pulling that weedy thing from your neighbor’s lawn may remove an expensive flower he planted to attract birds.

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

23) Acknowledge People

Recognize that we are all connected within the human experience that’s alive right now.

So acknowledge others. Smile when you pass them. Or just say, “Hello.”

24) Be Diplomatic

Use a kind vocabulary.

This consists of positive words or understated 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?”

One quick tip: Avoid using the word “Not.” Negative vocabulary sounds weak and often leads to arguments.

Instead, talk about what you want to do.

Kind words are powerful because they always achieve more in less time. Thus, practice diplomacy.

25) 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.”

26) Stay Calm

Let’s recognize that anger is a normal, natural reaction to fear.

Unfortunately, anger leads to bad choices.

On the other hand, kindness is powerful, strong, and constructive. Kindness leads to solutions.

So how might you respond with kindness when threatened?

You might:

First, reframe your role on the stage of life. Now you become a courageous person who responds with kindness.

Then reframe events to make them less threatening. Accept that everyone is doing the best they can. Or accept that others are doing things the way they want to do them.

And if necessary, leave.

27) Respect Nature

We are an extension of the Natural World.

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.

Minimize pollution. Recognize that we live on a finite planet. We don’t throw things away; we put them somewhere else.

These points matter because every major support system on our planet is now under stress.

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


Spreading Happiness
One Act of Kindness at a Time

Also see: Why Bother?

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