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 live in the world that you create.

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.

1) Love Yourself

Kindness begins in your heart.

And it goes in a circle.

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

As you love yourself, so you love others.

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 smart.”

“I deserve success.”

“I can do it.”

And so on.

Praise helps you feel stronger, more courageous, and happier.

Positive thoughts lift your spirits.

3) Improve Yourself

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 that you would like to make. Then choose one simple action that you can do to advance one easy improvement.

Most people find it easier to make small changes.

Become someone that you admire.

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 tobacco and drugs) because toxins are forms of self punishment.

Be kind to 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.

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

Knowledge makes you attractive to yourself.

6) Live Wisely

Design your lifestyle so that it helps you live well.

Thus, choose activities for their contribution to being effective.

Why?

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.

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

Give yourself the gift of serenity.


Use kindness in Communication

Every relationship is a conversation.

So healthy relationships result from the kindness in your conversations.

8) Pay Attention

It’s basic courtesy to pay attention when someone is 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. Join their emotions.

In a phone conversation, pay even more attention because you’re speaking through a mechanical device.

You must give before you can 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.

Kindness begins with respect.

10) Let the Other Person Be Right

Often details, opinions, and news are unimportant.

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

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?”)

Recognize that an argument is a process where two (or more) people try to prove that someone is wrong. Thus, arguments seldom exhibit kindness.

Everyone thinks they are right.

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 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.


Show Kindness on the Road

Your driving habits affect 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.

Taking risks gives others control over your safety. 

13) Let Others Go By

Let people merge into your lane.

It’s safer for both of you.

Kindness could save a life. 

14) Allow Room

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

Recognize that following too close distracts (and even scares) the driver ahead of you. Thus driving too close could cause them to have an accident.

Following too close also scares your passengers.

And following too close is stressful for you.

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

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


Build Relationships with Kindness

Your relationships determine the quality of your life.

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

15) 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 also describing yourself.

Your view of others is a reflection of how you view yourself.

16) Be Grateful

Thank people 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.

Gratitude inspires kindness.

17) 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.

No one knows enough about anyone to tell them how to live.

18) Respect People’s Names

A person’s name is more than a word. It’s their core 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 as important as their face.


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 cooperative, more creative, and more productive.

A smile makes you more attractive.

20) Ask Questions

Show interest in others by asking them to tell you their story.

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.

21) Forgive

We forgive for ourselves. Because carrying resentments is a form of self punishment.

There are three parts to forgiveness. You acknowledge:

a) “I understand how you could have done this.”

b) “I understand how I could have allowed you to do this.”

c) “I will never put myself in a position such that this could happen again.”

Notice how you forgive the person who hurt you and then forgive yourself for allowing them to hurt you. Then you protect yourself from being hurt in the future.

Forgiveness requires courageous kindness.

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.

– Share important news.

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

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

We are all connected to each other.

24) Be Diplomatic

Use 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?”

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

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

Actually, you are always describing yourself.

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.”

Kind replies encourage more kindness.

26) Stay Calm

We all encounter situations that upset us.

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

And anger is also a choice.

So before choosing your response to a disappointment, ask yourself: 1) What result do you want? 2) What actions will best achieve that result? and 3) Is there any possibility that you could have caused the disappointment?

Kindness leads to solutions.

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.

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.


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 effective, joyful living.

Of course, you must know that there are more than 27 ways to be kind.

Ideally, kindness defines your approach to life. And then you apply kindness naturally in everything that you do.

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.

And through kindness, you leave memories that everyone wants to remember.


Spreading Happiness
One Act of Kindness at a Time

Also see: Why Kindness?

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