It seems to me that everyday kindness has been put on the backburner. Everyone is so busy all the time, and people are forgetting to reach out to one another in small and simple ways.
I know I'm guilty of not always being as kind and thoughtful as I could be when I'm caught up in my work or personal life. I want to turn this around! To me, there's little point in trying to do grand things for humanity if you're not showing integrity in day-to-day life. So here are some thoughts on living a more compassionate existence.
Kindness is not weakness
Some people view kindness as a weakness - most often, in my experience, in the corporate world. In places where it's all about being hard and getting ahead, being nice isn't exactly a priority. But kindness is not a weakness! It takes courage, because you're opening yourself up and being vulnerable when you don't know what you might get in return.
Being unkind can be a form of self-protection, but in the end, it never works out.
Being kind doesn't mean being a doormat
It's also wrong to associate kindness with getting walked all over. Everyday kindness isn't about doing everything somebody asks of you or sacrificing your own wellbeing. You can still be assertive, protect yourself, and be kind. If someone's taking advantage of you or trying to manipulate your goodwill, that's a different issue.
But wait, what's in it for me?
Well, aside from just doing the right thing, the science is in: being kind to others boosts your mood by releasing serotonin and oxytocin, which also improves your connection to others. That warm fuzzy feeling is real!
I'd also venture to say that 'being nice' also helps with your self-worth and identity. It's a lovely thing to be known as a kind person - people appreciate other people who lift them up and make them feel good. And, in the words of Justin Timberlake circa 2006, what goes around comes around (goes around comes around comes back around)...
Kindness is also catchy - so when you start increasing your levels of everyday kindness, others around you may quickly follow. And that'll make life that much better for everyone.
So, what can I do?
The great thing is that everyday kindness is so simple and easy. All you need to do is start. Here are some ideas to try:
- Give out compliments and praise.
- Smile at people.
- Listen to those around you - and I mean really listen and have time for them.
- Be humble and happy when others experience success, and empathetic and compassionate when they are going through hardship.
- Be patient. Ask someone how their day is going without rushing past them to get on with yours.
- Be generous: with your words, your time - whatever is available to you.
- Be grateful for the blessings you can identify in your own life, including friends, colleagues and loved ones you value. Let them know about your gratitude!
How do you feel about everyday kindness? Is it something you think you have room to improve on? Let me know if you have any ideas of your own! In the meantime, I'll be over here trying to turn myself into a human sunbeam.
Feel the fear. Be your best. Give back.