Kindness: an underrated virtue that has the potential to positively change both your life and the lives of those around you.
Today, I turned to my coworker and asked, “Do you ever feel like we collectively become less kind as we age?” When I say hello to the people I have not previously known, they often act like I don’t exist. Even people I am well acquainted with constantly fail to show up when we have plans together without taking the time to inform me their intentions have changed.
And it’s not just my personal world that feels crueler. Especially with this past presidential election, rudeness seems to have flourished in the world. One of the unfortunate benefits of social media is that it allows people to say things to each other that they would never say face to face, so anyone can go on rants to either be ignored or, worse, praised.
While I can’t prove that the world is a meaner place, I can do my best to combat the crudeness. How? In the words of many wise people, by “killing them with kindness.” I’m trying to be a kinder and caring person, and I encourage you to do the same.
Because why not go ahead and make someone’s day?
- Say please and thank you. Often. Never underestimate the power of a simple thank-you.
- Let pregnant and elderly people have your seat on the bus or train. It's really that simple.
- Open doors. Hold the door open for someone carrying a bunch of groceries or a suitcase.
- Empty the dishwasher and take out the trash. Why not be a better roommate?
- Don’t leave your dirty dishes in the sink. Put them in the dishwasher you just emptied.
- Treat your team to coffee in the morning. Surprise your team with their favorite coffee orders waiting on their desk when they arrive in the morning.
- Pick up after yourself. If you’re at a restaurant or café that doesn’t have a busser, put your dirty dishes in the designated area. Throw away your trash. Be a decent human being.
- Don’t leave your shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot.
- Wear or use a gift in the presence of the gifter. It will make their day knowing you appreciate their kind gift.
- Send an old friend flowers. If they live in another city, brighten their day with a bouquet.
- Give away the books you’ve read. Go through your bookshelves. Pull out any books you no longer want, and donate them to a local library or charity.
- Do what you say you’re going to do. Always keep your word.
- Respond to emails, texts, and phone calls. Don’t ignore your friends and family.
- When someone says hello, say hi back. It’s just plain rude not to.
- Recycle and compost as much as you can. We should be kind to the earth, too!
- Be an active and thoughtful listener. When you ask people how they are, listen intently to their response.
- Leave a generous tip to someone who has done a great job.
- Give more compliments. A simple “I love your dress” can go a long way.
- Buy a sandwich for the homeless person in front of the grocery store.
- Put change in a meter that’s about to expire.
- Forget about a debt that someone owes you. Ask the person who was supposed to pay you back to do the same to someone else in the future.
- Stop complaining. Your positivity will encourage other people to do the same.
- Be present. A kind person is authentic and aware of how their actions can affect people. Be a positive impact rather than a negative one.
- Pay it forward—share this list with the people you care about!
How are you going to show kindness today?