So often when we think of being kind, we think of BIG things: donating your lotto winnings to charity, quitting your job to join the peace corps, giving all of your savings to a family in need. This kind of thinking can be paralyzing, and even a bit of a roadblock for those of us who are ready to start living a little less selfishly. My mom (who happens to be one of the kindest people I know) always taught me to start small when it comes to kindness. Turns out there are little opportunities to be kind to others that happen every single day — the key is just to recognize them. Personally, I’m ready to make the change. Because when we’re truly thinking of others, it’s physically impossible to be worrying about ourselves. And doesn’t that sound refreshing?
Send a “just because” email.
Does it ever feel like you only hear from people when they want something from you? If so, you’re not alone — this seems to be an unfortunate side effect of living in the digital era. Why not shoot an old friend from college an email or text just to say you’re thinking about them? You could ask to see recent pics of their baby/new house/boyfriend, etc. It takes two seconds and keeps you connected to the people you care about.
Give your pet some extra love.
Pets are wonderful because they’re so easy to please — turn off the tv for a minute and just focus on giving your cat or dog the best scratch of his life for a few minutes. You’ll be amazed at how happy it will make you both feel.
Look for ways to use your gifts to help others.
You don’t have to be a full-time philanthropist to find ways to give back. Use what you’re naturally good at to help others. Great in the kitchen? Drop off a meal for a friend with a newborn. Good at graphic design? Offer to help someone with their business cards or party invitation. Love to work out? Invite your friend who is trying to loose weight to walk or jog the trail with you.
It’s a cliché for a reason — smiling works. When you make eye contact with and genuinely smile at the people you see every day (the front desk girl, the UPS guy, waiters, the employees at Starbucks) you’re showing them respect by connecting with them on a human level. Try it. Life is SO much better when we’re smiling!
Be a better listener.
There’s a great quote by Stephen R. Covey that goes something like this:
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.”
When someone else is telling a story or anecdote, keep your mind on actively listening. Give that person the floor, let them finish. Don’t launch into your bit until you’ve taken a moment or two to digest their idea.
Offer to babysit.
She may still say no, but your friend/sister-in-law/coworker will always appreciate the offer. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and too often in today’s world moms can feel isolated and without support. I get it — a Friday night seems like a big sacrifice — but trust me when I say it’s good to “pay it forward” on this one.
Show it on social.
We live in an era where many of us feel constant pressure to self-promote on social media. It’s good to give yourself the occasional break from… well, yourself. Log in to instagram or facebook with the sole mission of supporting someone else. Share one of their projects on your feed, post a pretty photo of your best friend, or simply leave a kind comment on one of their posts. Then log out. Done.
Give a no-strings-attached massage.
Touch is probably one of the most undervalued aspects of our daily lives. There’s no easier way to show someone you love them than through affectionate touch. Offer your significant other a no-strings-attached massage (they don’t “owe you one” when it’s over) and really lose yourself in the act of providing them relaxation. You may find that it’s actually relaxing for you, as well. (And check out our tips on how to give a great massage here!)