As we all zoom around from place to place, trying to make our mark on the world, and work toward our vision of success, it is very easy to fall into the black hole of our own existence. Although the world is more linked than it has ever been, people are becoming less connected to each other. Communication has been decreased to what we can say in 140 characters or less. If you find you are more comfortable having a conversation by text than face-to-face, it’s time to take a technology break and get back into the real world. By being more connected as human beings, we will build our “kindness skills”. Here are some simple things you can do to become a kinder person:
1. Pay for the person behind you in a drive-thru or at a coffee shop.
It not only makes the person receiving the free food or coffee feel special, it also brings the cashier into the kindness loop by being the bearer of good news.
2. Instead of getting defensive or angry the next time someone is rude or inconsiderate to you, express compassion for their situation.
You never know what others are going through. In his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey tells this story:
One Sunday morning on the New York subway, people were sitting quietly reading newspapers, lost in thought, or sitting with their eyes closed and resting. It was very peaceful. Then a man and his children entered. The children were so loud and rambunctious the entire climate changed.
The man sat there with his eyes closed, oblivious to the situation, as his children were throwing things, knocking people’s newspapers, and yelling. Everyone became irritated quickly. Still the man did nothing.
I couldn’t believe he could be so insensitive to let his children run around like that and do nothing. Finally, I turned to him and said, “Sir, your children are really disturbing everyone. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?”
The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly, “Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”
3. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Let them know that you have been thinking about them and that you’re sorry you haven’t been in touch.
4. Leave small gifts for strangers in random places.
On a rainy day leave an umbrella at a bus stop, or leave coupons scattered around the grocery store for others to find.
5. Shop for someone who is homebound or ill.
Even if your neighbor isn’t homebound, when you’re running to the store, ask if they need anything, especially if the weather is bad.
6. Let someone into traffic who looks like they are in a rush.
Even if they don’t look like they’re in a rush, let them in anyway.
7. Donate your used books or magazines to your local library.
8. Praise someone at work for doing a good job.
To make it even more meaningful, do it in front of others, especially the boss.
9. Offer help to an elderly or handicapped person struggling with something at the grocery store.
So many people treat the elderly or handicapped as if they are invisible. Acknowledge them, get an item off a high shelf, smile, and offer some small talk.
10. When you finish mowing your lawn, mow your neighbor’s lawn.
11. Leave money in a public place for someone to find.
Don’t just drop a few pennies. Leave a five or ten dollar bill. Don’t think about where the money will be spent, it is about spreading kindness, not controlling how your kindness is used.
12. Stick up for someone who is being wrongly treated or bullied.
13. Make amends with someone you have wronged.
Be genuine with your apology. Even if you feel you did nothing wrong, apologize anyway. It’s not about being “right”; it is about the other person’s perception of the situation.
14. Give a homeless person food and/or gift card to a restaurant.
Most people don’t feel comfortable giving homeless people money due to concerns over whether the money will be spent on drugs. Giving a gift card to a restaurant close by not only gives the person food to eat, but the dignity of choosing what they want to eat.
15. Leave a treat for your mail carrier in your mailbox.
On a hot day, freeze a bottle of water and leave it in your box with a note. By the time your mail is delivered, the ice will have melted into a cold, refreshing drink.
16. If you walk by an expired parking meter, put a quarter in it.
You will save someone from walking out to a parking ticket. You could also put a quarter in the meter before you leave, if you see someone is waiting for your spot.
17. Be an active listener.
When someone is talking to you, instead of thinking of what you will say next, really listen to what they are saying.
18. Let someone go ahead of you in line.
(especially if they only have a few items or it’s a mom with young kids)
19. Have good manners.
Say “please”, “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, and “excuse me”. When people are treated with respect, they will respond in kind.
20. Go a week without using sarcasm.
This is tougher than it sounds. Although we have no ill intent when we use sarcasm, it does breed negativity.
21. Volunteer your time to a charity.
Giving money is helpful, but giving your time requires taking a personal interest.
22. Send a card or flowers to someone going through a tough time.
22. Talk to a shy person who is sitting alone at a party.
23. Plant trees or flowers in a neglected area of your neighborhood.
24. Greet people with a smile and an enthusiastic hello.
When you begin with kindness, it sets the tone for the encounter.
25. Know the names of people you encounter every day.
Everyone is important and should be treated with respect. “Shop Girl” and “Grocery Dude” are not their real names.
26. Sincerely compliment someone every day.
If you don’t know the person, the compliment will go farther. We expect the people we know to say nice things, but when a stranger says that our hair looks nice, we tend to believe it more.
27. When you receive good service, tell the person’s manager or boss.
Take it a step further by leaving a positive comment on the company’s website or other sites, such as Yelp. Remember to mention the person by name.
28. Acknowledge people when they walk into the room.
This is especially important to do with your children. It only takes a moment to stop whatever you’re doing to say, “Hello”. It shows the person that they are important to you.
29. Always keep your word.
When you are late or don’t follow through with something you said you would do, it sends the message that you don’t care.
30. Take the time to leave a nice comment on a blog you enjoyed.
It only takes a moment and we really, really appreciate it! :)
31. Organize a carpool.
Carpools are not just for soccer moms. Carpool for work, a night out with friends, or for a road trip. Not only is it good for the environment, it’s more fun.
32. Leave a newspaper or magazine for someone else when you’re finished.
If you’re reading at the coffee shop, doctor’s office, or on a plane, leave reading material for someone else to enjoy.
33. Give up complaining for 21 days.
Visit A Complaint Free World for more information on this movement.
34. Leave kind notes for people.
Put small love notes in random places for your loved ones to find, or “Good job!” notes on someone’s desk at work.
35. Teach your children to be giving.
Gather any toys they’ve outgrown, and go together to donate them to children in need. Let them see how their actions positively affect other people.
36. Help a friend in need.
It’s sometimes difficult to ask for help when we really need it. If your friend is going through a divorce and struggling with finances, bring groceries to her house. She may be too proud to accept money, but won’t be able to turn away something you put time and effort to do for her.
37. Ask people what they need.
Some situations are difficult to know how to handle, such as death or illness. When someone you know is dealing with a catastrophic life event, ask what they need, and let them know you are there for them. What we may think is helpful, may cause someone else more stress.
38. Use less plastic or none at all because it’s kind to the environment.
39. Write thank you notes.
When someone has done something nice for you, take the time to write them a proper thank you note, and mail it to them. Not only is it good manners, people enjoy finding something other than bills in their mailbox.
40. Be forgiving.
This not only applies to someone who has wronged you, but also when you have done something wrong. Forgiving yourself is the kindest thing you can do for yourself.
41. Be kind to someone you dislike.
You don’t have to be kind to someone because they are a good person. Be kind to them because you are a good person.
42. Donate blood.
43. Help someone who is broken down on the side of the road.
44. Donate your expertise to someone in need.
Lawyers are not the only people who can do pro bono work.
45. Tolerate a loved one’s behavior a little more than usual.
If you know your husband isn’t a morning person, don’t get upset when he’s grouchy.
46. Adopt a pet that needs rescuing.
47. Help a new co-worker.
48. Help elderly neighbors and relatives maintain their homes.
Do small repairs and chores that are difficult for the elderly to do for themselves.
49. Mentor someone who needs support.
Volunteer to tutor at your child’s school or take a young person joining the workforce under your wing.
50. Take a moment to help someone who is lost, even if you’re in a rush.
51. Help a mother with a baby stroller.
Hold the door or help her carry it up the stairs.
52. Bring coffee to your assistant.
53. Write a letter to a child who needs extra attention.
Children love getting mail.
54. Put your cart away when you’re done shopping.
55. Call or write a teacher who changed your life.
56. Help a friend move.
57. Forgive a debt and never bring it up again.
Also, when you give someone money, give it with no strings attached.
58. Throw away your trash, and someone else’s, after a movie, picnic or visit to a park.
59. Volunteer to take care of a friend or neighbor’s pet when they go on vacation.
60. Offer to babysit for a single mother.
61. Start a neighborhood garden.
This is an excellent project with multiple facets of kindness. It will bring your neighbors closer, provide healthy food, and helps the environment.
62. Shop at local businesses.
Support your community. More of your money will stay closer to home: supporting the parks, recreational centers, libraries, and other things that make your community great.
63. Pick up clothes in a department store that others have dropped.
64. Volunteer at a food bank.
Help prepare and deliver food to those in need.
65. Adopt a soldier.
Send letters and packages to provide support to the brave men and women who protect your country.
66. Give blankets and coats to the homeless.
67. Have a “kindness” competition.
Start a competition with a group of friends to see who can commit the most acts of kindness in a month. (Everyone wins!)
68. Say hello and give a smile to a passersby, even if you don’t know them.
69. Give an inspirational book to someone who needs uplifting.
70. Be kinder to yourself by embarking on a self-care campaign.
You must take care of yourself to be able to care for others.
71. Throw someone a surprise party.
72. Invite someone new to your house for dinner.
Whether it’s a co-worker or new neighbor, expanding your circle of friends is always a kind thing to do.
73. Give a child a balloon.
74. Be grateful for everything you have.
By having an attitude of gratitude, you will have an overall better disposition.
75. Out of the blue send flowers to your friend.
76. When you’re on a crowded train or bus, offer your seat to an elderly person or pregnant woman.
77. Bring a treat for everyone in your office.
Place a fruit tray or basket in the break room for everyone to enjoy.
78. Tell someone you love that you love them.
79. Give your spouse or significant other a foot massage… without expecting anything in return.
80. After you shovel snow off your driveway, shovel your neighbor’s driveway.
81. Enter someone in a competition who you think deserves the recognition, such as “Teacher of the Year”.
82. Volunteer at a senior center.
83. Give a presentation on your occupation or an area of interest to a classroom of students.
84. Mentor an at-risk child or teenager by becoming a big brother or big sister.
85. Help someone you know who is looking for a job.
Write a referral or help them network.
86. Donate stuffed animals to police and fire departments.
They use them during emergencies to help calm frightened children.
87. Donate items to emergency pet hospitals, such as blankets and towels.
88. Learn CPR. You could end up saving someone’s life.
89. Help a friend or neighbor who is caring for an aging parent.
People think of babysitting to give new parents a break, but rarely think of people who have an elderly parent living with them.
90. Grow your hair long and donate it to Locks of Love.
91. When you buy new clothes, donate your old ones.
92. Have integrity.
Integrity is doing the right thing when no one else is looking.
93. Have an abundance mentality… live a selfless life.
94. Accept other’s kindness.
Some people are great with helping others, but have problems accepting help or kindness from other people. This is a selfish way of existing and breaks the cycle of kindness.
95. Be patient.
Everyone’s lives are very busy, but being impatient isn’t going to make the line go faster, the red light change, or remove cars from traffic.
96. Bring a care package to a sick friend or someone in the hospital.
97. Re-direct gifts.
On special occasions have people donate to charities in lieu of giving you gifts.
98. Use GoodSearch as your internet browser.
Money is donated to the charity of your choice with every search.
99. Be a philanthropist.
100. Be cooperative.
When your client or boss asks you to go the extra mile, follow through with enthusiasm instead of animosity.
101. Resolve to live an authentic life.
Keep it real. No one appreciates a fake or phony person. It is off-putting, and closes people out instead of letting them in to know the real you.
Most people are not intentionally trying to be assholes. Give others the benefit of the doubt, and if you still can’t seem to get through, kill them with kindness. By committing random acts of kindness, we create a tangible flow of positive and loving energy. As we learned in physics, energy never dies, it transfers. Stop to think about that before deciding whether you are going to perpetuate never-ending negativity or generate a cycle of on-going kindheartedness.