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Have you ever had someone make your day and you responded with, “you’re just too kind!” in reference to their act of kindness? Kindness is being friendly, generous and considerate. Kindness is ALWAYS a choice. And, if we’re truly kind, this positive behavior happens freely with no expectations of any kind of outcome. Being kind is a selfless act that flows from love and goodness. Those who are kind by nature experience all of the reciprocation they need right inside themselves. It’s the mere feel-good action that comes from the satisfaction of knowing you’ve caused something positive for someone outside of yourself.
There’s no protocol for kindness in any public gathering places such as school, the workplace, stores or the highway. Allowing others to be the barometer for our own good or bad day happens all too easily. We’ve all experienced levels of anger, bullying and just plain rude behavior. It’s unfortunate when others behave badly and it can impact our wellbeing for the day when it happens. So, how can we strive for more kindness in our world? The good news is—science shows that kindness can be learned. Here are my favorite things to keep in mind:
Know the difference: kind vs. nice.
It’s important to note the difference between being kind and being nice—even though we hear these words used interchangeably. Nice is about what the other person is thinking and feeling—it’s their perception of the situation. Kind is about what you choose to do and why.
Define what kindness means to you personally.
One simple way to project more kindness to others is recollection. Just recall a time in your life when someone gave kindness freely to you when you needed it the most. How did it make you feel and how did it impact your day, week, month or even year? You should strive to help others feel as good or as special as you did at that time.
Remember the basics, such as the golden rule.
The golden rule is a guideline of reciprocity. It’s a philosophy found in many religions and cultures, and, when found in our day-to-day lives, it adds kindness and improves our wellbeing. We learned this in grade school, but even in adulthood, remembering the golden rule can go a long way.
Remember that kindness is a choice. It begins within us, and it’s a great way to begin each day. Going confidently into each day knowing and feeling you are in charge of your mood and mind is an empowering. Exposing others to your kind disposition will influence those around you—from dusk until dawn.
Focus on what you control, such as your own attitude.
Remember that nobody else is the barometer for your experience. Maintaining your positive position makes you an influencer and a teacher to others. We’re all the ages we’ve ever been, so it’s never too late to learn a bit more about how to be kinder to ourselves and to others, at any age.
Be the sunshine, no matter the weather.
All humans are capable of being kind. When others “forget” to be the light that reflects your kind heart, send out warmth and a smile. Send positive thoughts of loving kindness their way. Send good vibes or wish for something good to happen for them. They’ll be exposed to your goodness and example of peace—sunshine is contagious and makes everything brighter.
As we head into Michigan’s colder months, the lack of sunshine and snowfall can hinder our mood. The good news? We can combat “old man winter” with a sunny disposition. It won’t change the weather, but it might change the mood of a family member, coworker, friend or complete stranger. The next time you see someone struggling with wintertime, remember the power of kindness.
Be kind to yourself.
This one’s extremely important to our personal wellbeing. We’re our own best protector and advocate. That’s why we should give ourselves the appropriate amount of time and attention. As a health and wellness coach, I often ask clients, “How will you put yourself on the list of all of your favorite people to take good care of?” and, “What would that look like?” Here is a list I love to share of 40 ways to practice self-kindness.
Resolve to the belief that kindness comes from inside of you. It might be the difference between a bad day and a hopeful one. Both giving and receiving kindness is good for your overall wellbeing. So on World Kindness Day, consider trying one of these random acts of kindness:
- Give an unexpected gift, expect nothing in return
- Donate anonymously to a favorite charity
- Invite someone new to lunch or coffee
- Listen with your heart
- Lend a hand
- Bake cookies and give them away
- Give a compliment
- Forgive mistakes
- Smile at someone new
- Let another go first in line
- Be tolerant
- Give a flower
- Offer a hug
- Make a new friend
If you feel the joy from one of these actions, vow to do one kind act daily for a month. Make it part of your daily routine. The world, and your wellbeing, will only be a better for it.
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