Kindness is a ‘superpower.” It can make others glow with good will. And the absence of it has the power to create distance. To grow in kindness, it’s a great idea to reflect at the end of the day, and jot down any kindnesses you may have shared or those received. You might be surprised the effect this practice could have. Then as an additional exercise, you might also write down the missed opportunities where you could have been kind—or kinder.
To hit any target, we focus our aim. I wonder what amazing things could happen if we decide to practice aiming toward kindness. What magical, transformative things might ensue if we set a goal to explore the possibilities of kindness?
The most exciting thing is that kindness is contagious. Even a small act of graciousness is likely spread to others in a “pay it forward” way. Here’s list of ideas we might consider growing our kindness capacity.
1.) Decide to purposefully increase your awareness of kindness. Be on the look-out for acts of kindness around you. Take notice. You might make a sort of game of it.
2.) Be intentional about showing yourself kindness. It actually becomes easier to offer kindness to others when we first extend it to yourself. When we’re hard on ourselves, it make it more challenging to show mercy to others.
3.) Be kinder to yourself. (Yep! I’m repeating the “be kind to yourself” point. Because it really bears repeating!) Embark on a self-care crusade. This can mean anything from getting more sleep to avoiding negative self-talk. Showing yourself kindness has endless ripple effects.
4.) Practice being appreciative. If someone shows you a kindness, instead of brushing it off or saying “you didn’t need to do that,” just say “thank you.” In doing this, you’ll not only tenderize your own heart but you’ll also maximize the other person's enjoyment - which is another form of kindness.
5.) Look for opportunities to practice being kind. It may be something as simple as giving a genuine compliment or giving your full attention in a conversation. Both are simple gestures of kindness.
6.) Aspire to smile more. Smiling increases positivity within yourself while also cheering others. A genuine smile is one of the best ways to we can show cordiality. And we may never know the ripple effects this tiny act can set in motion.
7.) Consider ways you might show courtesy and goodness to the people closest to you. We often take them for granted - snapping at them, or not fully listening. Whenever you lose your temper, apologize immediately. When someone forgets a task, practice saying, “It’s OK. sometimes I forget stuff too.” You will feel lighter knowing you gave a kindness.
8.) Verbally commend someone for a job well done when the occasion arises. It’s even better to do this in front of those who are most appropriately significant, such as co-workers in an office situation, or family members in the home.
9.) Send a card, flowers, cookies or some thoughtful expression to someone you know who is going through a difficult time that lets them know that you care and are thinking of him or her.
10.) Take a deep breath the next time someone is rude or inconsiderate, Instead of getting defensive, consider what trying situation they might be in. Of course this doesn’t mean being a doormat, but just taking a pause and giving them a pass. We all need passes at one time or another.
11.) Express your gratitude to someone who has made a difference in your life. With a letter or in person, share with them how their kindness, support or a particular gesture affected you and how grateful you are to know or have known them. You can be sure that you will make their day and move them deeply with your act of kindness.
12.) Hide notes of encouragement in your spouse’s or child’s lunch box or in a coat pocket, shoes or other place where he or she will receive this nice little surprise. Try to be specific about something they’ve done.
13.) Declare a moratorium on complaining. You can try it just for one day or set a goal of a week. Perhaps even two or three weeks. You might consider tracking how you become more positive, hopeful and optimistic. Not complaining is a kindness because your positivity will help others to do the same.
14.) Listen to people with interest, concern and compassion, giving them your full attention. It is a truth that all people really want is to be seen and heard.
15.) Bring someone a special treat such as donuts, homemade brownies or cookies. This will brighten their day - and yours!
16.) When at a gathering, try looking for that person struggling with socializing. You’ll feel more fulfilled showing this simple kindness. And you may be surprised what incredible, life-changing conversation you may have with them.
These "kindness" prompts are only the beginning of endless possibilities. Have fun with them! Let's all work toward being a kinder, gentler people, shall we?