Want to contribute more kindness in the world? Try one of these simple kind acts today
CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Happiful
We can’t always know what’s going on inside someone’s head, but we can take responsibility for our actions and make sure that we’re as kind as we possibly can be to those around us.
It’s important to note that kindness isn’t the same as being ‘soft’ or ‘fluffy’. It’s about showing compassion, and there are, perhaps, an infinite number of ways that we can be compassionate, or show empathy, towards other people.
Research shows that helping others can be beneficial to our mental health. It can reduce stress, improve our emotional wellbeing and even benefit our physical health. “We all have so much going on in our lives, lots of strains and stresses, and we are currently living in a combative political atmosphere,” says Mark Rowland, CEO of the Mental Health Foundation. “Being kind can get pushed to one side in favour of what is urgent or what is trending now. But taking time to be kind to other people can make you feel good, help reduce stress and be beneficial for your own emotional wellbeing.”
Here, we explore some simple ways to exhibit kindness in various areas of your life – with your loved ones, with your colleagues, in public spaces and, perhaps most importantly, with yourself.
Be kind to your loved ones
Time can pass us by faster than we’d like; life is busy and there always seems to be something that tops the never-ending to-do list. But, sometimes, you have to put life’s chores to one side.
Make time to call or text a friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while, or check in on someone you know who’s going through a tough time.
Post a card or letter to a loved one – a handwritten one always feels that little bit more special. It doesn’t have to say anything in particular; just letting them know that you love them, and are thinking of them, is a simple and kind gesture.
Maybe you know someone with young children who could do with some time out. It can be easy to say, “Let me know if ever want me to babysit”, but wouldn’t it be lovely to offer a specific day or time? Allow your loved one to have an hour or two to themselves.
Tell your family members how much you love and appreciate them. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it with words, show kindness in your actions. Help with household chores, offer to make dinner or treat someone.
Show kindness at work
We spend much of our days at work, so it’s time to get compassionate with those who work with (or for) us.
Make a special effort to get to know a new member of staff. Remember what it felt like to be the new person.
Make an effort to say ‘Hello’ to your colleagues and ask how they are. Offer to make a drink, or lend a listening ear to a colleague who’s having a bad day.
Of course, it’s not all about offering support. Saying ‘Thank you’ to a colleague who has helped you, or offering praise to someone who has done something well, can be just as important.
Learn how to spot the signs of mental illness and become a mental health first aider. The importance of this course does not lie in providing a diagnosis but in teaching you to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis.
Acts of kindness in public places
Our friends, family and colleagues can, and perhaps should, be our main priority when it comes to showing kindness – but we mustn’t forget our impact on the world around us.
Smile. It might seem silly, but don’t underestimate the power of smiling at a stranger.
Be observant and offer help where you can. If you see someone struggling to reach the top shelf in a supermarket, be that helping hand. If you see a parent struggling to carry a pushchair down some stairs, be that extra pair of hands.
If you see some rubbish lying around in the street, do the right thing and pick it up.
Be kind to yourself
One area of your life where you should not underestimate the importance of being kind is with yourself. Self-compassion is a vital component of self-care, so prioritise some ‘me-time’ in your routine. This is important to help you relax and reflect on day-to-day life and it is especially important if you’re feeling stressed, or burnt out, for a prolonged period.
It’s important to remember that self-care is whatever you feel you need – it’s different for each of us. For you, it might be yoga or meditation, or listening to a favourite song, or spending some time in nature.
Stop engaging with things that don’t bring you joy. Are there certain TV programmes or newspapers that fill you with dread? Are there social media accounts that leave you feeling bad about yourself? Stop watching it, stop reading it, stop following it – enough is enough.
Instead, fill your online world with acts of digital kindness. Follow things that make you happy and good about yourself and do your bit by tweeting a message of love or support to a stranger.
These may sound like small, simple acts, but this is exactly how change happens. Keep going, keep sharing and let’s create the kinder world that we want to live in.