It’s easy to see unkindness in the world: in wars, the rhetoric of politicians, and more personally in the nasty comments we so often see online, on Twitter, and other places where people can anonymously let loose their hatefulness. Kindness is much quieter. It doesn’t demand attention, it doesn’t get in your face, and even though it’s sometimes anonymous, the feeling it leaves behind is happiness, not misery (or at least the desire to take a very hot shower).
Kindness is today’s 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge prompt, and this Thursday, Nov. 13, is World Kindness Day so kindness is on my mind. Even though I really value kindness and aspire to be kind, I’m not always aware of what I can do to spread kindness. After a little thought and some quick internet research, I found quite a few simple, inexpensive suggestions I can follow to create some ripples and make the world a kinder place. Here are 10 of my favorites:
1. Smile and look into the eyes of the grocery store cashier.
2. Pick up trash.
3. If you regularly visit a blog and enjoy it, leave a comment. A simple, “enjoyed your post,” is all you need. (Bloggers appreciate kindness the way resurrection ferns appreciate rain.)
4. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Remember the words of the Egyptian philosopher Philo, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
5. Allow someone to go in front of you, in traffic or in line.
6. Share a store coupon. Some stores offer coupons for X amount of dollars off a minimum purchase. If you’re not going to use yours, find someone in line who looks like he or she has enough merchandise to meet the minimum amount necessary. (This suggestion came from my kind mother-in-law.)
7. Write a note (or send a post card), by hand, add a stamp and mail it. It will make someone’s day to receive “real” mail rather than junk or bills.
8. Donate old towels to an animal shelter or rescue.
9. Pay a toll or buy a cup of coffee for the person behind you.
10. Think before you speak. Even so-called “jokes” can hurt someone who is sensitive.
And don’t forget to be kind to yourself. It’s a lot easier to be kind to others when you practice on yourself!
I’m encouraged to see that there are more and more organizations devoted to promoting kindness, including The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, One Million Acts of Kindness and Choose to Be Nice. Perhaps one day the kind people will outnumber the trolls and meanies.