6 Ways to Show Kindness
Why Show Kindness
Not surprisingly the bible refers to ‘the milk of human kindness’ and it really is like milk. There is something about kindness that nourishes the spirit and enables people to grow. It provides sustenance, which is especially important when people feel down or hurt. Also it is free – not only does it not cost the giver it actually does good for them too! So here are some ideas for ways you can give away some kindness today as you simply go about your day to day business.
This has to be one of the simplest ways to show kindness. I am talking here about a genuine smile, a smile that comes from the well of kindness inside, not just turning up the corners of your mouth. For some people your smile might be the highlight of their day. Even tiny babies respond differently to a depiction of a face that is smiling than they do to one which looks sad. I’m not suggesting that you grin inanely at everyone but if you are in a shop or a café try smiling at the server – even before they greet you. When served, thank them, it might be their job to serve you but a smile doesn’t cost you and it may really brighten their day. You might not have an Oscar in your hand but you can still smile!
It’s an old adage but I remember my parents telling me that if I couldn’t think of anything nice to say I was better just keeping quiet. Generally that’s good advice. A kind word though, saying something nice, does go a long way to just smoothing the contact we have with others. I’m not suggesting you direct these comments to complete strangers on the street – though sometimes that can be ok - but start by giving kind words to people you have contact with, perhaps other folk who work at the same place, or colleagues, try just saying something nice. It could be a compliment, as a woman it’s easy to comment on a piece of jewellery for example, or some work they have done – it’s not too personal but it’s nice to receive. Or even just give a positive statement – aren’t we lucky having such great weather at the moment. It’s so easy, especially in work situations to get a culture of negativity but some well-chosen kind and positive words can begin to change that culture.
We are lucky to be blessed with a whole array of verbal and non-verbal communication skills. So if you see a situation where maybe you can’t help you can still show empathy. A look can convey so many words. I was with my sister who has disabilities recently and she was chatting away while I went to get her a refill of coffee. When I returned to the table the gentleman just gave me a look – it was probably a smile but in that look he managed to convey that he’d been listening to her chatting and watching out for her and he UNDERSTOOD. It gladdened my heart. It was a very real human communication though not a word was spoken. I tried to give the same the other day when a young mum was struggling with the arched back of her toddler as she tried to put him in the buggy. Every parent has been there and I tried to convey that in a look – she obviously ‘got it’ and said – ‘I guess it passes’ to which I replied ‘Oh yes and sooner than you’d think’. It was a brief interaction but I think we both felt better because in the middle of the day we had somehow shared a moment of empathy.
I am sometimes amazed at the way humans will watch others struggling when just a little help would go a long way. So next time you see a mum (or dad) struggling up stairs with a buggy – or someone going in the same direction with several heavy bags, or someone struggling through a door with their arms full, simply offer to help. In my experience people are grateful, surprised - because we seem somehow to have lost a spirit of courtesy and kindness - but grateful. Once you start being alert to ways you can help others, without disrupting your own day to any great extent, you will find that you notice more and you will also find that it feels good for you too. There may be the odd rebuff and that’s ok – sometimes people have their own reasons for turning down offers of help but don’t let it put you off offering again and don’t let it upset you. It’s easy to judge others but very often they have a reason for behaving as they do.
Nowadays with mobile phones and the internet it’s easy to stay in touch and let folk know you are thinking of them. So when a friend is having to deal with something difficult it is easy to send a quick text just to let them know you are thinking of them. I know I really enjoy receiving such texts or emails and it feels supportive to know while you might be physically alone others have you in their thoughts.
I like to think I save this for special occasions but let’s be clear kindness is a superpower. So when someone is being really difficult - try being kind. Honestly it is like a superpower. It’s so easy to start to get angry but next time try some kindness. Recently I went to a restaurant and despite being polite and smiley the waiter was plain grumpy all the way through and delivered one meal ages after the others. So as we were given the bill I said to him that often I would complain but obviously he was not happy and maybe had some problems I didn’t know about – and he deducted the price of the late meal AND was very apologetic. I may have got the same result if I got cross but actually that would have ruined the whole evening for me. It’s seems to me it’s so much better to be kind and give the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know about you but I do I know there are lots of times when I have needed that
I guess it’s easy for all of us to think about being kind and showing kindness when we are having a good day, when we are felling happy and things are going well. But actually if you practice kindness each day you will find that it becomes natural even on the bad days the days when it would be so easy to be grumpy or angry or aggressive. Kindness isn’t weakness it’s a show of one of our greatest human strengths. So go on show some kindness and encourage others to do the same.