After many, many interactions with other humans in life [for better or for worse] I often reflect on how to best define “kindness,” the impact it has had in my life, and why I am obsessed with it. I am a firm believer that kindness is not weakness or naivete; it is a humble expression of the strength and maturity that one possesses to treat another, or oneself, with humanity.
Kindness, very simply put, is taking the time to recognize the humanity in the person whom you are interacting with. It is the realization that the person standing in front of you, on the phone, or on the other side of that computer screen, has their own unique experiences that impact their perspectives, beliefs, and the very interaction that which you are having with them. They also have their own set of stressors that they are dealing with on the day-to-day, believe it or not, just like you! Whether it is through verbal or non verbal communication, kindness in everyday interactions has the power to make a significant positive impact.
Top five ways to incorporate kindness into your day-to-day life:
- Acknowledge another person’s presence. Be present in your interactions. Give the rightful attention to the person that is in front of you. Whether it be with a smile at the person getting on the same elevator or a simple “good morning” to the barista before you bark your coffee order, take the time to recognize that there is another person in your presence.
- Express gratitude to someone that which you interact with often. This doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. All it takes is a “Hey, I really appreciate your [continued support, friendly greeting, positive attitude] that you bring to the [office, gym, classroom] everyday. Extra points if you write it out on a post-it note or note card.
- Use your manners. I know, I know. Really Julia? Yes. Really. If I had a dollar for every time someone has commented on the fact that I say “please” and “thank you,” and use kind language in my day-to-day interactions, I would be a very rich lady. Simple phrases like “thanks so much” or “yes, please, I would love whipped cream on that hazelnut macchiato” are quick, friendly, and express a genuine amount of gratitude instead of just a “thanks.” It’s not about a phrase that you tack on to the end of an interaction because it is a social expectation, it’s about actually expressing your gratitude for an action or deed that someone did or is going to do.
- Do one thing for your future-self that will make you smile. Don’t forget to include yourself in this outpouring of kindness. Think of one thing you can do to make your future self smile. Setting your coffee pot the night before to wake up to a fresh cup? Making your bed each morning to be able to crawl into that cozy, perfectly tucked pocket of goodness when you’re exhausted at the end of the day?
- Let someone know you’re thinking about them. Dropping a quick note into someone’s mailbox or inbox can go a long way to maintaining a connection. You do not have to commit to an entire 5 hour conversation or even any message exchange at all. A brief “Just thinking about you,” heart emoji, “Hey man this made me think of you, miss you,” can go a long way.