13 ways to Fill Your Life with Kindness

I think anyone would find it hard to argue that in today’s world, we could do with a bit more kindness. Social media culture has fortunately given everyone a voice that can be heard but also allowed a lot of frustrated people to spread negativity and insults while hiding behind the invisible mask of anonymity.  Seems to me like the fast pace of life and the pressure of ever-growing expectations, especially on young people, have resulted in people being less and less conscious about things like kindness. A lot of times, we are so occupied with just getting through the days ourselves that we don’t even notice what’s happening with others or how carelessly we might be treating them.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” -Aesop

I have compiled some things to help you fill your life with kindness; that said, by no means am I saying you should always be perfect and never lose your nerve because that’s impossible, it is for me, at least. Sometimes you might be having a really bad day, or you are just so tired that being consciously kind might be the last thing on your mind but when we do have the strength and mental capacity we can, and should try. The easy thing about kindness is that it’s just like laughter; contagious.

One of the first things everyone can do is rethink one’s word choices when talking to others. Let’s take me for example, I’m a fairly black-and-white person in terms of what I like and dislike because I know myself so well. This sometimes leads to me expressing my opinion so strongly that others might even feel attacked if they are of the opposite opinion on the subject. I’m not saying that we aren’t allowed strong opinions on things but expressing them shouldn’t leave people hurt or feeling small. We shouldn’t please other people at the expense of our comfort, but it’s nothing away from us to soften the word choices and delivery of those words. While on the topic of word choices remember that a simple thank you and please take you far, and well frankly, it’s just good manners.

“Words and magic are two powerful forces that can change the world.” -Amy Neftzger

I know nailing an argument with that perfect checkmate move makes us feel smart and powerful, but sometimes it’s okay to not have the last word. I know sounds crazy, but hear me out. Is it worth it if the road to the end makes both parties upset and exhausted? Is it worth it if nothing improves or is resolved after an arduous conflict? As in everything in life, choose your battles. If you are fighting for something important to you, something that truly matters, then go for it and fight to the bitter end. But if you take a step back, honestly examine the argument and conclude that you don’t really care about whatever it is you are fighting about, or the result won’t change anything, let it go. True strength is sometimes biting one’s tongue and allowing people to live out their truths, even if you disagree with them.

If you do have a passionate and explosive nature, then learning some calming techniques like counting before responding might be a good idea. I’m a big advocate for mediation for everyone, especially those who struggle with anger or impulsiveness. It’s a great way to relax; studies show it can have real health benefits such as reducing stress and lowering blood pressure.

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” -Shannon Alder

Volunteering/Charity seems like a no-brainer but how many actually actively participate in charity? Some people might feel like the word charity is daunting, and they don’t even know where to begin. For some people, charity means putting their lives on hold and travelling to some faraway country to help people in war and other disaster zones, but let’s be honest here, most of us don’t have the time for that. And most of us don’t care that much. Charity doesn’t have to be a soul-giving act of self-sacrifice, in fact, I argue that the most sustainable charity is the kind that doesn’t require self-sacrifice at all. Self-sacrifice usually leads to resentment, and that’s not how you want to feel towards charity. A few tips are as follows:

  • Give only what you can, and you will feel good about giving more often. Be that your time, resources, money or something else.
  • Give to charities you care about. If you dislike kids consider helping a local animal shelter. If you don’t care about humans or animals consider joining an environmental effort in some way. Maybe you are just obsessed with choir music and nothing else matters to you, well there you go then.
  • Giving doesn’t have to mean money. You can also give your time, help organize an event or even just walk the dogs in a local animal shelter. The possibilities for charity work are endless.
  • If you have children, imagine what a character builder it would be to do charity work with them. It also opens up a lot of interesting conversations with youngsters that might be worth having.

Whether you believe in global warming or not we all know there is only one earth that we can call home. Taking care of our homes by recycling, not littering and making conscious choices as consumers is important. The earth gives us so many benefits; air, shelter, food, water, and warmth. We shouldn’t forget that with the privilege of living on this planet comes also the responsibility to care for it. You don’t have to go to extremes or start making decisions that feel painful. It’s enough to examine those daily habits that you repeat year after year and figure out how changing or tweaking some of those things can make the most difference to the planet.

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

A super fun act of kindness is to share food or sweets with others. There is something primal and comforting about sharing food. People have always gathered together for meals throughout human history in all cultures. People gather around fires and tables to eat together because there is something so satisfying about sharing food. Consider bringing candy or other treats to your school or workplace to share with everyone but don’t feel like you need to make this a habit, once every blue moon is more than enough. Perhaps you can start organizing dinner parties or simply have a meal together as a family once a week if that’s all you can manage.

If you find yourself angry or irritated for whatever reason and you end up snapping at people just apologize and explain. Most people are so wrapped in their anger at the moment, or alternatively, they are so ashamed of their angry behaviour that apologizing can feel impossible. After all, when we apologize, we open ourselves up potentially for more hurt. the act of apologizing means becoming vulnerable at that moment, which can be scary. What if your apology is not accepted? What if the other person sees this as a weakness and tries to use it against you? In all honesty, that is a possibility if you are dealing with someone very fearful or cruel, but hands down, most people welcome an apology. for example, if you are hungry and treating someone badly because of that hunger, apologize and explain. Literally, explain that you were a bitch because you are hungry and say sorry. It’s extremely likely that the other person will feel much better and maybe even laugh out of relief. You’d be surprised how understanding people can be when offered a simple apology and a reason.

If you notice someone lonely in your school or workplace, invite them into your group. There is nothing worse than wanting to belong yet feeling like an outsider, and if you ever felt that way in any situation yourself, then it should be easy to empathize with this one.

“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike” -J.K. Rowling

If you live with someone, help them with something that’s important to them, but here’s the catch; do it without them having to ask you. This way of helping you not only gift the other person a happy surprise, but you also help reinforce their dignity. With your spontaneous actions, you are saying to the other person, ‘I see what you need, and I care,’ as well as ‘You are worth helping’. And the thing is that it doesn’t have to be a huge sacrifice on your part. It can be as simple as helping your spouse clean or helping a younger sibling finish homework.

One of my pet peeves is when men tell me to smile. I absolutely hate it, but neutrally examined, a smile does hold tremendous power. Smile is a universal language, and almost every culture on the planet considers a smile a sign of happiness and goodwill. So smile at a stranger. I don’t mean to force a smile when you don’t feel like it, but when you can manage just smile.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Giving a random compliment goes perfectly with a smile. They are both free yet often have a huge impact on someone’s day. I sometimes compliment people I don’t know if I think their outfit is on point or playfully congratulate them on a good book choice if they happen to be reading one of my favourites. The potential amount of happiness you can not only give someone in the form of a compliment but also feel yourself because you gave that compliment is very powerful.

When was the last time you sent a nice text message to someone you care about? Let them know you appreciate them without any particular reason. This might be received with wonder and awkward laughs, but trust me, deep down, this makes people feel so warm and loved no matter what their reaction is.

Play more with your pet. However much you give attention to your pet, I guarantee they would be happy to receive more. Our pets are our responsibility, which means so much more than just feeding them and providing a roof over their heads. Pets are not like grown humans who are responsible for their own feelings and emotions; pets actually rely on us to give their life fulfilment. And it falls upon us to entertain them. So next time you have a few extra minutes consider spending them playing with your pet. 

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” -Wendy Mass

If you’re not naturally a great listener then focus more on cultivating that aspect of yourself. Sometimes people don’t need your opinions or solutions; sometimes, they just need a keen ear and a warm hug. You have an opportunity to be that relief for them.

Just like referred to in the Merchant of Venice, the quote “my word is my bond” still holds true today, so make sure you do not give your word lightly and when you do, keep it. Being reliable builds trust and reinforces your bond with others, but it also makes you perceive yourself as someone to be proud of, someone with integrity.

Lastly, make time for yourself. Filling your life with kindness isn’t just about giving to others; it’s also about taking care of yourself. You are the main character of your life and need TLC just like everyone else. Maybe spend more time in nature. It’s strange how calming and grounding nature’s effect on us is. Or organize a spa evening for yourself, even if it’s just at home alone. If you have a hard time justifying the time and care spent on yourself, think about the following: The better you feel about yourself, the more space you have within you to be kind to others.                        

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