Some might call me naive, but I’ve always believed human beings are fundamentally good.
I think the world is full of kindness.
Sometimes it hides in the most unassuming places. But even the smallest and simplest act of kindness can have a big impact.
Here are 9 ways we can all easily spread more kindness in the world.
1) Send someone a card or a letter
Clearly I’m an old romantic, but there’s something so moving about receiving a letter.
I think it’s something about the time and attention it takes.
It makes you feel special.
There’s undeniably more care in a handwritten note than getting a text.
You could write your other half a letter telling them how you feel and everything you like most about them.
You could make someone’s day and send them a card or letter in the post. But even little notes left around for someone to find can be a real mood boost.
For example, leaving a little post-it note on your flatmate’s bedroom door wishing them a wonderful day.
Letters are personal and tangible, which is exactly why they can mean so much to the recipient.
2) Ask someone how they are
Take time to talk to people.
Giving someone our undivided attention is a pure form of kindness.
Ask someone today how they are. Then ask again, no really? how are things?
Never underestimate the power of listening to someone’s problems. Allowing someone to feel heard is a simple yet powerful form of kindness.
Often a sympathetic ear is all we need to feel better. This is how we can show someone our support.
Just talking things through helps people to release the tension they would otherwise keep locked inside.
Technology means that in many ways we’re more connected than ever. But the reality is that behind the scenes many people are struggling.
That’s why a simple act of kindness is to ask someone how they are feeling.
3) Practice self-love
There is something very important we all need to remember:
Kindness starts with you.
But it’s so easy to forget that and neglect yourself.
Whatsmore, rather than treat ourselves with kindness, we can be downright cruel.
Often we speak to ourselves in ways we would never speak to someone else.
We tell ourselves unkind things. We chastise ourselves for our perceived faults and flaws.
Being kind to yourself is ironically one of the kindest things you can put out to the world.
Because the happier, healthier, and more content you feel — you’re passing that positive energy out to people around you.
Here are some simple ways to show yourself more kindness:
- Be mindful of negative self-talk.
- Celebrate your successes and small wins.
- Make time for self-care.
In short, don’t forget to fill your own cup before you do other people’s.
4) Pay it forward in little ways
It’s true that kindness is contagious, and scientists have proven it.
As bestselling author and kindness scientist Dr. David R Hamilton explains, it’s actually really simple:
“If someone does something kind for you, you feel better and are more likely to help out someone else. So that person’s kindness has been contagious in that it has infected you. Similarly, each time you do something kind for anyone, whether it’s a family member, friend or a stranger, your kindness is also contagious.
“Please know that it doesn’t stop with that person. As you go about the rest of your day, repercussions of your kind behaviour continue to ripple on, just as a pebble dropped in a pond creates waves that lift a lily pad at the other side of the pond.”
The idea of paying it forward takes this principle of passing kindness on.
Here are some ways you can try it:
- Go out of your way to say “hi” and smile at the person next to you in the elevator, or that you pass on the street.
- Bring cookies into work for your colleagues.
- Let someone in front of you in the queue at the check-out.
- Treat the person in line behind you at the coffee shop to their drink.
- Pay the bridge toll for the card behind as well.
5) Stop in on an elderly neighbor
In fact, this act of kindness is about reaching out to more isolated members of society in general.
Isolation can be absolutely crushing when it comes to mental health.
We’ve talked about checking in on loved ones to see how they are, but what about strangers too?
You might call on an elderly neighbor and see if there’s anything they need.
You could stop to chat with a homeless person, rather than just pass them by on the street.
You might even want to volunteer with a group that specifically does outreach to support people who are more vulnerable when it comes to loneliness and isolation.
Because as the next act on our list hopefully will highlight, your time is just as valuable as your money.
6) Give your time, not money
We live in a materialistic world. And it can give us a skewed vision of what giving is.
It’s hard to avoid this feeling sometimes. But the truth is that there are so many ways to give back without spending a dime.
Volunteering your time, or simply offering to help someone out is a powerful way to show you care.
That could mean finding a cause that means something to you and becoming a volunteer.
It could mean campaigning or lobbying. Or it can mean offering to help out a friend or family member with a small task or chore.
You can offer your skills, your effort, and your time to others to be kind.
7) Take more self-responsibility
This might sound like a weird one at first. What’s self-responsibility got to do with kindness?
But I actually think we would all be kinder if we took more self-responsibility.
You see, it’s easy to blame others for things.
But when we do, we not only deflect the problem away from us, we inadvertently deflect the solution too.
Imagine if we all saw ourselves as the solution.
If we held our own words and actions to account more it would have a positive change in the world. And that would have a ripple effect.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi:
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change toward him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
8) Offer praise generously
Compliments are kindness in word form.
Positive feedback makes people happy. It offers a boost and can be a real motivator.
If you appreciate someone, be sure to let them know. Say thank you and show your gratitude for what they’ve done.
As highlighted in the Harvard Business Review:
“Gratitude makes people feel valued, and positive feedback has been shown to mitigate the negative effects of stress on employee performance. Neuroscientists have even shown that the brain processes verbal affirmations similarly to financial rewards.”
Compliments may cost nothing, but we shouldn’t undervalue them.
9) Take care of the planet
It’s not just people who need our kindness.
Our planet and all the other non-human species that live here with us need it too.
That’s why our simple acts of kindness could and should extend to Mother Earth.
Here are a few ideas to show the planet some kindness:
- Pick up litter at your local beach, park, or in your community.
- Reduce your meat and seafood consumption.
- Avoid fast fashion and try to shop more mindfully and sustainably.
- Educate yourself on environmental issues.
- Try to avoid disposable single-use objects like plastic bags and disposable coffee cups.