I was recently talking with a group of Melbourne ladies up in Sydney for a girls weekend and they were having a wonderful day at The Rocks Markets, not just because of the shopping but also because all the stall holders had been welcoming and kind to them. As far as they were concerned Sydney was a friendly and fun place to visit, all because they'd had such positive encounters with the locals.
It got me thinking how simple it is for the kindness of strangers to make just a wonderful impact on others and how often we forget that it's really that simple.
So here are 12 easy ways to have kindness as part of your everyday life to give joy:
1. Texting, emailing, calling, sending a handwritten note to a friend saying you're thinking of them - whether this is in good times or hard times, it is always lovely to know you're in another's thoughts and they're taking the time to let you know. In relationships this can be made into a romantic gesture as well as with a note slipped into a bag, coat, wallet etc that is there as a kind little surprise message of appreciation and love. These simple acts can take the sting out of a rough day and make them feel loved.
2. Saying encouraging words to someone feeling challenged by something - particularly if it is about something you don't really understand and would normally brush aside. Being encouraging is one of the easiest ways to be kind and considerate of another.
3. Be kind to strangers with something as simple as a smile rather than a scowl or letting someone in a rush or with fewer things in front of you at the check out.
4. Be kind to yourself. When you're feeling safe and happy within yourself it is easier to offer this to others around you - family, friends, colleagues and strangers. There really is little upside to beating yourself up about things you cannot change. And if you can change them, then change them, don't waste time, effort, energy and heart on being nasty to yourself. Treat yourself as kindly as you would want you most precious loved ones to be treated.
5. Helping a parent with a stroller on escalators or stairs by holding the bottom foot bar so it isn't such a balancing act for them. Holding open doors, helping to get onto trains, generally making life easier just for that little tricky bit is an easy act of kindness that makes the day that much easier for another.
6. Praise in public, critic in private - this old adage has true merit. Never bring someone else down in public. This deems both of you and there's no joy or good in it. If there's something that needs improving or changing have the discussion in private and say it with kindness in your heart. Whereas praising someone in front of others lifts both hearts and shows love.
7. Be kind, fair and firm with your children. It's much kinder to your children when they know what the boundaries are, that they're consistent and fair boundaries rather than indulging and giving in. When in doubt about an answer replace the automatic Yes or No with Maybe so you have time to think and can give a more fair and considered answer.
8. Approach animals with kindness and respect, you'll have many more positive encounters with all manner of creatures. Be part of caring for animals, whether than be giving a good home to one, volunteering at an animal welfare shelter, donating to one or getting your pets from them. Pet shops might have such cute animals in the windows but remember there are equally as adorable puppies and kittens needing good homes at the RSPCA and the like - including specific breeds - and they are much more affordable too.
9. When you meet someone new or visiting the area (city, country) say 'Welcome' with a smile in your eyes and heart. It doesn't matter if they're been here for a while or only a few hours, the message of warmth and acceptance is always greeted with heartfelt appreciation. We've all been new somewhere in our lives and being welcomed by a local makes us feel so much better.
10. Stop and help tourists with directions - this very simple, 1 minute action has a great result with visitors feeling welcomed and that our country is a very friendly place. You can also offer to take photos of people, the photo becomes a long term gift that just takes a moment to do - take two images just to give them choice.
11. Make a habit of doing kind acts for others regularly and have this as an example to the children in your life. This isn't about putting yourself last and becoming a doormat, it's about finding something that works for you and where you're at that is kind and considerate of others. My friend Amanda is great at giving flowers to a stranger she thinks would benefit from a random act of kindness. This makes her life richer while she sticks to a sensible budget for the flowers so it works in with her lifestyle.
12. Very often what is considered to be good manners also translates to being kind to others, such as offering your seat on the bus to another or opening a door for someone. Manners make the world go round more easily - usually because it is about being kind and considerate of others. We enjoy being treated with good manners and so do others.
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