Kindness is catching, but only if you spread it. Let's start an epidemic!
This is a list of things you can do for family, friends, acquaintances and strangers that will help to sow kindness and light. People are often told what they've done wrong, but rarely do we take the time to thank them for things done right or highlight what catches our eye. You may think some of these are hokey, but try it once and you might change your mind. There are always many levels to what you can say. The more advanced levels -- the ones that are harder to do or may feel slightly embarrassing for first time kindness sowers -- are listed lower down in the examples. Everyone needs uplifting and affirmation. Everyone matters. Everyone deserves a little kindness to brighten their day.
First of all, some general suggestions:
For Strangers and Acquaintances:
- Be prepared for a response. If it is denial, reaffirm what you said. A good way to answer a denial is to say "I don't think so." Often the response will be "Do you really think so?" Look right in their eyes and say, "Yes, I do.
- Whatever the response, listen to it and respond with kindness. The 10 seconds it takes to listen to their response will affirm what you said. If you just rush off, it will diminish your kindness and might make the person think you didn't really mean it.
- Don't diminish thanks with denial. If the person thanks you, don't diminish the value of your kindness by saying it was nothing. Say "you are welcome" or "thank-you" or "I'm glad." My personal favorite is "Happy to help!"
- Whatever you say or do, say or do only what is true. Lies have a way of dirtying even the most sincere effort. You can always find something true to be kind about. If you don't think something is pretty, call it interesting. Be sincere but honest.
- Thanks: Thank someone for something. For advanced sowers, include what it means to you. Examples:
- Thank-you so very much.
- Thanks for your kindness/your understanding/your perceptiveness/your proficiency.
- You are really good at this! Thanks for being so efficient/fast/thorough. It really helps.
- Appearance Compliments: Say something nice about an attribute, appearance or attire. For advanced sowers, add a comment. Examples:
- That's an attractive/interesting ____ you are wearing. .
- Your hair/hands/face look[s] great today.
- Have you lost weight?
- You have such an interesting/amazing smile/laugh.
- You look happy. Thanks for brightening my day.
- You look wonderful. Whatever you are doing, keep doing it!
- Action Compliments: Note something someone did. For advanced sowers, include what it means to you. Examples:
- Thanks for the speedy service.
- You are very good at your job.
- Thanks for your patience.
- Thanks for being so patient with the previous customer. We all have our moments and it warmed my heart to see you be so understanding.
- Make someone laugh: Find something humorous about a situation or just make a humorous comment. I'm not very funny, so I need examples. Examples:
- Sorry; the only thing I retain these days is water.
- Tell someone "Be kind to yourself; you deserve it."
- Provide a penny to someone searching for one.
- Write a kind note to a server at a restaurant.
- Find a different way to say "Have a nice day" and mean it!
- Give someone a cookie/flower/other small gift.
- Make up "Thanks for brightening my day." and/or "You are special." cards and pass them out.
- Help someone who dropped something or is struggling to open a door.
- Look someone in the eyes and smile as if to say you are special.
For Family and Friends:
Sometimes it can be harder to be kind to those we love. There is so much history and baggage. It is hard to be kind when angry, irritated or in a bad mood. We should be kindest to those dear to our hearts, but we often lose perspective in familiarity. Try to set aside moments to be kind to those closest to you. While kindness to a stranger is often a single moment in time for you, kindness to those we love takes place in a continuing relationship. It tends to brighten our own life as well. Read "Sometimes" for impetus to sow kindness at home. We can do all of the things we would do with strangers with loved ones, but here are some additional ways to be kind:
- Highlight positives: Remark on something someone does well.
- You are such a good reader/helper/athelete!
- You are so sweet/smart/kind/patient/thoughtful.
- You have grown so much.
- You are doing such a good job of _____.
- I wish I were as ___ as you are.
- Express what you feel: Tell them in different ways just what they mean to you.
- Thank-you for being a part of my life.
- I'm so glad that you are a part of my life.
- I feel privileged to know you.
- You are a blessing to me.
- You are amazing/wonderful/fantastic.
- I admire/respect/love/cherish you.
- I cherish our time together.
- I love the person you are becoming.
- Listen: Truly listening to what someone has to say with interest and attention, without interruption, is a wonderful gift to give.
- Sing a song: Sing a love song to a loved one.
- Make a card: Make a card for someone that tells them just how much they mean to you.
- Give a gift: Make/buy something your loved one would like and give it to them, such as a cake, a picture, the thing they are always forgetting to buy
- Do something unexpected: There are always things that others nag us to do that we resist doing. Give in. Do it and be gracious about it. Grumping through it isn't a kindness. If they thank you, say that you did it because you love them.
- Ask questions: Ask if there is something that a loved one wants you to do or stop doing and tell them you are asking because you love them and want to brighten their lives.