We probably all agree that kindness is a good thing. We also can agree that the world needs more of it. Yet have we stopped and looked inside the mirror? (cue Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror). The world needs more of it, but what does this look like? How do we go about being more kind” to the people we interact with each day? It may seem unrealistic or complicated (I definitely thought so at first), but I’m here to make it super easy. So what are 3 simple ways to practice kindness?
Look Behind You
Story time. Okay so the other day I was walking to class, going to work, and eating at a restaurant. (All very normal things, right?) Except this time it was different. I began to notice the behavior of the people around me. First, I noticed that we open and close a lot of doors. (I promise this is relevant, just hang tight!) Second, we have tunnel vision. We look straight ahead, and we rarely glance anywhere else. Our eyes are fixed on what lies up ahead…or fixed on our phone. (we’ll get there in #3, no worries)
These two characteristics are the reasons why sometimes we’re walking behind someone and as we approach a door, they just let it close in our faces. It can annoy us and frustrate us, and it is something that is so preventable! On the other hand, whenever someone holds the door open for us we tend to be impressed and thankful. It’s such an easy thing to do. You open doors all the time. But when you do, look behind you. If someone is back there, then pause to hold the door open for them. Think about all of the millions of times you open a door during the course of your day. That’s a lot of possibilities to brighten someone’s day and show a little kindness. And it’s so easy!
Our society values speed. We want everything to be fast, easy, and convenient. We live busy, rushed lives that allow us to jam pack as many activities and appointments in as possible. There’s barely enough time to eat and sleep, let alone time to be interrupted when we’re in the middle of something important (and basically everything seems important).
But the other day at work, a coworker that I hadn’t seen in awhile came in and asked about my break. I, of course, did the automatic response of “It was good, how was yours?” Surface level and very lame, yes, but we’ve never worked the same shift before so I didn’t think to come up with a better response.
Then she did something that surprised me. She sighed and said, “not so good.” As she began to describe the struggle that her family was facing, I realized that she just needed to be heard. She just needed someone to listen and tell her that it was all going to be okay. How often do we miss those opportunities to just listen? Opportunities to drop what we’re doing and focus on someone else? We overlook them all the time, but we shouldn’t.
When someone interrupts you, what do you do? Get annoyed and try to quickly get back to what you were doing? (I know I’m guilty of it!) But just think- what’s more important, the person or the task? When you prioritize people, you end up practicing kindness in the most rewarding way.
Make Eye Contact
The other day I was talking about an old classmate of mine, and I was super complimentary of how genuine and kind he was. I told someone, “When you talk to him, it’s like he’s really listening. He makes everyone feel special.”
The more I thought about it, the more I realized what made him so different from everyone else. When this guy asked you a question, he didn’t halfheartedly listen. He didn’t interrupt. He didn’t look down at his phone or off into the distance. He looked directly into your eyes.
It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but eye contact is important. It’s a social cue that shows you are interested in what the speaker has to say. It shows that you care, and that you’re listening.
When we talk to people, don’t we want to feel heard? And don’t we want people to know that we care about them? Let’s try and really listen. Let’s direct our eyes (and our attention) back where it belongs.
These 3 simple ways to practice kindness are realistic and applicable. Try it out today. Look behind you when you open a door. Embrace interruptions, and prioritize people over your to-do list. Make eye contact, and show people that you care about what they have to say. It’s as easy as 1-2-3! 🙂
Do you think these 3 things are easy enough to do? What are some more simple ways to practice kindness? Let me know in the comments!
Want more simple ways to practice kindness? Try the KINDNESS CHALLENGE!