Kindness seems to be a lost art these days. It’s a rare gem, hidden amidst the pushers of haste and the irritable groaners. I often search for it as I’m going and doing out in the world and what I see is a lot of people who want nothing more than to stay to themselves. I get that. I really do. I’ve been one of them, many times.
But it still makes me sad to think the majority of people out there going and doing are so consumed by themselves; they really don’t think to look any further.
I try to work on this in my corner of the world. I often feel compelled to engage with other people. I try to be intentionally kind when chatting with the cashier or passing by someone who appears to need a little lift. Oftentimes, it lights us both up with a new air of goodness. Sometimes, my words and smiles fall on empty ground- no new buds are gonna grow there.
But I still keep trying.
Most of the time, it’s worth it.
I’d like to think there are at least five simple ways to be kind. These efforts of kindness are truly doable for us all. Here’s what I find most inspiring:
When we are kind, we have more energy and feel better about ourselves and the world we live in.
So here goes…
1. Smile. Seriously, just freaking smile, would you? When the cashier asks for your I.D: Smile. When the crosswalk guard waves to you: Smile. When you’re at your kid’s sporting event: Smile. When you’re walking through the grocery store: Smile. When you are in the break room at work: Smile. When you are out in this world, doing what you do: Smile.
You know how it feels when someone smiles at you, right? Just think how many people you can show kindness to with simply curving up your lips and showing your teeth. It’s infectious, and in this simple act itself- you are lighting up the world because what often happens when you smile? Others smile too.
2. Give Eye Contact. This one is just really interesting to me because I rarely see eyes anymore. I’m out and about and NO ONE LOOKS AT EACH OTHER. We are all drifters in our own little worlds, looking into our phones or minding our own business- not interested in what is happening around us.
What really fascinates me, are the conversations I can have with people without them looking at me at ALL. They do not feel the need to even give me a glance. Apparently the digital age has stolen this valuable social skill too. Have you ever noticed when you DO make eye contact with someone else? Connection happens. We need more connection. No, NOT internet connection-HUMAN CONNECTION.
3. Say “Thank You.” What happened to manners? I know many of you have them and use them, but there are some really rude people out there. A simple thank you can have an enormous impact on a person, don’t you think? I might as well add “Please” to this list too. Any time you have a chance, say these words and mean them.
Appreciation goes a long way in this world. We need more of it. I think there are many people who do their jobs or live in their roles without the gratitude they deserve. I’ve witnessed people walking away from others with no mention of a thank you, and I’ve also seen many request or demand things with no “please”. Why are we so intolerable these days? These words translate into respect. We all deserve that, yes? Two words- they make a difference. Let’s all use them more.
4. Acknowledge other people’s presence. As you fly by those people in your life that you pass over and over again, it’s a really kind thing to acknowledge their presence any way you can. Remember #1, #2, and #3? They can be applied here too. I wave at the poor janitor who got dealt the hand of standing out in the cold, the rain, and whatever other weather conditions that arise, to monitor the morning school drop-offs. I may be tired and distracted, but waving and smiling and looking at him as I drive by is a simple gesture he might appreciate. He smiles and waves back every time. I’ve been known to do this at both my kids’ schools, and I’m surprised to have teachers thank me for my morning waves and smiles.
It takes little effort, and yet it goes a long way to acknowledge those people you pass on a regular basis. They are out there in your community, doing their job as best they can. Look at them, wave, nod, smile, say please and thank them, would you?
5. Compliment someone. This one’s my favorite thing to do, but it takes just a little itty bit more effort on your part. When we are in public, there are so many people we see and often we think to ourselves how cute they look in those boots, or how cool their car is, or how adorable their kid is- why don’t we just SAY IT to them? I seem to be one who has no problem doing that. I just love seeing people’s faces light up after I deliver an impulsive compliment to someone I pass when I’m out in the world. I’ve had few ‘adverse effects’ of this approach (Really. Crazy right? Well, actually they thought I was.), but more often it surprises them with delight.
If we have nice thoughts about people, why not tell them? It doesn’t take much time at all, and I promise it’s worth those few seconds of discomfort when approaching someone with kind words. I wish more people did this. If you are naturally shy, I understand your hesitancy. But may I challenge you to step out of that safe place and go for it? It won’t be as painful as you anticipate it to be. I promise. And the payoff is totally worth it.
We all live in a world where kindness is so desperately needed. I’m still working on all of these ways to be kind, especially on those bad days. You know the ones, right? I think those are the days I need to invest more kindness into the world because it ultimately makes me FEEL more kind- and that’s always a win in my book.
As if this isn’t enough to motivate us toward being kind, think about your kids if you have them. My kids are often with me as they observe these things and consequently pick up many kind habits themselves. I LOVE seeing kindness in both my kids- the eye contact, the smiling, the waving and hearing them say “please” and “thank you” or compliment another person. On the flip side, I’ve also heard them scream at drivers from the back seat. Ahem. I’m still working on car kindness. *Cough cough*.
The bottom line is this: Our kids will COPY US.
If we model for our children these simple acts of kindness, just think about how the next generation can fill our lives, our stores, our schools, our workplaces- our world with more of what is truly lacking and sorely needed.
It doesn’t take much, just more intention and awareness.
We all need to have more of both.
Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom says
Well said, Chris! Another lovely reminder on how we are called to act in this world.
You know, I definitely find regional differences in friendliness. Michigan, where I live now, is pretty unfriendly but when I go out west to states like Montana, everyone there makes eye contact and chats with strangers. Interesting!
That is SO interesting, Katy! Huh. (Thinking of moving to Montana now…)
Yes!! Put down your damn phone and look at me! We’re beginning to get so insular – I see a Wall-E type future for us if we don’t figure it out.
I know… and it scares the bageebies out of me. 🙁 This culture is changing drastically… and I don’t like it at all.
Chris, I love and value all of these suggestions and do try to engage with each daily..sadly, it’s somewhat old fashioned isn’t it..but you bring these ways back home to us in the here and now where they belong. We cannot call ourselves Christians if we don’t engage in such ways, if they don’t become the natural way of our lives! You are a bright light and encouragement.!!
I am always thinking of how I ‘look’ to others who may not know Christ… there is nothing more fulfilling than to smile and offer compliments or help or even by simply acting polite- knowing that I am showing the care and compassion and grace that comes from Him. I STILL need to work at this constantly… but oh, it’s wonderful when it happens! I wish all Christians were more thoughtful with their actions and their words. 🙁
That is one reason why I married Chrissy because she was kind
Aw!! You make me *glow*. <3
Mo at Mocadeaux says
I love every single word of this post. I think kindness is the key to happiness – our own and that of the people around us. In a world with internet trolls, caustic political ads and a general air of crankiness, these 5 simple acts really, truly can make a difference. Thank you!!!
Janine Huldie says
This is perfect and think you know I truly agree about our kids learning from us first and foremost. So I try very hard to show both my girls daily how being kind is just as essential as the air we breath to survive. That said I love your tips, especially that I am a big believer in smiling as much as possible here 🙂
Julie Jo Severson says
“As you fly by those people in your life that you may pass over and over again, it’s a really kind thing to acknowledge their presence.”
I needed this reminder today so much. You really walk the talk, Christine. The times I have not modeled kindness to others clang in my memories with so much regret. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start anew, but still, hard not to carry some regrets. Oh, if nothing else, I hope my children will remember me as kind. I hope so. And I hope this post goes viral. It’s going on my timeline!
Aw Julie, how I adore your supportive comments my friend! I too, regret it SO much when I fail to be kind- those days when I am rushed and impatient and down right ugly. Sigh…
BUT- like you, I hope our children remember us for mostly being kind. I think they will. I really do. <3
Kelly L McKenzie says
Oh dear Chris – you slammed another one out of the park with this puppy. Love it. I had to deal with a principal at my kids’ elementary school a few years back and MAN could he learn a lesson or 12 from you. He wasn’t big on eye contact so I actually found myself on the floor looking up at him as he pawed through his open filing cabinet as a method of avoidance. Hello. Off to share. Thanks, Hon.
Aw Kelly! Thank you SO much for your support with this message! A PRINCIPAL? Unable to give eye contact? Wow wow wow… how can that be? The leader of a school full of children that need to learn manners, kindness, communication among other social skills… just wow. Did you really get on the floor? LOVE THAT! Oh girl, I just adore you. (AND your mama!)
This is utterly beautiful, Kitty, and I love your heart for other people.
As I started to read, I worried, because I don’t think I’ve been very kind lately, or I’ve been kind in ways which have felt selfish, or haven’t really been THAT kind. Kindnesses which maybe take something back. BUT…your words, your five ways…THOSE things remind me how easy it is to be loving towards others, and remind me that I *have* been doing some of them. Which is very reassuring.
Thank you for always thinking of others, and for helping us 🙂 <3 <3 <3
AW!!! I smiled SO BIG when I first read your beautiful comment, lovey! I am so glad you were able to see that you ARE doing these things, and feel that affirmation you deserve to feel.
You are such a giver, I can’t imagine you not being kind. You don’t give yourself enough credit- EVER.
Ahem. Let’s go for a long walk and talk about, okay?
*Dreaming for more of that*
Sometimes the eye contact one is hard for me, but once it’s there, it’s impossible not to smile.
I see a lot of people during my walks at the dog park on quiet weekdays. Generally it’s a happy place – full of happy dogs and owners. Sometimes I’m not in a good mood and I want to look down when I pass someone.
Often, I don’t. Always, I’m glad I didn’t.
I learned once that to break an anxiety attack, I can reach out to an old friend, compliment someone, or send someone a letter, card or gift.
Reaching out is the best treatment for SO many ailments… it really is. It pulls us away from ourselves- something we all need to do more of, I believe. I know that helps me tremendously- when I cycle inward- It is a form of selfishness. I try really hard to pull myself away from MYSELF and reach out to someone who I know needs help or encouragement in some way. That was great advice you got, Tamara. 🙂
Amen to this, my friend: “Our kids will COPY US.” These seem like such basic things we should all do, but I’m amazed how little these 5 important things are carried out these days. I sound like an old woman, don’t I :)? I’m a big fan of smiling at people even if I’m cranky. It can truly change someone’s day and is such an easy act of kindness. Thanks for these reminders, Chris!
Exactly Candace!! And girl, I feel like that ‘old mom complaining’ saying “USE YOUR MANNERS!” lol But really, it needs to happen. It’s such a shame this is the new culture out there.
Love all your suggestions! I am particularly aware/sensitive to the eye contact. Lack of eye contact in young children/ babies is a sign of autism, so I always get a red flag in my mind when someone doesn’t meet my eye. A term I’ve always used with Barrett is, “give me your eyes.” I’ve caught myself, more than once, saying that to teens and adults who don’t look at me.
I love that Allie… “Give me your eyes.” I make my kids look at me often- especially when I am telling them something really important. I also reprimand my kids when they don’t use eye contact with adults. It is my pet peeve, among other things I shared here.
So true! Great points. I really resonated with #4. Acknowledging someone’s presence can have a ripple effect you may never know of. People want to feel connected, special, chosen….all things Christ is already to us.
I am constantly thinking how to ‘show’ Christ’s love, when I am out and about. It’s SO important we shine His love and grace and LIGHT on all. <3
Love this! Yes and yes!! Be ye kind to one another. Be excellent to one another! It’s really not that hard. I had to love the other day when someone told that it unnerved them because when I was talking, I kept looking at their eyes!! I’m… uh, I think that’s how conversation works…??!!! LOL
I know you get this, Leslie!! 🙂 EYE CONTACT PEOPLE! It’s called EYE CONTACT!
Jill Robbins says
Love this, Chris. Eye contact and compliments are huge things and yet so, so easy to overlook.
I’ve missed connecting with you, friend!
Thanks so much for coming by to read this one, Jill. I missed connecting with you TOO, my friend! 🙂
I LOVE THIS, all of it!
Seriously how hard is it to say “thank you” when someone does something nice like open a door for you?
Great reminder Chris, thanks for this!
Right? Being kind is NOT hard. I just walked by another walker on the path, and I smiled and said hi- she did a quick eye jerk and kept waling. Wha? I don’t understand.
We’ll keep working at it, okay? 🙂
Hi Chris! Isn’t it amazing how simple it is to change the mood around us? (Including our own mood?) Just a smile can lighten the load of someone in your line of sight. That’s such a powerful thing! You can make someone else’s day a place of light, and replace the darkness.
I know you do that for many in your life Chris. Keep on smiling!!
And I am CERTAIN you do it for many in YOUR life, Ceil. 🙂 It can make a HUGE difference in people’s lives.
Kristi Campbell says
Oh Chris. Your heart. You. All of this. I love it so much. Also it drives me nutty when people can’t make eye contact. I used to work with a woman who would always look at my boobs instead. I mean seriously. At least look at my forehead or whatever.
What is THAT about? I am teaching my kids to LOOK AT PEOPLE WHEN YOU ARE SPEAKING WITH THEM.
Simple ways to make a difference Chris. I can’t agree mor with you. We are living in a world where all these little attentions seem old-fashioned. But if we try to give our best to others every day, we’ll make the world a better place.
I still need to remember this on bad days. After all, it’s on these days we need it the most.
Thanks for the inspiration. Stay well and blessed.
This world needs so much more of this good stuff, doesn’t it? And those bad days… those are the hardest but most important to be kind. Thanks so much for doing YOUR bit for the world, Marie. I KNOW you shine this light in many beautiful ways, my friend.
Awesome…beautiful…simple…five steps to show kindness are keys to a more meaningful life in this earth…do practice them…I will make sure they become part of my daily life! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Thanks so so much, Lynne! I’m thrilled you read this and it spoke to you! It seems so easy, yes? Intention and awareness. That’s all it takes. 🙂
I love the kindness list, so very true that we need more of it.thank u for sharing
Thanks for stopping by to read it, Stacy. 🙂
YES, YES and YES!! 🙂
YES YES YES!! *Agree* 🙂 XOXOXO