Kindness is often relegated to the far reaches of our mind.
We’re so busy trying to get things done that we forget how powerful it feels to lend a hand to another human being. How important it is.
Now, more than ever, we need to step outside of ourselves, see our interconnected nature, and feel what it’s like to connect with someone through kindness. The great part about it is, we don’t just help the other person, the benefits to ourselves are endless as well.
– Lao Tzu
Kindness has a kind of power that warms the heart and makes us feel alive. It gives us a sense of perspective and purpose that are completely unmatched by anything else.
Unfortunately, most of us have either never felt what it’s like to perform an act of kindness for another, or if we have, we don’t remember or realize it was the act of kindness which was the source of the feeling.
Fortunately, this powerful effect can be experienced even with the simplest acts of kindness. Here are five acts of kindness you can try today:
1. Pay it forward
Three years ago, on a Wednesday morning in St. Petersburg, Florida, a woman paid for an iced coffee in a Starbucks drive-thru. But she didn’t just pay for her own, she also paid for the caramel macchiato of the driver behind her. Who then did the same for the person behind them…
What happened next was nothing short of amazing.
That simple act of kindness performed by a single customer turned into an incredible eleven-hour chain of paying it forward. And before you think this is an isolated occurrence– it’s not. Events like this have happened in fast food lines, coffee shops and elsewhere all throughout the country. And this is a simple and easy act of kindness you can do throughout your day without asking anything in return of the other person, the best and most rewarding type of activity.
2. Listen to what someone else has to say
Some acts sound so simple but can be life-changing for the person on the receiving end. The simple but powerful act of listening is one such act.
Too often do we seek out our next chance to talk, too little do we search out others who need a patient listener. Listening has a sort of healing quality. It gives the speaker a safe place to pour out their emotions which can be extremely therapeutic.
And when someone listens to us, intentionally, without judgment? It makes us feel accepted, like we’ve found someone we can connect with on an emotional and spiritual level.
The next time you’re with someone who’s having a rough day, offer to listen and see not only how you’re able to help them but how good it feels for you to do so.
3. Volunteer with a local kids program
Kids are awesome. If you’ve never worked or interacted with young children through family, friends, or other before, you’re seriously missing out. They’re funny, creative, surprising, and all-around extremely entertaining.
But they’re something else: sweet and appreciative (if you catch them early enough, or get to know them well enough if they’re older, that is). And volunteering at a local kids program is an easy and highly fulfilling way to experience this.
You help them out by volunteering your time and energy and they give you a gift far more valuable: the sense of meaning you experience when you’ve truly touched another human being with kindness.
4. Solve someone’s problem
Problems come in sizes big and small. Sometimes, others experience problems that we, with either our time, money, skillset, or other resources, could help easily solve.
This could be a friend who needs help moving, a family member who could use your professional services, or a coworker looking for donations for a family member’s funeral. Whatever it is, you have an opportunity to perform a small act of kindness that is anything but small for the recipient involved.
These are opportunities to step outside of yourself and touch someone who is specifically in need. It’s not something you can actively go out in search for like the first three points on this list, but when the opportunity comes up, stepping up to help those in need can instill within you a deep sense of joy for making a difference in someone else’s life.
5. Do something for someone without them asking
If you want to help someone you know personally in a more proactive way, you can always try helping them before they even consider asking you. As opposed to someone who expresses a challenge beforehand, these are people who are close to you that deserve your love and attention and whom you’d just like to show your appreciation for.
Sometimes, a spontaneous act of kindness is the best kind. It’s important to practice kindness without wanting something in return. Sure, practicing kindness offers incredible gifts to us, but if we make it about ourselves, it’s no longer the pure act it once was.
However you choose to do so, set out to experience the power of kindness and how it affects others, as well as the sense of meaning and joy you get when placing the needs of others above your own. Kindness is one of the most powerful forces in existence. And something the world could use a whole lot more of right now.