Did you know that November 13 marks World Kindness Day? It may not automatically pop up on our Google calendars or be a paid day off from work, but World Kindness Day has been recognized internationally since 1998 and encourages us to be just a little bit kinder to one another.
In theory, we shouldn’t need a dedicated day toward kindness, but in reality, many of us (myself included) could use occasional reminder. We cut someone off in traffic, snap at a coworker in a meeting, or forget that others around us are fighting battles we likely know nothing about. Being kinder toward others scientifically enhances our quality of life, improves our health, reduces stress and even depression, and makes others more likely to pay it forward in the long run. In honor of World Kindness Day, I’d like to share five easy tips for being a little kinder all year long.
1. Practice reverse gossip.
In episode 181 of Gretchen Rubin’s podcast, Happier, Gretchen talks about the power of practicing “reverse gossip,” or speaking positively about other people. As simple as it may sound, I think we often get into a routine of gossiping about others in a negative way and dwelling on their faults rather than talking about the good. When I find myself speaking overwhelmingly negatively about others, I like to take a mental inventory of where I’m at in my own life and why I might be feeling that way. More often than not, we spread negativity when we are personally not feeling great about our own situations. Practicing reverse gossip not only begets positivity but also can boost our own happiness.
2. Volunteer your time.
Find a cause that speaks to you, and give back. Whether you decide to foster animals in search of their forever homes, mentor a high school student, or donate professional services to a non-profit you care about, do what you can to make your community a better place. You may not think you can make a significant impact, but trust that you are making a difference in someone’s life. When in doubt, remember the story of the starfish (below).
3. Ask “how can I help?”
At some point in time, we will all experience hardship and grief. When we recognize that pain in another person, sometimes the best thing to do is to simply ask “how can I help?” Everyone responds differently to adversity or tragedy, and what you may personally need is not necessarily helpful to another person. Remember that we all have different love languages, and those translate to other relationships in our lives outside of the romantic ones. While some friends or loved ones may prefer words of affirmation in tough times, others may benefit from acts of service (bringing groceries or offering to pick up their kids from school).
4. Perform random acts of kindness.
I love random acts of kindness because there are infinite ways to make someone’s day a little bit brighter, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Whether you reach out to an old friend or buy coffee for the stranger behind you in line, you have so many opportunities throughout the day to just be kind. When in doubt, this website has some awesome resources and ideas for incorporating random acts of kindness into your life and even into your classroom curriculum!
5. Be kind to yourself.
Self-care is a powerful thing, but all too often we put ourselves last and forget to listen to our own hearts when it comes to what we truly need. You can’t effectively practice any of the above long-term without checking in with yourself from time to time. For example, introverts like myself sometimes need that time to themselves to recharge before we can properly return to the outside world. Be kind to yourself, don’t beat yourself up for imperfections, and give yourself the self-care that most speaks to you.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others. – Sam Levenson