How To Increase Kindness In Your Life

Now, more than ever before, we are aware of the kindness, and lack of it, around us.  Here’s how to act kinder, be kinder and encourage the flow of kindness into your life.

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

Be a Person of Your Word

You will never be a people person if you aren’t truthful and deliver on what you say you will. People will start to avoid you when this happens. You need to make sure that if you promise something, you will do whatever it takes to make sure you get it done.

Of course, don’t promise things if you feel you cannot get them done. You see this happen with companies all the time. They agree to anything customers ask for and then are unable to give them what they want. That is never a good situation to be in. People will react negatively when this happens. The company won’t get more business, and their reputation will be tarnished as a result.

Don’t let this happen on a personal level. Be confident in knowing what people are asking you to do. Don’t agree just because you don’t want them to become upset with you. They will be more upset if you aren’t able to produce what you told them.

If you agree to meet with someone, be sure to keep the appointment. There are certain circumstances where you have to cancel, once in a while. That’s okay, but don’t make a habit of this. Being a people person means being dependable.

It’s also okay to expect the same standards of others. If you find someone who is not dependable, you may have to cut ties with them. This may seem counterintuitive to the whole idea of being a people person, but it’s not. You are expected to be reliable, and you should expect the same from everyone you deal with.

Of course, there are going to be occasions where people have to break appointments. This is normal and should be expected. Don’t be too hard on people when it happens. But, here too, they shouldn’t be repeat offenders. It’s important to be understanding, but there is a point where some people will take advantage of this.

When you are known as a person of your word, others will have no problem recommending you. In fact, they will start referring you even without you asking for it. This is one of the foundations of being a people person.

Being a people person is mostly about common sense. It’s about interacting with others and having some expectations for everyone you deal with. It’s about developing friendships as well as work relationships. As you increase the number of people, you will discover what works best for you and those people.

Simple Ways to Be Kinder to Someone Today

Being kind isn’t difficult. Once you set your mindset to ‘Kind,’ you’ll notice all sorts of opportunities throughout your day to reach out and be kind to someone.

As a bonus, once you’re in the kindness loop, you’ll notice you feel happier and more fulfilled. Scientists call this ‘the helper’s high’ as altruistic acts trigger the same endorphins as a ‘runner’s high’!

Here are some simple everyday ways of including kindness in your day. Some of them may no longer be possible while we are under COVID-19 lockdown but many are still possible – albeit digitally!

  1. Stop to let a pedestrian cross the street or to allow another driver into the traffic.
  2. Say please and thank you.
  3. Say good morning and good night to your colleagues.
  4. Smile at a stranger.
  5. Hold the door for the next person.
  6. Hold the elevator.
  7. Let someone with only a few items go in front of you in the grocery store.
  8. Do a coffee run for your colleagues.
  9. Hug your loved ones.
  10. Push the trash bins out for your neighbours.
  11. Mow your elderly neighbour’s lawn.
  12. If you’re going to the store, ask your neighbour if you can pick anything up for them.
  13. Try volunteering at your local soup kitchen or shelter.
  14. Be the bigger person and let the other guy have the coveted parking space.
  15. Stand up for someone on the bus or subway.
  16. Ask a stressed-out co-worker if you can help.
  17. Help wash the cups after a meeting.
  18. If the photocopier is running on empty, replace the toner and fill the paper bin.
  19. Buy surprise flowers for your partner.
  20. Give some coins to a street entertainer.
  21. Pledge to stop grousing for a week.
  22. Join your company’s mentor or buddy program.
  23. Leave a book or magazine on the subway or in a bus station.
  24. Donate your excess art supplies or craft materials to an elementary school.
  25. Encourage your kids to sort through their stuff and donate items in good condition to charity.
  26. Donate money to your favourite charity or non-government organization.
  27. Notice what your partner or colleagues are wearing and pay a few compliments.
  28. Ask friend or colleagues how they are, and listen to the answers.
  29. Reach out to family members or friends, send a text message, or call them to see how they are.
  30. Clean up your neighbourhood. If you see trash in the street, pick it up and put it in the bin.

Eliminate Negativity by Developing a Positive Attitude

The best way to eliminate negativity is to develop a positive attitude. Your thoughts and outlook on life have a profound effect on how you live your life. They are also contagious and affect those around you. You can’t have both positive and negative in the same space. So why not focus on turning the negativity into something more positive?

You will find you have more energy and enthusiasm when you have a more positive attitude. People will want to be around you more and will be more positive as well, leading to a cascade effect. Negativity tends to bring you down and steal away your energy. It can also cause health issues over time. Some ways you can develop a more positive attitude are:

Read Books about Positive Thinking

There are many books out there that can teach you about how to develop a positive mindset and eliminate the negativity in your life. Reading is not only a great way to learn, but it helps your brain build more connections which keep it healthy for a longer time. You can even find many very good books on this subject in your local library and read them for free.

Affirmations

Affirmations are a way of reprogramming the negative thoughts you tell yourself – and in many cases, you may not even be aware that you have them. By doing affirmations, you can change these negative thoughts into positive ones. You can start thinking better of yourself.

Meditation

Meditation is a great way to help eliminate negativity and turn it into positive thinking. It also reduces stress. Because you get past the conscious level, you can really help reprogram your mindset with meditation. If you combine this with the affirmations, you can increase the results.

Spend time with positive people

Try to eliminate or limit contact with people who tend to have a negative mindset. Sometimes you can’t completely break off contact with them, especially if they are family or people you work with, but as much as possible try to spend time with positive people. Not only will you find it easier to be positive around them, but you may learn new ways to help yourself be more positive.

You can eliminate negativity if you set your mind to it and use tools and techniques to make it happen. You will not only feel better about yourself and have more energy and zest for life, but you will be physically healthier. Negative people drain their mental and physical well-being with their mindset. So, learn to have a positive attitude.

Forgiveness: Another Way to Eliminate Negativity

When people treat you wrong, it is very easy to hold a grudge. You may not understand how it could be possible to forgive someone for a slight, especially if the action was especially hurtful. Maybe you think forgiveness is about the other person and somehow, they benefit from you forgiving them. Forgiveness is not about the other person; it is about you.

Forgiving another person does not always mean they stay in your life. Sometimes you do not even let them know you are forgiving them. You do not even need to trust them again. Just forgive them to eliminate the negativity in your life.

Even horrific crimes can sometimes be forgiven. For safety reasons, you may want to use an indirect way of forgiving them instead of contacting them directly. Write a letter as if you plan on sending it to the other person. Talk about how what they did made you feel, and about how it made you think about yourself. Write about how you are no longer going to allow them space in your head and how you forgive them for what they did to you.

When you finish writing, seal up the letter in an envelope and put their name on the front. Then either throw it away (shred it first!) or burn the letter. It does not have to actually be read by the person you are forgiving, this exercise is to help you get past the negativity and the chains that are holding you back as a person.

If you find you can’t forgive on your own, you may want to talk with a professional. Therapy can really help you get past this hurdle. Especially if the person committed a serious crime. If you have been abused, particularly over a long period of time, you may need therapy to help you get past what was done to you. There is nothing wrong with seeking help.

Once you have forgiven the other person, you will feel like a weight has been lifted, or chains have been removed. Grudges are not healthy for you and they do not affect the other person. When you bottle up negative feelings, you can increase your risks of developing heart disease, and other health conditions. You tend to age faster as well. Not forgiving others can dim your overall outlook on life, so why put yourself through all of that?

Remember that forgiveness is not about the other person, it is about eliminating the negativity in your own life. So free yourself today by forgiving others for the wrongs they have done to you.

Making Other People Happy

When people themselves are happy, they experience positive feelings which they attribute as being something good. But when people make others happy, it elevates those positive feelings even further. There is no doubt that people love to make others happy. In fact, if you are ever feeling down yourself, one way to bring yourself up is to find ways to make others happy. This will give you the boost you need.

When you strive to make others happy, they notice. They will get a boost in their mood which you will see that reaction in their face immediately. It may even be returned to you in kind, either immediately, or sometime in the future.

The great part about making others happy is it is relatively easy to do. It can be as simple as paying someone a compliment. Or it can be helping out a colleague whose workload is overextended. Sometimes, simply thanking someone can lift up their spirits no matter how small the task that you are thanking them for is.

One really easy way to make people happy is to smile. Smiling is a warm and friendly act that most people will respond to positively by smiling back. A smile is a form of welcoming and shows that you are opening yourself up to those people. It gives people an invitation to approach you.

Another way to make someone happy is to simply listen to them. You would be amazed at how effective this is. People aren’t usually good listeners so if you stand out as someone who is, this too will get noticed by people and it will make them happy.

If you want to go a step further in making others happy, try to learn more about the people that you want to make happy. Be interested in what they do. Then, if you see something related to their interests, either bring it to their attention or give them something related that shows you were paying attention.

It’s important to be genuine when making others happy and not use it as a form of manipulation. People will pick right up on that tactic and it is sure to backfire on you. Since it doesn’t really work anyway, why bother even trying it? People will appreciate you much more and will respond positively to your efforts to make them happy instead of trying to get something out of it for yourself. They will also be more willing to make you happy when the effort is real.

Share Your Heart & Practice Empathy

We trust people around us who are open and honest with us. We like and trust people who aren’t afraid to share what they feel and what they are passionate about. In other words, we’re willing to be vulnerable around others who aren’t afraid to share their heart. Thus, it’s only logical that if you want to get closer to those around you, pull them in, and get them on your side so to speak, you should open your own heart and share what’s important to you.

It’s not always easy to make yourself vulnerable by sharing your passions and ideas, but it will pay off in the right context. If you’re trying to get your team on board with a big idea that will improve the company, the work environment, or how your department works, don’t be afraid to let your passion and excitement show. It can be quite contagious and if nothing else, it communicates how important this is to you and that you’re doing it to better the work environment or job security for everyone on the team.

This, like many other “people skills” will come easier to some than others. If you’re in the habit of keeping your feelings and important thoughts to yourself, it will take some conscious effort and practice to get in the habit of sharing your heart. Start small and among people like close friends or family that you feel relatively safe in doing so. As time goes by, keep practising and widening the circle of people you share your heart with until it becomes part of who you are.

Another important skill that’s worth developing is empathy. Empathy is being able to recognize what the other person feels and what motivates them. Here’s why this is important. At our core, we’re motivated by what’s in it for us. When you’re able to empathize, you’re able to see what will motivate the other person and what they could get out of whatever it is you want to accomplish. When you can communicate that well, it becomes easy to get people on your side and get them on board with what you want to do.

Some people are naturally empathic, while others have to work at it a little harder. Try to put yourself into the other person’s shoes. Think about how things affect them from their point of view. The better you get at viewing things from their side, and figuring out what motivates and drives them, the easier it will become to use the right words, acts, and motivators to win them over.

The Benefits & Problems of Being a Good Listener

How many times have you listened to someone and found that you have come away knowing them better for it? When a person speaks, they reveal a lot about themselves. So if you want to know a person better and understand their motives, dreams and desires, then it makes sense to listen more closely.

While most of us can hear, not all people have the ability to listen as attentively as others. This is why listening is often listed as a desired skill set.

When you start to listen to a person you gain more insights such as:

  • Understanding what they expect of themselves and you
  • Build better relationships with family, friends and your coworkers
  • You will be able to resolve issues more quickly
  • Have a better understanding of what people are trying to tell you
  • You will know how to respond properly
  • You will become a trusted and respected person

The moment you present yourself as someone who is not listening, your trust level drops substantially. There are actually physical and mental barriers that you need to overcome in order to become good at listening.  The most common ones include things like:

  • Prejudice
  • Language and accent barriers
  • Noise levels
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Worry
  • Poor attention span
  • Hearing issues

Some of these barriers are going to prevent even the best listener to fully understand the issue. A great example of this is trying to listen to someone who is not speaking their native language. They may use the correct words, but the biggest handicap is their accent. No matter how hard they try to pronounce words correctly they are just not understood.

So what can you do if you are having a hard time understanding someone? A good active listener will often try to do the following things to improve their comprehension of the situation.

  • Move in a little closer
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Nod and smile to indicate that you are listening
  • Ask appropriate questions
  • Try to clarify the issue in your own words

By doing these things you are showing the person that you are doing your best to understand them. This can be very helpful and can put the person speaking at ease. Quite often they are feeling stressed out, nervous and anxious. By helping them to put their feelings behind them, they can often explain the situation better.

As you can see it is not that difficult to improve your listening skills. Just be aware that there are problems that can prevent you from fully understanding people sometimes.

Top Tips for Building Every Type of Relationship

There are some things we can do in all our relationships to build and maintain strong bonds. This is true because underneath all our differences, likes, dislikes, and biases, we are all human beings who desire social connections. The tips below should be used in all your relationships to form bonds that will stand the test of time.

Be appreciative

This might mean different things in different relationships, but the overarching sentiment is the same. When they do something kind for you or take the time to support you when you need it, be appreciative – acknowledge their care and concern.

Spend time together

It can be hard to find time to get together when we are all so busy, but it’s important for all relationships. If necessary, set up a standing appointment so that it just automatically happens. This makes sure it happens because you will get used to scheduling other things around it.

Communicate honestly

Sometimes you may be tempted to bend the truth to avoid conflict, but your relationships will be much healthier overall if honesty is held in high regard. It’s possible, to be honest without being brutal. Choose your words carefully and be as diplomatic as possible, while still sharing your feelings openly and honestly.

Forgive faults

Forgive them for their eccentricities and annoying habits, and also forgive yourself for any mistakes you make. We all have faults and shortcomings that we bring with us into any relationship. Sometimes to keep the relationship strong, we need to just come to the conclusion that their presence in our lives is more important than the little habits that drive us crazy.

Support them

Intermingled between all the good times, there will surely be times when the other person could use a helping hand. Whether it’s helping them move, taking them dinner when a loved one has passed or being a sounding board for a difficult decision, any relationship worth having requires some TLC. And the other person deserves it, just as you do when you need it from them.

Do unto others

It’s just a good idea to always live by the Golden Rule, but it’s especially true in relationships that are important to us. If you wonder if something you might do is likely to upset them, chances are it’s better to talk to them about it first. Wouldn’t you want them to do the same for you? It’s better to err on the side of caution.

4 Tips for Training Your Brain to Act with Kindness

Being kinder is not about making sacrifices or denying your own needs. Treating people kindly is not an imposition or another task on your checklist.

It’s the outward manifestation of living positively. Kindness is all about mindset, and you can train your brain to make kindness almost automatic. Ever notice that being kind to someone makes you feel good too? It’s because altruism promotes a chemical reaction in your brain, releasing serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine. These chemicals not only make you feel good but also work to reinforce positive social behaviour. By laying down new neural pathways, you set yourself up for living a positive, kinder life.

Here are some scientifically proven tips for engineering kindness into your brain.

  1. Choose to be kind

In choosing to be kind, you are consciously resetting your mindset to treat people with compassion and empathy. Notice the effect of your kindness on others. When you smile, people’s natural reaction is to smile back. You set up a kindness loop that keeps on paying itself forward!

Choosing to be kind, regardless of your mood, can even turn a cranky day into a happier one. Your brain receives the message that all is well, and before you know it you’ll be feeling more cheerful.

  1. Do more random acts of kindness

Studies have shown that carrying out five random acts of kindness every week is the single most effective way of increasing your happiness. Anything from buying a pay it forwards coffee, to letting another driver into the traffic, or mowing your neighbour’s lawn will make you and the other guy feel good.

  1. Be kind to yourself.

Self-kindness starts with noticing your self-talk. Are you encouraging or judging? Do you start from a position of ‘yes you can’ or ‘you’ll never do it’? Pay attention to that voice in your head, and change the script to kindness.

Build little acts of self-care into your day. Reward successes, big and small. Take time to do the things that make you feel good. Make sure you get enough sleep, stay hydrated and have a nutritious diet.

  1. Practise gratitude

Make it a daily practice to count your blessings. Research has shown that people are happier when they notice the good things in their lives and practice gratitude. The outcome is so marked that it changes your brain structure! Brain scans have shown the effect of mindfulness and gratitude.  The parts of the brain associated with stress shrink, while the regions associated with self-awareness and compassion grow.

6 Painless Ways to Be Kind to Others

Being kind doesn’t have to be a big deal. You don’t have to be sacrificial or a martyr to be nice to other people. Remember when you learned about the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s that easy.

Being kind doesn’t have to cost you anything more than a smile or remembering your manners. And it’s easy to develop a kindness habit, once you get into the groove of being kind to people it just gets easier!

Here are some suggestions to help you get started.

  1. Smile

Smiling is easy, cheap and sustainable. It’s also contagious – smile at someone and their immediate reaction is to smile back. The act of smiling is relaxing and floods your brain with endorphins. As a bonus, smiling lowers your blood pressure and your stress levels.

By making eye contact and giving a genuine smile, you are showing respect and making connections.

  1. Reach out

Don’t wait for people to connect with you. Send a message, a card or flowers to someone you haven’t seen for a while. Chances are you’ll brighten their day. If you know someone has been having a rough time, check in with an ‘are you ok’ message.

If you have elderly neighbours, check in with them to see if they need anything.

  1. Offer some hugs (once COVID has gone!)

Offer your partner, kids or friends a random hug for no reason. So many people are starved of physical affection. And often as children grow up, they get hugged by their parents less and less. A warm hug lifts them and will make everyone feel good.

  1. Show up

If you’re routinely too busy for social occasions, or your kids’ school function or sport, step back for a minute and set some kinder priorities in your life. Give the gift of your time and your support.

  1. Be a kindness role model

Think back to the people who have shown your kindness, maybe a teacher or a boss or mentor. How did they affect your life? By including kindness in your life, you can be an excellent role model for your colleagues, friends, and family. Show them that being kind is a priority for you.

  1. Give some random compliments

Notice when someone does a good job or is looking great. You have the power to lift their day by noticing and acknowledging their efforts.

If you want more kindness in your life, it starts with you.  Why not give some of these tips a try?

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