We all know we’re supposed to treat people with kindness, but sometimes, in our stressful day-to-day lives, we can forget to treat people with respect and compassion. In fact, according to a survey, 76 percent of respondents say the world is a less kind place than it was 10 to 20 years ago. The good news is that humans are naturally wired to be kind—sometimes it just takes a little thought. So, if you want to spread good vibes and compassion to the people in your life, here are 10 simple ways to practice kindness every day.
Use Your Manners
I’m sure your parents told you this or you may say it to your own kids, but sometimes we simply forget to say “please” and “thank you”. Don’t forget to say “please” when you ask for something, whether you’re talking to a waiter, customer service representative, cashier, friend, or even a random stranger. Saying “please” changes the tone of a request. Instead of making a demand, you’re being courteous to the person, which makes them more likely to want to help you.
On the other hand, when you say “thank you,” you’re expressing gratitude for a behavior or service and you’re letting the person know you appreciate and value their effort. No one wants to feel insignificant—say “please” and “thank you” and make someone’s day.
Smile at a Stranger
How do you feel when someone smiles at you? In most cases, it makes you feel warm and happy, and you probably smile at them as a result. Smiling is actually contagious, according to a study published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. We often mimic facial expressions of emotions because of sensorimotor stimulation. So when we see someone smile, we often do the same.
No matter what’s going on in your day, smiling can make you feel better; it’s hard to be upset when you’re smiling. So, share these good feelings with others—even when you don’t know them personally—and make sure to smile at the people you encounter.
Don’t Be Stingy with Hugs
Like a smile, a friendly embrace can make a person’s day. A good hug can lift someone’s spirits, make them feel loved and appreciated, or be just the pick-me-up they need for a hard day. But did you know, this simple act of affection also affects us, chemically? “Basically, a good hug is the fastest way for you to get oxytocin flowing in your body,” according to Susanna Halonen, a positive psychology expert at Happyologist. “Oxytocin, also known as the ‘love drug’, calms your nervous system and boosts positive emotions.”
So if you want to make someone else feel better and boost your spirits as well, bring it in for a nice, comforting hug!
Use Your Coins to Make Change
Do you have some extra change in your pocket or wallet? Why not use it to make someone else’s day? Instead of holding onto it, when you’ll probably forget all about it, put it in a parking meter or a collection tin at the grocery store. You won’t even notice it’s gone and you’ll be helping another person or cause.
Send (Real) Cards
With Facebook and other social networks, people tend to say “hello” or “happy birthday” via social media. As a result, people receive fewer greeting cards. You can instantly lift someone’s mood by sending a card in the mail. While you can always send a birthday card or a holiday card, why not send a “just because” card to let someone know you’re thinking of them? Sometimes, the unexpected cards are the best, and they’ll make a lasting, positive impression—guaranteed.
Pick up the Phone
You probably send lots of text messages throughout the day, but when is the last time you really connected with someone on the phone? Call a loved one or a friend you haven’t talked to in a while to catch up. Text messaging can’t replace the feeling of a heart-to-heart conversation over the phone.
Help a Stranger
Hold the door for someone, buy coffee for the person behind you, share your lunch with someone, or hold an umbrella for someone who needs a hand. When I was in high school, I was on crutches and couldn’t hold an umbrella in the rain. A fellow student walked me across campus with his umbrella. To this day, I still think of him every time it rains. Sometimes, the smallest actions can have the biggest impact.
Bake Cookies or Buy Doughnuts
Everyone loves sweet treats—why not bake some cookies and bring them to a neighbor’s house, your niece’s school, or to anyone else who could use a smile? You can also buy cookies or treats and take them to a local firehouse or police station.
Let Someone Go Ahead of You in Line
If the person behind you at the grocery store only has a couple of items, and your cart’s filled to the brim, why not let them go ahead of you in line? It will save them time—and they will be surprised by your kindness. They may even reciprocate the gesture if they find themselves in a similar situation next time!
Leave a Little Money Lying Around
You may not want to do this one every day, but every once in awhile, leave a $5 bill for someone to find. That lucky person will be delighted, and it will instantly lift their spirits. If you’d rather not leave money in a random place, you can always give a couple of dollars to someone in need or consider donating to a charity or cause.
Kindness doesn’t require a grand gesture; little things can make a big difference. With a little creativity, the possibilities are endless.