It’s a cliche at this point to say “the world just needs more love,” or “if everyone were nicer, the world would be a better place”. It’s idealistic, fantastical, even. I stopped believing in being able to change every single person with some worldwide revolution.
But, what if I could change a single person with my own personal revolution? I’m not going to pretend like I’m the nicest person in the world, or the most patient, or the most loving. But, you don’t need to be Mother Teresa to have a compassionate heart or want to do nice things. In fact, it’s simpler than you might think.
Start with the Right Attitude
There are a lot of people out there who are out for themselves. They don’t seem to be concerned at all with how their actions affect others. They might not intend to be disrespectful or rude to others–or maybe they do. They’re selfish, either oblivious or apathetic toward other people’s needs, and seemingly incapable of showing a shred of compassion toward anyone else.
Decide to not be like them.
It would be incredibly easy to succumb to your base desire to treat them the way they treat you. Instead, treat them how YOU want to be treated. It’s the Golden Rule, after all.
You don’t know why they are the way they are, but everyone’s journey is different. Maybe they were never taught how to act because they grew up in a cold and harsh household. Maybe they’re fighting an internal battle, and it affects them outwardly. Maybe they just don’t process the world around them the way others do, and it causes clashes with other personalities.
Whether it’s a good reason or not, resolve to rise above that mentality and treat EVERYONE with kindness. Rise above it, not so you can say you were the “bigger person”, but so you can say you were the kind person. Sometimes that’s what a person needs. Sometimes, that person is you. Showing kindness can benefit you just as much as the recipient.
What do you think when you think of the word kindness? Does it conjure images of “turning the other cheek”? Speaking softly and meekly? What about being “too nice”? That’s where you’re wrong, buddy. Those things can be associated with kindness, but the official definition is “friendly, generous, and considerate”. You can meet this criteria with any action or deed done for the benefit of another person. You don’t need to be a perky, upbeat person, either. You just have to be yourself. Anyone can show compassion or do a good deed.
Another thing: don’t do it for the gratitude. If your feelings are hurt by someone not showing appreciation, don’t take it personally. Some people have a lot of pride, and it’s difficult to express thanks. Perhaps they just don’t know about the importance of gratitude. You can feel good that you did the right thing, even if the response you get doesn’t make you feel that way.
Related Post: How to Be More Empathetic (And Why You Should Care)
Look for Opportunities of All Sizes
Some “acts of kindness” are viral sensations on social media. They’re branded as a marketable commodity, often to make the brand or influencer seem kinder, gentler, or heroic, even. This isn’t always a mirror for real life, though (and I have my own thoughts on whether this inspires others to do nice things, or if it’s just generating positive good will for the person or company posting it).
Not every act of kindness is a grand gesture. And they’re definitely not all social media-worthy. Opportunities to be good to other people come in big and small packages, some are obvious, while others are not.
For example, I have a friend that is a great creative mind with big ideas, but he struggles to stay organized or know where to start. He’s not big on practicals or logistics, but I am. I help by offering to look things up, show him options or strategies, and help him set plans and make any arrangements.
Have an anxious friend? You could make appointments or phone calls for them, or accompany them somewhere they’re feeling apprehensive about (a new gym, church, a doctor’s appointment, etc.). The key here is listening for them to say that they’re nervous or anxious about doing something, and then offer to help. Most people with anxiety won’t ask for help with this stuff–probably because it makes them too anxious.
I’ve been on the receiving end of this, too. I talked for nearly two years about changing my eating habits. It felt too difficult, requiring far too much prep work, mental energy, and planning. With the help of internet friends and real-life friends, I received advice, encouragement, and awesome recipes. It felt like an act of kindness for me because I find this stuff stressful and exhausting, so the help meant a lot to me. For someone else though, this might be an easy way to help someone else.
If you’re looking for more simple, easy-to-execute acts of kindness, check out this post from Nyxie’s Nook. It’s a refreshing take on kindness. I love to see content like this.
Can Acts of Kindness Change the World?
I could posit that if everyone followed this ideology that the world would be better off, but as I already pointed out in the opening segment, that’s far too naive and reductive. Of course the world would be better off if everyone instituted this mindset! But that’s not likely to happen.
More realistically, this is about changing the world around you. That’s the people you come in contact with on a daily basis–friends, strangers, acquaintances, enemies. This isn’t a call for the entire world to change, but a pragmatic approach for any person with the will to change the world around them.
You’re not out to affect 7 billion people. Just looking for opportunities right in your own backyard.