What does it mean to be kind? Many of us have a sense of what kindness is: a sweet confection of good, nice, attitude, and action. That’s a good start. Some may mix in generosity or a dash of humility. But the signature ingredient of kindness is sympathy.
We’ve all had a taste of the struggle to find balance between surviving and living, so we all know just how much even the smallest kindnesses can mean — especially when they come unexpectedly. Here are ten of my favorite ways to make life a little sweeter for someone else.
1. At the end of trash day, move your neighbors' cans from the street for them.
2. Return your shopping cart to the bay at the store entrance, OR put away a cart left in some random place in the parking lot.
3. Go for a walk and pick up any litter you see.
4. Buy bottled water and nonperishable snacks (trail mix, nuts, dried fruit, etc.) to offer those asking for help.
5. Be kind to yourself. Instead of dwelling on what you haven't done today, make a list of everything you did (no matter how small or mundane) and revel in your accomplishments.
6. Offer to run errands for a friend the next time you're taking care of your own.
7. Write down inspirational quotes and leave them in library books, waiting room magazines, or books at a bookstore.
8. Don’t just tip your waiter or waitress, leave a note complimenting a job well done. Maybe leave a note for the kitchen staff, too.
9. Freeze bottles of water to leave for your mail carrier and garbage haulers on hot days.
10. If freezing temperatures are on their way, lift the windshield wipers on other cars in the parking lot.
The primary ingredient in kindness comes from recognizing the needs of the people around us, and finding a way to help fill those needs. When you are able to do it without being asked it becomes a Random Act of Kindness, a movement growing in popularity.
As often as possible, do something kind even though it isn’t expected of you, and without expecting anything in return. After all, kindness tastes sweetest when it is served for free.
Photo credit: Jakob Owens.