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How to Be Kinder: 11 Fine Tips


Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fabiovenni/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
Henry James

“Be kind to unkind people – they need it the most.”
Ashleigh Brilliant

“Kind words are short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
Mother Teresa

This is a short guide to being a kinder person. It’s not always easy though and I focus on being more consistent rather than trying to be perfect.

But why even make the effort to be kinder? What’s the point? Why not just go about things as you usually do?

Three reasons pop up in my mind.

  • By being kinder to others you tend to be kinder towards yourself. Perhaps a bit counter intuitive but this has been my experience.
  • You get what you give. Yes, some people will be miserable and ungrateful no matter what you do for or to them. But most people will over time treat you as you treat them. Unfortunately, a lot of people will not take the first step. So if you want a change in your life you have to take responsibility for it and make those first moves. Sitting around waiting for someone else to do them could take the rest of your life.
  • It makes your world and the world all in all a nicer place to live in.

So that’s the why. Here is the how to.

  1. Be grateful for what you got. It’s very easy to take yourself, your life and the people around you for granted. Avoid that by using two minutes from time to time for reflecting on what you can be grateful for. Or write it down each day in a gratitude journal.
  2. Express it. Don’t hold in what you are grateful for. Say it. It may be that you are happy to have brought an umbrella on a rainy day. Or just a small thing such as saying thanks to someone for holding your books for a minute. But even such small expressions of gratitude can make your or someone else’s day better.
  3. Minimize judgments. No one likes to be judged. And the more you judge people the more you tend to judge yourself. So it’s a lose-lose situation.
  4. Take it easy with the criticism. Constructive criticism has its place. But too much of that or criticism that won’t help anyone just makes people feel and perform worse. Try encouraging them instead. It makes work and the people involved – including you – easier to deal with and more fun.
  5. Try to understand the other side. It’s easy to stick to your point of view. But you can gain powerful insights about the other person and yourself too by trying to understand their point of view. This also tends to decrease harshness and negativity and can make it easier to reach an understanding where both parties feel more satisfied with the solution.
  6. Make positive observations about people. This is pretty similar to being grateful for what you got but a habit I like to keep in mind and use. Replace the habit of spotting the things that annoy you about people with one where you make small or big positive observations about them. It could be their great sense of style when it comes to shoes, how they always make you laugh when you need it or simply that they are always on time. Be sure to tell them that.
  7. Remember the small and kind gestures. Let someone in into your lane while driving your car. And hold up the door for the next person.
  8. Remind yourself. It’s easy to forget. Use whiteboards, your cell phone, post-its and other reminders in your daily environment.
  9. Awash yourself in the positive memories of the times when you were kind. When you remind yourself how good it felt to be kind and how you helped someone out and made them feel good too it becomes easier and easier to stay kind instead of questioning the habit.
  10. Take the smarter and higher road. Don’t be someone the people can walk all over, set boundaries and say no when needed. But recognize that unnecessary conflicts just waste your time and energy. And that some people are so addicted to the drama and conflicts that you will never win or reach an understanding between the two of you. There are more fun and good things to spend time on in your life. So try to reach an understanding in a kind sort of way. But if it doesn’t work then remove yourself from getting drawn into their conflicts and make the day better for both you and possibly them.
  11. Be kind to yourself. It’s OK and something that a lot of people don’t do enough. And it seeps over into your world and how you treat others just like how being kind to others seeps back into how you treat yourself.

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  • Alexis May 11, 2010, 12:27 am

    Great article! Thank you for sharing. Society today has such a misconception of kindness…it’s almost a nuisance to be kind & compassionate. I would add that a smile goes a long way & its the easiest thing to share…plus in most cases, you’ll get one back ;)

  • Josten May 12, 2010, 9:21 am

    i truly agree with these tips. Being kind to others helps everything else fall into place. Great post.

  • Tasneem R May 15, 2010, 10:32 am

    Yes to be kind to others is taught to us right from school time ! But one tends to forget this noble lesson in the journey of life. Thanks for the reminder mate!
    Here’s a test which will test your people skills !
    How Good Are Your People Skills?- This test finds out how well you interact with others.
    http://3smartcubes.com/pages/tests/peopleskills/peopleskills_instructions.asp

  • Beth May 18, 2010, 4:10 am

    Wonderful post — a little bit of kindness every day goes a long way!

  • Noemi PJ May 18, 2010, 5:31 pm

    Henrick, I am usually appreciative of small things people do for me and I am bewildered why people are surprised when I am easily pleased with seemingly small things.

    Small things could be as simple as teaching me that will put line breaks in my paragraphs for Wordpress. To my friend who gave me this tip, it was nothing but from my end, it was a big act of kindness because I have been figuring out for hours through trial & error how to put spaces between my paragraphs in a blog.

    Do you think people act this way because acts of kindness is becoming more rare these days?

  • Tim DeRoche May 19, 2010, 3:41 am

    The value of being kind is greatest when you’re feeling most down. There’s no better way to snap myself out of a funk than to focus on someone else and do something kind for them, especially if it’s unexpected.

    Tim
    http://www.momentary.org
    free mobile gratitude journal – use promo code “laugh”

  • Robin May 23, 2010, 3:12 am

    A great post. Simple things we all can (and should) do! Thank you!

  • Dr Paul Dyer May 28, 2010, 11:47 pm

    I’ve come to believe that we simply cannot be happy and unkind at the same time. Thank you for some very practical ways to demonstrate love in action.

  • Zorro May 31, 2010, 5:26 pm

    Well, kind people are not so popular nowadays, and its a pity, really.