How to Be Kinder: 11 Fine Tips

by Henrik Edberg

Image: / 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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Amanya Jacobs May 7, 2010 at 12:29 am

11 great reminders of how to be kind. I especially like the emphasis on the small things you can do every day-let a person with a couple of items get ahead of you in the grocery store check-out line.

jonathanfigaro May 7, 2010 at 1:46 am

Being kind is a great way to improve your self esteem and confidence. Nice post. I do my best to keep a smile on my face and Highly successful goals in my mind all day long. Like they say: obstacles is what you see when you take your mind off your goal!

Lise A May 7, 2010 at 3:35 am

# Minimize judgments.
# Take it easy with the criticism.
# Try to understand the other side.
# Make positive observations about people.

I am not sure I see the difference between these. Criticism and judgment are 2 words for basically the same thing. Understanding is a great tool to minimize judgment. And if you saying less negatively, you’re probably saying more positively instead.

Do you see a basic difference between these 4?

Henrik Edberg May 9, 2010 at 9:53 am

Hi! That’s a good point. I listed them all in this article because a big reason why I wrote the article was to keep it as reminder for myself. So I wanted to cover the different angles of what is basically pretty much the same thing so I could be more easily reminded and aware of these things in my daily life and improve my own behavior and thoughts.

Franco May 7, 2010 at 6:11 am

Henrik, I have got to congratulate you for this excellent article, I apply some or the advices given here on my everyday life, and its great to discover new ones ! Thank you for it, you have got an excellent blog and I have been trying to read most of your articles, but my studies left me a very litlle time for doing what I most enjoy =P. Anyways… Congratulations for a great article and a great blog.

Sorry if any of the words are not well written, Im an English student… and I love the language !
Goodbye, Franco.

Parker Lee May 7, 2010 at 9:27 am

Hi Henrik!

“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.”

This is a very, very good point. We live in a world where it’s much easier to criticize than encourage–It makes ourselves feel much more “accomplished” when criticizing others. And because everyone loves to criticize, you will always have someone to join you. This is a horrible cycle that we all can easily fall in, it’s important to remind ourselves that just like eating ice-cream all day, it may feel good for a bit, but we’ll eventually feel bad.


Guru Talks May 7, 2010 at 11:42 am

In, fact.. I was expecting your next article on coming Monday (as u mentioned somewhere :) )…
Any way, these 11 tips are truly wonderful. Kinds words do magic with kind gestures. Kindness is so existential… it really heals and nourishes relationship.

Richard May 7, 2010 at 11:55 am

Great tips thanks for posting. :)

Tom MacKay May 7, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Really great blog – if everyone could be kinder to each other the world would be an even greater place. I always think it is really important to start by being kind to yourself – people generally give themselves a hard time and if they can be kind to themselves first, they’ll find it easier to be kind to others.

Korina May 7, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Lovely post! There are a lot of points on here that have been thinking about recently. The point on minimizing judgements is really something I have been more mindful of since the start of 2010.

Kindness will cure the world :)

outstanding May 7, 2010 at 2:57 pm

To be kind is to show someone the utmost love and compassion they deserve as a human being. The first step to being kind is to show that you are concerned about them. Take a few steps back out of your own “world” and enter theirs. Be sincere when you speak with them and truly engage in conversation without thinking of how you can chirp in and add your opinion. Understand that your opinion is really … just an opinion. People need other people, it is the way we are designed. Listening is so important when your trying to be kind to someone else.
great post thaks for sharing this keep it up

Michelle @ Find Your Balance May 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm

I’m always taken back by how much it means when someone compliments me, even for a small thing like my taste in shoes. It’s a little gesture that goes a long way :-)

Terry May 7, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Great blog. I think people tend to overlook this aspect of leading a happy and positive life, as you can’t control other people just yourself and by being kinder to yourself and others you are bound to be happier!



Joshua Noerr May 7, 2010 at 8:50 pm

One very simple thing I try to do daily is be kind in traffic. Simply letting someone merge when it’s rush hour could be that little thing that makes them feel better and that they eventually pay forward.

It also helps me get in the mind set of finding other nice things to do all day. Cheers!

Susan Liddy May 8, 2010 at 1:45 am

“Take it easy with the criticism.” <— really great advice.
Too easy to judge others… focus on their flaws… see the "negative".
I find when I get into that type of mode that I am also being critical of myself.

Kindness and acceptance begets the same.
Gosh, imagine if we all practiced kindness for one another.
Would be a different world.

Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey May 8, 2010 at 3:34 am

I also find that when I put myself in a mind-set of “what can I do for others” helps me to be kinder. We’ll be amazed at how much kindness we can show when you put yourself in that mind-set.

Thanks for sharing!!

Lily May 8, 2010 at 6:39 am

Keep being inspiring.

Roman Soluk May 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm

You are definitely right by saying that being kinder makes the world a better place to live in. And this article is, perhaps, a small, but very important step to this goal.

Thanks for it, Henrik!

Petey Silveira May 8, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Wonderful reminders for daily living! I’ve found that people are so much more reluctant to give compliments and positives to friends, family or co-workers. Unfortunately it is the negative that seems to flow out first.
I love finding the beautiful, the unique, the interesting, the kind…about those that cross my path. Speaking my feelings to them brings a light to their eyes and a brightness to their day which makes me feel as positive the rest of MY day! As you give, you will definitely receive!

Henrik Edberg May 9, 2010 at 9:53 am

Thank you all for the great added insights and kindness tips. :)

Mr. Saidely May 10, 2010 at 9:28 pm

thank^you, gd post Henrik

Alexis May 11, 2010 at 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 at 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 at 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.

Beth May 18, 2010 at 4:10 am

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

Noemi PJ May 18, 2010 at 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 at 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.

free mobile gratitude journal – use promo code “laugh”

Robin May 23, 2010 at 3:12 am

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

Dr Paul Dyer May 28, 2010 at 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 at 5:26 pm

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

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