I don’t think I do any one thing spectacularly well. Except for maybe the following: dropping things, leaving the burner on long after I’ve finished cooking my pasta, quoting television shows, and making mix CDs. While those all add entertainment to my own life, they won’t get you very far. So how about this: How to show kindness to your fellow man.
This is one of my strongest ‘platforms’ as a school counselor. I preach up and down building each other up vs. tearing each other down, and my students know that the one thing they could ever do that will get my nostrils flaring, is intentional meanness.
Kindness is simple. Treat people the way you want to be treated. One of most oft-stated colloquialisms in America. Yet, based on the interactions I have on a daily basis, one of the oft-forgotten and least-followed proverbs of our time. So here’s a step-by-step breakdown of showing kindness to your fellow man:
1. Smile. We have mirror synapses in our brains that typically cause others to imitate our facial expressions. That’s why yawns are contagious. But so are smiles! And they’re free.
2. Say ‘hello’. In some way, shape, or form, greet your fellow man. Because at the heart of it, nobody wants to feel invisible. Acknowledgement can go a long way. One of my editors at the Savannah Morning News told me once, “Honey, you’re in the South. Just make eye contact, smile and say hello. That’s what we do here.” And the Southern states could teach the rest of us a thing or two about kindness.
3. Find a simple way to help. You know those times where you’re walking into a building and there’s someone behind you, but they’re just this far back that it might awkward if you held the door for them? Slow down a couple paces, and then hold the door. Or be that one person who lets someone in the right-hand lane. Bring someone a coffee. Genuinely ask them how their day has been, or send an anonymous note telling someone how wonderful they are.
4. Use names. This personalizes the interaction and lets the other person know you are paying attention, which is a key to showing kindness.
Kindness doesn’t have to be a Bill Gates-level of philanthropy. It can be the tiniest action that brightens someone’s day, simply because it’s unexpected. Follow these four simple steps and you, too, can be thought of as ‘kind’ among your people. 😉