I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness lately, why it’s so important to me and why it’s such a big part of living a happy life.
In my Facebook group we have dipped in and out of kindness and last week’s focus was on kindness to ourselves. But today we turn over a new page and delve into kindness for loved ones. So I guess we firstly need to define loved ones. I am a bit of a loving person so I love LOTS of people. So for me, it isn’t restricted to family and a small group of very close friends. It’s basically people I like/ spend time with etc. But for some, loved ones is a more exclusive club and I totally get that.
So how can we be kinder to those we care about?
Often those we live with and see most often don’t get the best treatment from us. Our familiarity with them and our confidence in their affection and tolerance for us can mean that, well, we take them for granted. And we don’t always offer them the consideration and care that we could.
Everyone is different, as are their circumstances and so what would be a wonderful tender kindness to someone might not be to someone else. So if you are considering upping your kindness to loved ones, or a loved one in particular, it is best to think specifically about that person rather than more generally about ‘kind things to do’. What would THEY like? rather than what would YOU like to do for them?
However, as a starter and a suggestion, and because there are things that MOST people would appreciate, I have started this list below. I’d love for you to add to the list and you can do so either in the comments here, or on the Facebook page. It would be great to hear from you and for you to share your ideas with the rest of the simple happy lifers!
Ten Kindness Ideas
1. Do a chore that this person usually does, either in the home or at work if they are a colleague. Don’t tell them you’re going to do it, just do it. And do that more often!
2. Send them a book or DVD you know they will love or better still, give it to them in person. Gift wrap it!
3. When having a proper chat or conversation with them, give them your full attention. Put your phone AWAY. Having someone’s full and undivided attention is very precious.
4. Give them a compliment, make it about something very personal and specific to them, not a general, ‘hey your hair looks good today’ type of statement. Try things like ‘I really admire the way you handled yourself in that meeting, you were so clear and everyone was really listening to you’ or ‘you’re such a great dad, you had so much patience with XXX today’ – something specific and about their personality/ behaviour.
5. Notice the kindnesses that they do for you/ for others and thank them for it so they know that you have noticed. e.g. ‘I really appreciate how you always sort the bills/ put out the bins/ make the beds/ remember the milk’ etc. I wonder how many people quietly seethe under the weight of the seemingly unappreciated kindnesses they do for others. Makes me feel a bit sad thinking about that!
6. Instead of having social media chats or text messages with your friends, meet them face to face with the intention of listening to their news, not just sharing yours. Even better, make/ take cake. I love social media but I also love seeing people in real life and giving them a good squeeze. Online contact is no substitute for seeing someone and if you can’t be in the same room you can at least set aside proper time to Skype and FaceTime over a cuppa or a glass of something nice.
7. Notice an area where someone is struggling and just get in there and help – be it childcare/ babysitting, dog walking, gardening, shopping etc or maybe you have specific skill that can help a friend. Instead of saying ‘is there anything I can do to help? offer a specific thing that you are going to do like ‘I will pick xxx up from school all next week’ or ‘I can update that database for you’.
8. Give someone you live with an evening or day completely on their terms, their favourite food, their choice of film in the evening, their favourite place to go out, no chores to do/ you do their chores etc – you get the idea. Within reason, they get their own way all day/ evening and you make it happen for them! This is an excellent kindness for children, they are so controlled most of the time, they literally go POP when they can do what they like! (the ‘within reason’ bit is VERY important with kids!)
9. Pick up a cheerful bunch of flowers such as daffodils or tulips when you are out and about and drop them off to a friend or neighbour for no other reason than you appreciate them, or you wanted to make them smile. (Buy some for yourself whilst you are at it – you’re worth it…)
10. Accept the mistakes of others (and do it with grace) – we all make mistakes, so next time your partner, or child, or colleague, or best pal, messes something up that will have a direct effect on you, just don’t react in a negative way. Don’t whine. Instead smile, say, ‘that’s ok’ and let them know that it’s not a big deal in the context of everything else you share with them. We are all SO hard on ourselves at times, and it’s such a kindness when someone just very comfortably forgives us and allows us to move on gracefully. It’s a true kindness to let someone off the hook!
So what do you think?
Are you ready to be more kind to those you love? Please let me know what you end up doing and the effect that it has, I’d really like to know!