We have two options in life: To be kind, or not to be kind. It’s absolutely empowering to choose kindness, and below are 18 ways to help you practice doing so every day. I hope these positive decisions can help you thrive!
1. Be kind to your body, no matter what's happening in your life.
As the saying goes, “You have to love yourself first before you can ever love someone else.” And it's true for our bodies, too.
This may sound a little nutty, but I have a friend who talks to the fat on her body. She thanks the fat for being there, then touches it in a playful way, and asks it to leave. “Thank you for keeping me warm this winter, belly fat," she says. "I’ll see you next December. For now, it's time to go.”
Her technique, though odd, reframes the way she views herself and gives her a positive outlook on weight loss, something that most of us just suffer through because we're so busy hating our bodies. Seeing her do that really opened my eyes to being kinder to myself. No matter what's going on in our bodies (cancer, weight gain, or illness, for example), we must be kind to our bodies.
2. Talk to yourself in a kind way to shape the way you view the world.
Sometimes I repeat my purpose under my breath as I walk: I am kind, and I work hard and passionately to share my message. I am nice to my physical body and I am compassionate towards others.
Self-talk, in a kind way, can comfort you when you’re feeling uncertain about the way things are going — or went. If you're stressed out about the outcome of a meeting, for example, you can remind yourself that at least you showed up and did your best. Talking to yourself is a way to reaffirm your thoughts (which shape your reality), so make sure you’re saying things that you want to manifest!
3. When you need help, help someone else.
It’s totally OK to ask for help. Sometimes, it’s even powerful to do so — it shows that you need someone’s strength to become a stronger person … and we all do. If you’re intimidated to ask for a little love in your direction, try sharing it with others and then sit back and wait. The help that you dole out will come back to you, 10-fold in due time. Acts of kindness are always repaid.
4. Put an act of kindness in your calendar.
There’s this thing I’ve been meaning to do for the last three weeks. It involved sending a package to one of my loyal blog readers, and I was postponing it, because the post office is half a mile away. (In the Florida sunshine, that’s an eternity, plus a sunburn!)
Having something that you’re meant to do, on your mind for so long, is torturous! So, I put a time down in my calendar (in the morning!) to walk to the post office and ship the box. The bottom line: Write it down and you’re more likely to do it.
5. Think about small things you can do to make someone else’s day a little easier.
Show up. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s thoughtful. Share a book that changed your life. Bring someone to a party — it’s easy and the introduction could make a big difference in that person's life. All three of these things happened at my Blogiversary party, which made it such a fun event. People showed up to shower each other with love and kindness (and cupcakes).
6. Go with the flow. It could be the Universe's way of sending you some guidance.
Here's a scenario that I encounter frequently when I'm at home, writing: I’m deep into thought, and the words are pouring out of me and onto the page. All of the sudden, I find my dog scratching my leg with his sharp nails, begging to go out. But I’m busy, so I throw him a treat that will occupy him for five minutes before he comes back, asking to go out.
After talking about this situation with the very successful author, Dr. Wayne Dyer, I accepted that my dog’s decision to go out, exactly at the time when I was deep in thought, was the Universe telling me to take 15 minutes and go for a walk.
So, I decided to seeing what the Universe's goal for me was. The next time I was writing and my dog interrupted, I took him for a walk. Interestingly enough, when I returned to my writing, I instantly saw ways to improve the draft. The break allowed me to grasp a new, more insightful perspective.
Instead of pushing back against the Universe’s requests (however annoying and disruptive they may be), go with the flow and look for a lesson to be learned.
7. Decide to stop judging everyone, including yourself.
As soon as we judge ourselves, we empower others to judge us, too. And we all hate the way that feels. I know, it is SO hard not to judge when everyone else is doing it. Next time the thought appears, see it from the outside of your body. Just observe it. And ...
8. When judgmental thoughts arise, talk to them like a kindergarten teacher.
With lots of practice, I have gotten very good at living judgment-free … most of the time. I still need some practice. Sometimes, I find myself getting into a judgmental mode. When this happens, I imagine stepping outside and seeing myself from another person’s perspective. Like a kindergarten teacher, I whisper to the annoying little thought, Please, sit down, I know you’re here, but you must be kind. My goal is to retrain my mind to be kind, instead of attacking myself for having negative thoughts (which would only create more frustration and not improve anything).
9. Weave kindness into your business plan.
I take this very literally, as the tagline on my blog is “Inspiration for kind people.” Everyone aspires to be kind, even if they’re not. If you work in an office or group, talk about kindness, reward it, and employ it. You’ll love yourself more when you see how you’ve empowered people to shine.
10. Thank your best teachers.
Go on, right now — send a quick email or a text to your best teachers in life. Thank them! It will make them feel so proud of all of the times they were patient and kind toward you while you learned.
11. Thank your worst teachers.
We all have jerks in our lives. Instead of spending your precious time and energy trying to avoid them, consider them your greatest teachers. Forgive them, and be kind to them, even if it's only in your head.
12. Call a friend instead of sending a text.
Next time you pick up the phone to text someone, give them a call instead. (I know, using the phone sounds like an antiquated idea!) But look at it this way: you’re probably texting the person because the thought of them magically appeared in your mind — again, the Universe’s way of nudging you to reach out. A phone call is a much more intimate way to connect with someone than a text. I’m not a gambler, but I’m willing to bet that you'll both appreciate the call.
13. Answer the phone.
Oh yes, this goes both ways! Someone calls us and it’s inconvenient to talk — or maybe we’re just lazy. We send their call to voicemail and go on watching Game of Thrones with a tinge of guilt that by the time it's over, it will be too late to call back. Honor the caller’s effort to be kind, and just chat for a few moments — you never know what that call could mean to them until you pick up the phone and press answer.
14. Show up.
Do you have a friend or acquaintance who you always invite to party or an event and always find yourself wondering why the heck they never show up? Or why they always cancel last-minute? Actually, that used to be me. I was afraid to show up to events because I was afraid that people were going to judge me. My body, my outfit — totally afraid!
Maybe that feeling resonates with you? Well, my advice is to forget judgment. Leave it powerless. Starve it. Showing up when someone invites you somewhere is the best gift you can give someone, and also yourself. Go to support — show up and be kind. And have fun, for goodness' sake!
15. Remember: time is our biggest asset.
When you just can’t help but get angry or judgmental (hey, we’re all human!) stop for a second and think about your life. If it were to end in a second, how would you spend your time? Start choosing your reactions by understanding how you want to spend your last few minutes. Live your last few minutes like a firecracker — enliven everyone around you with your colorful bursts, and fizzle out when you’re at the top!
16. Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
If someone's a jerk to you, try giving them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they just had their first kid and are so sleep-deprived, hormone-dazed, and totally overwhelmed, that they barely have time to brush their teeth. I use this as an example, because this happened to me.
I wondered why my friends with new babies disappeared for six months after birth. I thought it was because I didn’t have kids, so we could no longer be friends, right?
Thankfully, one of my mommy friends was quick to tell me otherwise. She said the first six months of parenting are the craziest six months of your life. (I wouldn’t know, yet.) After she explained that to me, I thought about how many times I’ve not given people the benefit of the doubt, and blamed them for something that's no one’s fault. And six months later, just as my friend said, we’re hanging out again — now with a cute little sidekick in tow.
I have ‘listening victims’ in my life and they are my angels: My grandma, my mom and my older brother, my sister-in-law — and of course, my husband. I pick up the phone, and vent, and all they do is listen without judgment. Sometimes, listening is the kindest thing that you can do for someone. Listening is easy and it doesn’t require the pressure of having to give advice. Just listen and know that if someone’s venting to you, it’s because they love and trust you deeply.
18. Be a conversation shifter.
Lately I’ve found myself shifting conversations. When a conversation is going in a direction full of gossip or judgement, I try to think about something related to the topic, and segue into something connected but uplifting. (Side note: If you want to know what a person is really like, examine the way that they talk about others.) If you can interrupt any surfacing negativity in the conversation and replace it with kindness, you just might be the perfect cure to a group discussion — and the most popular party invite.
I hope this list is helpful! And I challenge you to choose kindness. Remember: you are kind, you are great, you are empowered.
Emily Nolan is a model and author of the award winning blog, MyKindofLife.com, sharing inspiration for kind people. She's also the Founder of Topless, a popular women's self-confidence workshop that tours the world. Emily is a new age (role)model that promotes health at every size--which she emphasizes through yoga and mind & body exercises. Emily has been tapped as Mind Body Green's Top 100 of the World's Most Influential Thought Leaders for her work in promoting radical honesty and healthy body image. She lives in Miami with her husband Matt and their rescue dog, Spunky. You can connect with Emily on her website MyKindofLife.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.