When you think of kindness, do you think of someone nobly performing 50 random acts of kindness? Admirable as that is, that isn’t the only means to approach kindness. There are many ways people show kindness every day.
Kindness is simply the act of being friendly, generous, and considerate, and there is evidence of that everywhere. Sometimes we just have to look for it.
Kindness is taking into consideration another person besides yourself and acting without expecting anything in return. When you show a genuine interest in another person, you are telling them that they are seen, recognized and heard — that they aren’t alone in the world.
Here are some ways people show kindness every day, and how you can, too:
Kind people truly connect with the people they encounter. We are wired to require connection with others for our well-being. Freely giving that connection is an act of kindness. Notice it, and imagine how doing some of the acts below could transform a day. We do that when we:
1. Smile at someone to show understanding. Smiling at someone who needs it to show you truly understand their situation is kind. And then, help if you can.
2. Listen without interrupting. Be completely present and listen. When someone is talking, let her say whatever she has to say and allow her whatever time it takes to develop their thoughts, no matter how disjointed they may seem. Without thinking of your response, just listen and consider someone else’s point of view.
3. Don’t judge. Many factors shape each of us. It is deeply kind to interact with someone who has the ability to enjoy another person for their contribution, without judging.
4. Stay true to yourself and be honest — but deliver what you have to say with tact. Imagine how much better you would feel knowing someone told you the hard truth — kindly — than kept something from you out of cowardice.
5. Get happy. Put your own insecurities aside and feel happy for another person’s success in life. Open up to their deep joy and celebrate with them!
6. Keep our word. If you say you’re going to get together with a friend, make that date. Answer the phone, write the text, show up for the meeting if you say you’ll be there.
7. Inspire but don’t preach. If someone is feeling low, a lecture is far from helpful. A genuinely optimistic point of view can, however, be hopeful. Offer encouraging words but make sure they are sincere. And remember that your journey and wisdom are just that — yours. Everyone has her own.
Kind people behave generously. Generosity isn’t necessarily about giving things, as much as it is about our behavior. It concerns the sincerity and abundance with which we give of our own nature, although here is also where those random acts of kindness shine.
And in the science of happiness, generosity is credited with contributing to a happy marriage, social connections, and a balanced life. We show generosity when we:
8. Give genuine compliments. The next time you notice something you admire, take the time to tell the other person. Yes, it takes a bit of extra time, but that moment of kindness can totally alter someone’s mood.
9. Allow someone else to go first if they are in a hurry. When you see someone rushing to catch a connection, or if someone is in a line at a store and needs to get somewhere on a time frame, and you have a cushion of time … what a gift to let them go in front of you. The extra five minutes it cost you may have saved their sanity for the day.
10. Give without conditions. When you agree to a favor, or to donate, or give in some way, do it gladly — or not at all. A generous spirit accompanying a small item is much more pleasant for the recipient than a large gift given grudgingly.
11. Be a connection. Chances are, there are people in your life who can somehow enhance the lives of other people you know. Without being intrusive, make the introductions that can make a difference.
12. Affirm someone’s ideas. Instead of discouraging others when they bring up their ideas, why not encourage their creativity? It’s up to them to follow through on their goals. It’s an act of generous kindness to show you believe they have the character to make their dreams real.
13. Support that dream. Nominate a deserving person for an award in their field. Show the world what you see by sharing their brilliance.
14. Bolster someone who needs it. Notice someone whose confidence is flagging? Target them! Designate compliments and comments to encourage them until they remember their greatness!
Kind people show consideration.
Consideration means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and seeing the world from her perspective. You don’t have to agree with her, just accept that she is entitled to her own view of the world. We show consideration when we:
15. Know our boundaries. Act with generous abandon when the situation warrants it but know when to hold back when privacy is called for, too. Take the other person’s needs into consideration, and you will know which course of action to take.
16. Be the positive voice in a sea of dissension. If you’re reading a log of negative comments and you disagree, be brave enough to write a positive word of encouragement. Your words of encouragement can overcome a sea of haters or at the very least send a ray of hope.
17. Anticipate the needs of people around us. We’re surrounded by many of the same people daily and know their habits almost better than they do. Anticipate a friend or coworker’s needs by bringing them their coffee before they have a chance to get it themselves.
18. Know our limits. Be considerate of personal space in public. We all need to be able to enjoy our time and space together. So keep your voice at a level only your companions can hear, don’t take up more physical space than you need, look where you’re walking, and don’t eat strong smelling food in crowded spaces.
19. Create an even field when in a mixed group. When going out with a group having different financial situations, choose something that works for everyone. Same applies to ethics and other preferences. Imagine how kind it is to think of the people you are with and choose activities that work for all comfortably.
20. Be thankful. Remember to show gratitude, from recognizing and appreciating the moments in your life, to thanking others. Say and write “thanks” often. Dare to be a throw-back and send a hand-written note. And when expressing your appreciation, go one step beyond thankfulness and express why someone’s actions were impactful to you.
21. Perfect humility. Apologize when you make a mistake, and always allow room for error — even if it isn’t immediately obvious. Remember, if you’ve hurt someone’s feelings, “right” and “wrong” don’t have the same impact that kindness does.
Ironic as it may sound, put yourself first. The magic of kindness is felt in its sincerity. Connecting with others and giving of ourselves requires paying attention to our own needs so we can then put ourselves aside as we consider someone else.
It takes a bit of energy and time. When you show yourself a little consideration first, you have that much more to share with others. Another surprising way people show kindness every day.
This post originally appeared at YourTango.