The other day I was having an off day, and upon leaving my doctor’s office decided to treat myself. I pulled into the Starbucks drive thru and asked for an iced coffee. The friendly voice on the speaker said they were out of iced coffee. (Keep in mind it was late afternoon on a Monday. I don’t know what jokes are at that time of day.) He proceeds to tell me he is kidding. I give a forced giggle. As I hand over the three dollars to the bright eyed barista, who looks very much like Caleb from Pretty Little Liars, he grins. He refuses to take the cash and says, “Don’t worry about it. It seems like you’ve had a rough day,” and hands me my giant coffee. This wasn’t Oprah giving me a new minivan or cashmere sweater set, but it did cheer me up. It reminded me sometimes small gestures can have a big impact. We shouldn’t be surprised when another human is kind or empathetic towards us. We should all have higher standards for ourselves. Maybe we can follow that lead and pass it forward more often.
1. Hold a door open for someone. Is it an old lady? A teen boy? A delivery man? Doesn’t matter. Open the door for them.
2. Buy someone a cold beverage. A coworker bought me a can of soda and it was as if I had won the actual lottery.
3. If someone drops something, pick it up for them. This reminds me of the reaching at the same time scene in The Goofy Movie, but I digress. If someone drops something especially if their hands are full or are herding children, grab it for them.
4. Send someone a card or letter in the mail. It will cost you 49 cents. Your grandparents would probably poop themselves with excitement if a card from you arrived in their mailbox.
5. Listen if someone is talking to you. We all do it. We space off. We stare at our phones or TV while someone is trying to share something important with us. Let’s try to look them in the eye and truly hear what they are saying.
6. Let someone over in traffic. I get it. I live in L.A. People are mostly terrible and we are all filled with rage. However, letting one car over when they have their blinker on would be a great deed.
7. Use your normal tone of voice even if you are frustrated about something. Don’t yell at people. Particularly avoid yelling at waiters, cashiers, and children. It never makes any situation better.
8. Try to think of at least one nice thing about each person you know instead of focusing on the bad. Most of the time, we zero in on the faults of people and their annoying habits. We gossip. We judge. We lose our patience. We build resentment. We should let shit go instead. We should encourage.
9. Be grateful. Say thank you a lot. That’s all.
10. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. The oldest rule in the book. I don’t care if this sounds like a list for kindergartners. Adults probably need to be reminded of these more than kids.
The neat thing about kindness is the list is never-ending. You can come up with your own ways to lighten another person’s load. It is always necessary to treat people well.