Many of us resolved to make 2019 the year we’d practice greater kindness toward ourselves and others. But what does being kind look like? Surely there’s more to spreading peace and love than merely refraining from angry outbursts.
Becoming a kinder person requires action, not just intention. But luckily, even the smallest kind gestures matter. As Aesop said centuries ago, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is wasted.” Take one or more of the following suggestions to demonstrate your commitment to spreading those love vibrations.
1. Donate Your Talent
We all have unique gifts, so use them to make the world a little bit brighter for others. Got accounting skills? Volunteer at a low-income taxpayer clinic and share your knowledge. Paint like Picasso? Join a graffiti mural project to beautify your city (or organize one yourself!) Love to write? Lend your skills to the local paper or start a local novel writing club!
When you use your passion and expertise, you can simultaneously have fun and help others. Plus, you’ll alert community members to both your knowledge and generous spirit, which may open up new employment opportunities or attract potential clients.
2. Spend Wisely
To demonstrate your social consciousness, spend your money at local businesses that support your favorite causes. Shopping close to home shows your environmental savvy, as locally-sourced goods require less fuel to transport. When you patronizing merchants who prioritize giving back to the community, you’ll show business owners you appreciate their acts of kindness, too.
Even if you lack a specific skill that fills a community need, you can still enjoy the emotional satisfaction of volunteering. Local senior centers always welcome new volunteers to help lead group activities or spend time with the elderly.
4. Pay It Forward
Has a stranger ever unexpectedly showed you kindness and made your day? Pay in advance for another customer’s latte to spread love and good vibes. Bake some cookies or prep dinner for a new mom struggling to balance family mealtime with diaper changing.
The list of ways to pay it forward is endless. Have a nervous new co-worker? Welcome her and offer to show her the ropes. See someone struggling with heavy groceries or boxes? Step in and lend them a helping hand. Little gestures do make a big difference!
5. Make Survivor Bags
Those of us who are tender-hearted often stop to hand a buck or two to those who beg for help on street corners or highway overpasses. Go one step further: Visiting your local dollar store and stock up on socks, gloves, personal hygiene items (especially menstrual pads and tampons for homeless women) and snacks. Hand these out to the homeless to brighten their days.
6. Help Homeless Pets
If you’re an animal lover like I am, help homeless pets. Nearly all animal shelters need people to help walk the puppies and socialize the kitties.
Have you noticed a cat or two searching for food in your neighborhood? If you have the means, visit your local animal shelter to learn how you can best help the homeless animals in your neighborhood.
7. Check in With Friends
Sometimes, the people who seem the strongest suffer the most inside. If you know a friend who’s going through a painful breakup, invite her for tea and lend an ear and a shoulder to cry on. Even if your bestie doesn’t cry when the guy she swiped right on ghosts her, don’t assume her calm demeanor means that she’s not hurt. Letting her know that you’re there and you care will help her get her groove back.
8. Think Therapeutically
You can’t pour from an empty pitcher, so part of your kindness resolution must include loving yourself, too. If you find yourself feeling easily frustrated, take some alone time or seek help from a qualified therapist. Even if you’re normally even-tempered, make sure to set aside at least 30 minutes per day to do something just for you. Sweat it up with a new dance workout or relax in a candlelit bath.
Folk music artist Jewel sang, “In the end, only kindness matters.” Our legacy doesn’t consist of the possessions we accumulate or the goals we have accomplished. The love and compassion we share helps us live on in the hearts of others long after we’re gone.