10 Ways to Be Kind to People

May 19, 2016

At a recent trip to Coffee Bean, I received a valuable lesson, or rather a reminder, while waiting in line to order.  As I was standing there, I felt a tap on my shoulder and I turned to find a young man smiling at me. He simply said hello and asked me my name, before introducing himself.  I learned that he was from Syria, had come to the states about a decade ago, and had just completed a course to counsel and encourage people who'd had issues with substance abuse. I'll admit that I was suspicious at first to turn and see this person grinning at me (and I carefully studied his face in case I needed to ID him later), but talking with him, this complete stranger, was a reminder of how detached we all are from one another, and how unaccustomed to simple acts of kindness--like saying hello--we've become. I decided to buy my new "friend's" coffee, and he promised to pay next time we bump into each other. Our exchange was brief--just a fraction of my 24-hour day--but it was enough to inspire me to do my part to throw as much kindness out into the world as I possibly can. Here are ten ways to do just that:

1. Pay for the person behind you in line at Starbucks or wherever you get your morning fix.

2. If you have small children, high five their classmates as they file into class. (If they're older this will totally embarrass them, so resist the urge.)

3. Look the cashier or server in the eye and ask how their day is going. And really listen to their answer so that you may reply accordingly. Don't forget to tell them to have a nice day as you leave.

4. Smile and wave at the cars next to you at the stoplight. They might think you're crazy, but at least they'll have a nice chuckle about it later.

5. Buy a box of donuts or cookies and take them to the nurses' station at a hospital. (I would say bake them, but the nurses might be suspicious and throw them away.)

6. Find coffee mugs with inspirational quotes at the dollar store and leave them in the break room at work with a sign that says "Please feel free to use and return."

7. Help an elderly person, a pregnant woman, or a frazzled momma with her kids put their shopping bags in the car. 

8. Before you leave the office, write out a thank you card or note for the cleaning crew to find.

9. Send dinner over to the elderly widower, new parents, or another one of your neighbors who may not have time or energy to cook a nice meal for themselves.

10. Pay as many compliments as you can to family, friends, and even strangers.

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