Update: Even though World Kindness Day 2020 is not until November 13, with all that is going on around the world with the spread of the Coronavirus, we thought now would be the perfect time to revisit this post.
Stress levels are high, not just because people are afraid, but also because many are cooped up inside. And with that, tempers often flare and it’s hard to stay positive.
What better way is there to spread hope (instead of germs), than to be kind to one another! While some of the suggestions in this post are related to the holiday season, there are many ways that you can adapt them to the current situation.
Most of all, stay active, be grateful for what you have and show appreciation to the people in your lives for all they do. This includes all the cashiers and people working in grocery stores, restaurants and the like who are still working when others are sheltered in their homes. Too often we take these people for granted, but now is the perfect time to show them some love!
Even if it’s a simple smile, thank you and calling them by name.
Throughout my life, I’ve had people tell me that I’m a kind person and/or that I do lots of kind things for others (but don’t worry—I’m still human and have had people tell me I’m actually mean!). I personally don’t think I’m more or less kind than anyone else, but I do think that the way I talk to people and communicate with them makes them perceive me as probably being nicer than I actually am.
For me, kindness can be shown in a lot of ways—volunteer work, gifts, simple acts like holding the door for someone—but the best to show it is to simply sit down with someone and tell them how much you sincerely appreciate them.
I know that that doesn’t sound like much, but, in my own relationships, I’ve found that taking a few minutes to recognize the positive action, tell the person you appreciate it, and then explain the positive impact their actions have had on you can make their day.
World Kindness Day is not a marketing holiday, but an international celebration created by the World Kindness Movement in 1998. It’s an observed day in many countries, including Japan, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates, and it’s a day in which we overlook dividing boundaries—race, religion, political alliances, gender, and so on—and take a moment to remember that we’re all just homo sapiens.
To help you start feeling extra good on this fuzzy-feeling holiday, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite ways to show someone kindness. Some of these you’ll likely know and have done yourself, but some are things you may not have thought about before.
I already mentioned sitting down with someone and telling them how much you appreciate them, but I want to talk about it a little more because this is truly the number one way to give someone that extra special feeling and to positively encourage them to continue their efforts.
Why is saying it so important? Well, there are three reasons. The first is about you. When you think of someone you appreciate, they’ve likely had a very positive impact on your life. Taking a moment to review their impact on you will make you feel good (just as reviewing someone’s negative impact will make you feel bad).
The second is about that person. You might think that your mom knows that you appreciate her, but do you tell her or is she just sort of assuming? Similarly, if your kids help around the house, do you tell them what kind of positive impact that has on you? Even if you think your kids or spouse should be doing chores, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t acknowledge their efforts.
The third and final reason is about the why and how. If you explain the ‘why’ to someone, they’re much more likely to do what you asked (which is good for both parties). For months, I had an issue with my boyfriend where I was responsible for 90 percent of the household chores. I finally sat down with him and very neutrally explained to him why I can’t do it all by myself, and then I explained to him how his helpfulness would positively impact me.
Now we’re pretty evenly split on the chores, but I want to encourage that behavior and also show him that I not only noticed his efforts, but that I’m thankful for everything he’s done to change. When I sit with him and tell him these things—specifically why I appreciate him and how it’s positively impacting me—he feels good and I feel good, and we stay on the same positive course.
You should absolutely tell your parents, your siblings, your partner, and your closest friends how much you appreciate them, and World Kindness Day is a great time to do it. But don’t forget to be specific! When I tell my boyfriend I appreciate him, I’ll usually say something like, “Thanks for cleaning up the kitchen. I really appreciate that because it means I have more time to work on my writing.”
By the way, this isn’t just for families—employees absolutely love to hear that they’re doing a great job, and if you’re specific with them, they feel noticed and like their job actually matters (this is really important for minimum wage earners who have back-breaking jobs, like housekeeping or construction!). I’ve worked some bad jobs with abusive employers (one employer would burn my arms with a hot espresso hopper if I made a mistake. I’m not joking), so I’ve really come to sincerely appreciate bosses who take a few seconds to say something positive.
Said It Already? Buy a Gift
Because I already try to tell people how much I appreciate them, I sometimes like to do something extra special for someone by making or buying a small gift. I used to work at a hotel, and when I was there, I had a coworker who was going through a pretty rough divorce. During her final day at work, our security guard—this really amazing, kind, older gentleman—wrote her a letter and gave her a gift card so she could shop for a new outfit and, as he wrote, “Find a better man.”
She was really touched because the two of them weren’t particularly close, and I knew that he felt really bad for her because she was a nice young lady who just… had a really crappy, uncaring husband.
You don’t have to be super close to someone to give them a gift, and sometimes the unexpected gift from a coworker or acquaintance, especially when someone’s doing through a difficult time, can do a lot for their general outlook.
When I worked as an overnight valet, I would often bring in a big bag of candy for my daytime coworkers because, some days, they’d be just running back and forth nonstop between black-topped lots in the hot, sticky, southern heat. A lot of them would get excited when I brought goodies in, so they’d usually start their shift with a more positive attitude, and I’d end my shift feeling extra good.
If you end your workday feeling extra good, you just know that the rest of the day is going to be great, too.
Not Sure What to Buy? Offer a Service
Sometimes you don’t know what to buy or the situation isn’t appropriate for giving someone a gift. Since World Kindness Day isn’t just about showing your appreciation—it’s about doing kind acts for the sake of simply being kind—you can offer to do something just for the heck of it.
If you’re a freelancer/self-employed and you’ve got a client you really like, offer to do some work for them at a discount or, if it’s feasible, do it for free.
When I was a freelance writer, I would occasionally do some free work for clients that had been with me for a long time. One client, for example, just wanted me to look over a short, extra document that wasn’t part of our original contract. He offered to pay, of course, but the work didn’t take a lot of time, and I was enjoying the project anyway, so I did it for free.
I didn’t offer to do the work for free because I was hoping to get something in return—I just wanted to do it (and hey—not every client is made of money, so sometimes helping them save a little along the way means they’ll remember you and your kindness when they DO have the cash to pay more).
You can also offer to do something for your neighbors, like putting up Christmas decorations on their house. If you have elderly neighbors or a single parent with kids, offering to help them put up decorations might mean a lot to them. I absolutely love to decorate, and I sincerely hope that, when I’m old and unable to climb up a ladder, my neighbors will be kind enough to assist me.
No One Needs Your Help? Offer a Meal
Update: If you are in an area with shelter in place rules, or have any reason to believe you have come in contact with COVID-19, many of these suggestions may not work for you. However, you could still make arrangements to have food delivered from a local restaurant in their area (also helping the small business).
Or you could go to a site like Amazon Fresh, which now includes products from Whole Foods, and place an order for groceries and have them shipped — which would be especially helpful for elderly or higher risk populations.
These options would also work any time of the year, for friends and family who lives afar!
Another super easy way to show off your kindness is to offer your neighbors, friends, or family assistance with the Thanksgiving meal. I know Thanksgiving is still a few weeks ago, but people are prepping for it now.
And just because World Kindness Day is today doesn’t mean you can’t do your best to be kind every day. On Thanksgiving, for example, offer to be the “errand person” who runs out to the store whenever someone needs something.
When I was in college, there was a professor who threw a big Thanksgiving Day celebration every year at his house, and he invited every single student and faculty member from his department. In his email each year, he would say that he did it because there were almost always students who couldn’t afford to fly home for the holiday, or they simply didn’t have family, or they were exchange students looking to experience an authentic, American Thanksgiving.
Whatever your reasons for inviting others over for a homecooked meal, do it! If you have neighbors who’re lonely, disabled, elderly, new to the neighborhood, or you just plain like them, ask them if they’d like to have dinner at your house one night.
Sure, some people will decline all invitations (me), but you can always offer to bring them leftovers or just encourage that person to come over, maybe for a board game and coffee, if they ever change their mind.
Sometimes people think they’re burdening someone by accepting their invite, and, as someone who frequently feels that way and declines invitations for that reason, I can say that being encouraged to just come over anyway is really helpful and nice.
Showing Kindness Without People
Although World Kindness Day is a people-focused holiday, you don’t have to do anything directly with a person (or people) to be kind. I spend a lot of my time indoors and by myself, and I don’t have any neighbors, so there aren’t a ton of ways for me to show direct kindness to people.
There are many indirect things you can do, though, that’ll simply make the world feel better for everyone. One thing I do is keep a gratitude journal. While this is a personal act of kindness towards myself, there is something about the act of being grateful that carries over. With an attitude of gratitude, I find that when I am in contact with people, I am in a better overall mood, and kindness happens naturally.
I happen to live on a highway-type road where people just chuck their garbage out of their car windows (why they don’t keep a trash bag in the car, I will never understand). I absolutely cannot stand litter, so one way I like to show kindness is by cleaning up the sidewalk and roadways. But please don’t pick up garbage with your bare hands. For whatever reason, there are always full diapers on the side of the road. Yuck.
Picking up trash may seem like just a nice, environmentally friendly thing to do, but it makes the roadway look nicer, and anyone who’s walking, jogging, or cycling down the sidewalk will appreciate not having to see garbage. They’ll also appreciate not having broken glass stuck in their shoe or an old, nasty diaper smeared all over their bike tire (ewww!).
Keep in mind that when you pick up garbage, you tend to find things like I.D.s, wallets, lost trinkets, pictures, and other types of needed or sentimental things. I found a young man’s military I.D. once, and then I used Facebook to look him up to let him know I had found it (it turns out that it had fallen out of his pocket when he was riding his motorcycle). Returning something lost always has a significantly positive impact on people!
Those are just a few ways that you can let your kindness show, but if you’re looking for more ways to be kind on World Kindness Day, I recommend checking out the World Kindness Movement’s website and the Spread Kindness website to see how you can get involved.
Are you starting to feel extra good? Me too! Let’s keep those warm-and-fuzzies rolling by spreading kindness to everyone we know.
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August Wright, TopProducts Staff Writer