The world is a mess, Y’all. There’s corrupt government, unscrupulous business, and so much violence, just to name a few ills. It gets harder and harder each day to keep faith in humanity. At a basic level, it seems that we have lost the basic ability to be decent toward one another. What’s the solution?! I don’t have all the answers, and I can’t fix everyone, but I recommend we start with ourselves, one act of kindness of a time. Here are ten things we can start doing today:
- Give a sincere compliment. – “Come through curls!” “Sis, your work is awesome!” ‘Bruh, I see you doing your thing!” It may be a little dark in the world, but the smiles we put on others’ faces when we affirm them add a little more light each time. Bonus: You know that person you don’t particularly care for? Try making an intentional effort to find something positive about them. It might just change your mind.
- Tell someone “thank you.” – It’s always polite to say please and thank you, but we can go the next step by telling people the impact they have had on our lives. Don’t wait until Father’s Day to tell Dad how great he is. Find that teacher that didn’t give up on you and tell her “thank you.” And be specific! When we name and number the good things people do, it lets them know that their actions were effective and that they should keep doing them. Bonus: Try a handwritten note or a public affirmation on social media.
- Ask someone how they are doing. We go through numerous exchanges of greetings each day, but we don’t always remember to ask how the other person is doing. Or we notice a person struggling, and it doesn’t sit well with us, but we just move on. Even if a person does not want to talk about their situation, your asking will often remind them that they matter. It shows that someone cares that they are ok. Bonus: If they do want to talk and you are able to listen, do so. Sometimes they just need the release of getting out. I find this most often with strangers, who want to talk to an unbiased party.
- Offer a word of encouragement. It can be as simple as telling someone to have a great day, or that you hope the current one gets better. Bonus: Try encouraging someone you normally wouldn’t, like a stranger (or your boss).
- Make an anonymous donation. We all like found money and checks in the mail, right? Here’s your opportunity to pay it forward. It can be as simple as putting $5 in the neighbor’s mailbox when they’ve fallen on hard times, or as generous as paying the check for the table next to you. Doing it anonymously demonstrates sincerity and removes the obstacle of pride for the recipient. Bonus: Don’t have any change to spare? Leave a note on a co-worker’s desk or a mail a card.
- Support a local business/organization/project. Because we like to see other people succeed. Scratch that – it behooves us to help others succeed. Local businesses and organizations are the lifeblood of our communities. If we would just adopt the mentality that if one wins we all win, we’d be so much farther along. Eat at that local pizza joint. Buy some threads from your friend. Visit that church that’s trying to change lives and invest in the people. Let’s dispell the myth that we can only get elevation and celebration outside our circle. Besides, when it’s your turn to come up, you’re going to want the same. Bonus: Want to support your folks, but don’t have the green? Give them some free advertising. Recommend them as often as you can. Share their work and shout them out via social media and other channels you have access to. Rate them on Google!
- Check in with an old friend. People we love cross our minds all the time, but do they know it? For all the modern means we have to stay connect it we are so bad at it. It takes two seconds to text someone and let them know you’ve been thinking about them. Write on their wall or drop a DM. Or pick up the phone! Bonus: Carve out time to see them in person if you can.
- Perform an act of service. We are called to serve, but we don’t often make it a priority. Have you ever considered that some people give money and items because it’s more convenient than giving time? Time is one of the most precious, non-renewable resources you have, so it means a great deal when you offer it. Bonus: Charity starts at home and spreads abroad. Since our loved ones are the easiest to take for granted, they may be most surprised when you lighten the load for them in a special way.
- Give a hug. Quick story: A couple years after I moved to Nashville, I broke an engagement. I suddenly found myself almost 500 miles from home with no family and friends. For the first year or so, it was not uncommon for me to go weeks or months at a time without being physically touched by anyone. Let that sink in. There have been psychology studies (like this one) on the impact of human touch, and many find a correlation between “skin hunger” and depression. Bonus: One of my favorite ways to “hug” people is with my prayers. I’ve always thought that when people randomly come to mind, it’s not a coincidence. Call their names in your prayers. Even if we don’t know what to say or how to help, God does.
- Share your testimony. It’s one thing to tell someone their life will get better, but it’s another to show them. You are the walking embodiment of someone else’s hope. Bonus: Want to take your testimony to the next level? Write about it or record a video, and reach many people at once. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Ian McLaren said it best – “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Now it’s time to be intentional about it.
What acts of kindness will you integrate into your daily life?