Kindness is my favorite therapy. Whenever I’m stuck in my head rehashing problems that may or may not exist, I find that doing something for someone else pulls me back to reality. I find myself becoming more centered, grounded, and focused on what’s important. It doesn’t have to be big, expensive, or even planned in advance. For me, kindness is a gift that returns twofold. The trick to getting the most out of being kind is not expecting anything in return. When you set yourself up for unrealistic expectations, your altruistic intentions can completely backfire.
There are lots of ways to spread a little kindness every day. The best part about it is that they are all completely or nearly free. I promise that it won’t just make the recipient feel better, it’ll make you feel great too.
- Bad Jokes. Nowadays they’re popularly called “Dad Jokes”, but you don’t have to be a dad to drop your favorite groaner on someone who needs a pick me up. We travelled to a destination wedding for some favorite friends a few years ago. My Rob was a groomsman and I helped out with hair and makeup for the bridal team. After the ceremony, we were getting ready for the reception when some drama got stirred up with a guest. My friend was overwhelmed and started to panic. Without hesitating, we got her a drink of water, sat her down, and I started telling her my favorite awful, inappropriate joke. In moments she was able to focus and giggle at the absurdity of the joke and the entire situation. Soon she was back to her gorgeous self and the party kept rolling on. It’s not one I would pull on anyone anywhere, but it was the right pun at the right time and it worked its magic.
- Eye Contact and a Smile – I used to work in a bunch of retail settings. It was routine to just concentrate on the speed of the transaction, but I found that adding kindness made the speed less important. Look at the person in the eyes and smile rather than staring at the stuff on the conveyor belt. It makes the interaction positive rather than robotic. I remember going out of my way to be extra helpful to the kind people in the mall over the ones who treated me like I didn’t exist.
- Stickers and Candy – My favorite candies are the strawberry ones that are wrapped up to look like strawberries. You know the ones, they’re in the category of classic grandma candies and have a chewy center. I stock up on mine at the Dollar Tree store and always have a dish on my desk at work and a few in my purse or pocket. There is nothing better than seeing someone’s eyes light up when you hand them a strawberry candy. Time and again they exclaim how much they love these little things and ask where you got them. I guarantee that when you’re handing out one, someone else is going to see and you’ll hand out at least two more. They’re addicting! Something else that’s always on my desk or in my wallet is a sleeve of stickers. Doesn’t matter what they are, but personally my favorite are the scratch and sniff ones. I love putting stickers on papers and quizzes and just watching my students react. Even though they are adults who can buy lottery tickets and drive cars, they immediately turn into kiddos who can’t wait to peel that sticker off the paper and put it someplace special like their shirt or their notebook. When was the last time you got a sticker? Imagine what affection you can share with a gummy little picture. I get my favorites at the craft store in booklets that have around 500 for a buck.
Kindness doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. Hopefully you can take any of these ideas and share your care on a daily basis. Small steps in the right direction will take you far my friend. If all else fails, remember what’s brown and sticky? A stick!