Kindness is not just a habit for priests and other do-gooders. It’s a habit for all of us. Medical science has proved that being kind alters our body chemistry and brings all sorts of benefits, including improving our mood, lowering our blood pressure and increasing our positive thinking.

Acts of kindness boost production of serotonin, a natural antidepressant in the brain, for the giver, the receiver and those who witness the kind acts. Kindness is such a beautiful thing. Reports actually show being kind not only improves your happiness, but also extends your life span.

To be a better, happier person, you need to be kind every day, all the time. That includes being kind to both those you like and those you dislike or disagree with. If you are unkind to others, it tends to cause more harm to you than to the person you are performing unkind acts to.

The problem with being unkind

Thing is, being unkind fosters negative thoughts. It increases fatigue and raises your blood pressure. You lose sleep and become distracted from important and enjoyable activities, which ultimately impairs the quality of your personal and professional life. Moreover, being unkind makes you feel bad and has an adverse impact on your health. It is simply wasted energy.

So, be kind. Make the commitment to act kindly, speak kindly and live kindly. You’ll be happier for it, as will those around you. One way or another, acts of kindness always come back to you. Besides, there are so many delightful ways to show kindness and make it a part of your daily life.

Here are some ways to make kindness your habit:

1. Smile a lot.

Smiles are contagious. They lift the spirits of people around you. Extra points if you can smile and have a cordial conversation with a homeless person.

2. Say “Good morning.”

A simple good morning accompanied with a pleasant smile creates an instant connection. Even if you don’t know someone, saying “Good morning” is a common courtesy. It shows you recognize their presence and acknowledge they are a person too, important enough for you to say hello to.

3. Spend quality time with loved ones.

It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race and fail to realize you are not spending as much time as you’d like with family and friends. Take time every week – no matter how busy you are – to spend with your loved ones, and tell your family members how much you appreciate them every day.

4. Sacrifice, even in a small way.

Share your lunch with a homeless person, buy groceries for someone in line with you at the supermarket or just help an elderly neighbor carry the rubbish out. These small acts of kindness make someone else’s day.

5. Be generous with compliments.

Compliment and say genuinely nice things to people. Even a small comment in passing can uplift someone, and make you feel better about yourself.

6. Mentor a child or teen.

Someone observed encouraged people achieve the best; dominated people achieve second best; neglected people achieve the least. This is especially true when it comes to an at risk child. Don’t let children go neglected and or dominated. Became a mentor and encourage them to achieve their best.

7. Give the benefit of the doubt

Lawyers insist people are innocent until proven guilty. Make this the default rule in your life. Don’t be quick to judge and condemn others. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t you also want others to give you the benefit of the doubt and not judge you too quickly?

8. Forgive others.

We all make mistakes. No one is perfect or blameless. So, extend grace to those who have wronged you. You will need the same grace extended to you in the future.

9. Pat someone on the back.

A pat on the back can be a way to say “hello” to a friend, a way to congratulate someone for an achievement or a way to comfort someone who’s had a bad experience. It’s a beautiful gesture that lets others know you care. People thrive on such physical contact. Consider giving free hugs, too.

10. Be patient and polite on the road.

When a driver needs to make a turn, change lanes or merge into your lane, let them through with a wave and a smile. And if another driver makes you angry, let it go instead of retaliating. Letting go can make a big difference.

11. Thank your employees.

Nothing shows good leadership, great communication skills and depth of character quite like a boss who is not afraid or shy of saying thank you to his employees. Bring your assistant coffee. It shows deep appreciation and can go a long way in strengthening your work relationship.

12. Bring your coworkers a special treat.

Similarly, show appreciation to your coworkers. Bring those donuts, cookies or a homemade treat. Small surprises and tokens of appreciation spread good cheer in the workplace and build comradeship.

13. Let someone go in front of you.

Many times we encounter a situation where we are required to wait in line. Whether it is at the bank, in the supermarket or at the airport, waiting in line can be frustrating, tedious and irritating. Ease that tension by letting someone go in front of you. It helps make someone’s day a little better.

14. Offer the handyman a drink or snack.

We’ve all had to call a handyman to help us out with things like a leaky faucet that needs fixing, a furnace that needs replacing or a lawn that needs mowing. Offer them a drink or snack. Don’t forget the delivery person. Give a fruit and let them know you appreciate the work they are doing for you.

15. Embrace your own mistakes.

Love and be kind to yourself too. Accept that you are human and will make mistakes sometimes. Instead of being hard on yourself for making a mistake, ask yourself what you can learn from it. Make amends where applicable and move forward. It won’t help anyone to dwell on mistakes and feel guilty about them. As John Powell rightly said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

Set a Goal For Yourself

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