Advertising
Advertising

15 Powerful Ways to Create a Kinder Mind

15 Powerful Ways to Create a Kinder Mind

Your mindset plays a major role in how happy and successful you are in life. If you can create a kinder mind, you will face fewer mental struggles and make everyone else’s world a little nicer too. Here are 15 powerful ways to create a kinder mental environment, so that you can grow as a person, serve the world, and feel a greater well-being.

1. Let go of perfectionism.

Expecting yourself, or anyone else, to be perfect is not only impossible, but is also very unkind. Cut yourself and the rest of the world some slack. A kinder mind lives by the principle of making steady progress rather than being perfect.

2. Talk kindly to yourself.

Many people criticize themselves way too much. Beating yourself up is a really ineffective way of changing things you don’t like. Have a kinder mind by talking to yourself as you would to a close friend. Being gentle with your speech will also shape the way you view and interact with everyone around you.

Advertising

3. Acknowledge your humanity.

We would all have kinder minds if we stopped struggling with other humans and recognized what is common among us all—our humanity. Whatever conflicts there are between us, we’re all coming from the same place of being a human. We’re all just trying to make our way in the world the best way we know how. Create and enjoy a kinder mind by regularly reminding yourself that no matter what else is different, our humanity makes everyone in the world the same.

4. Help others.

A large part of being kind is being willing to help others who are struggling, but you can also create a kinder mind by offering to assist when you are struggling yourself. Giving someone else a hand actually makes us forget some of our own troubles and feel more grateful for our good fortune.

5. Be kind to your body.

You cannot have a kinder mind if you treat your body abysmally. The mind and body are intimately connected, so to have a kinder mind, you need to be kind to your body. Give yourself a good balance of water, rest and nutritious food to support your mental well-being.

Advertising

6. Make other people’s lives easier.

You don’t have to make grand gestures to have a big impact on the well-being of others. You can do little things to make the lives of people around you easier. Whether it’s doing chores without being asked, filling the car up when you’ve used it, or putting the bins in an easy place for your local council to collect, these simple things can make someone else’s day go a little smoother. Someone with a kinder mind is considerate of others in many small but important ways.

7. Stop judging people.

One of the best ways to create a kinder mind is to stop making judgments about other people, including yourself. If you want to create a kinder mind more quickly, wear an elastic band around your wrist and snap it whenever you notice yourself making a judgement. Replace the judgmental thought immediately with a kinder one.

8. Listen.

One of the simplest things you can do to create a kinder mind is to just listen to others. Take the time to truly hear what other people’s hopes, dreams, concerns, and experiences are. Listening carefully can give you new perspectives and help you to become kinder and fairer.

Advertising

9. Thank your teachers.

Someone who wants to cultivate and spread kindness will make the effort to thank those who have taught and mentored them, and those who have contributed positively to their lives. A kinder mind is created by thanking the teachers who you may have seen as bad or negative. Recognize that they may have taught you even more, and these may well have been harder lessons. Be sure to thank them too.

10. Give and accept compliments.

Giving a compliment to someone just to brighten their day is a really easy way of being kind. A kinder mind will accept any compliments returned with graciousness. Sometimes our insecurities make us want to refuse or reject a compliment. In this case, keep it simple, and just smile and say “thank you” if someone compliments you.

11. Have fun.

Sometimes when we’re trying to develop ourselves, it is easy to make things unnecessarily earnest and dour. Growth is not about being serious or miserable, so have lots of fun as you strive to create a kinder mind. Do things that make you smile, laugh and feel joyful.

Advertising

12. Focus on the good.

In all situations, we have a choice about what we focus on. The negatives and positives are both there—it is always down to what we choose to see. Instead of criticizing people or things, focus on what you like about them, or what you can learn from them.

13. Cherish differences.

It is truly kind to accept and appreciate differences in people—and their tastes, opinions and desires. Create a kinder mind by valuing each and every person and their contribution to the world, and seeing that they are just as valid as anyone else’s.

14. Empathize.

Before you react negatively to anyone else’s perceived flaws or foibles, put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Imagine how it might feel to live with their unique issues, problems and insecurities. Someone with a kinder mind will have compassion for people who act unwisely, rather than condemning them.

15. Validate yourself.

Remember to cheer yourself on in life if you want to create a kinder mind. Before you go to bed every night, validate yourself for the things you did well, the problems you solved skilfully, and the lessons you have learned. A kinder mind is brought about by encouragement and care. Acknowledge how hard you have tried, and give compassion to yourself when things are tough.

Featured photo credit: Young woman wearing glasses laughing in the fall via shutterstock.com

More by this author

When Someone You Love Is Having a Tough Time, Remind Them of These 20 Things 4 Things Meditation Does To Your Mind And Body 10 Signs You Are Under Too Much Pressure at Work Everyone Should Learn The Mindset Of Productive People 15 Smart Things Every 20 Something Should Do To Get The Most Out Of Life

Trending in Communication

1 How to Increase Motivation When You’re in a Slump 2 7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers 3 8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener 4 11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day 5 What Is the Meaning of Life? A Guide to Living With Meaning

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

Advertising

I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

Advertising

I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

Advertising

Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

Advertising

Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

Read Next