Being spatially aware has a surprisingly profound effect.
Acts of kindness—we know they’re important not only for others, but for ourselves. They can contribute to a more positive community and help us feel more connected, happier even. But in our incessantly busy and hectic lives, performing good deeds can feel like an unattainable goal. Or perhaps we equate generosity with monetary contribution, which can feel like an impossible task depending on a person’s financial situation.
Perhaps surprisingly, the main reason people don’t offer more acts of kindness is the fear of being misunderstood. That is, at least, according to The Kindness Test—an online questionnaire about being nice to others that more than 60,000 people from 144 countries completed. It does make sense—having your good intentions be viewed as an awkward source of discomfort is not exactly fun for either party.
However, the results of The Kindness Test also indicated those fears were perhaps unfounded. The most common words people used were "happy," "grateful," "loved," "relieved" and "pleased" to describe their feelings after receiving kindness. Less than 1% of people said they felt embarrassed, according to the BBC.
So, maybe with kindness, we need to put our social anxieties away and act without overthinking (to a certain point, of course). Perhaps it’s best to find the simplest actions we can commit to on a daily basis, rather than formulating some grandiose gesture.
Reddit user u/tacoabouttoeat asked the online forum “what’s a small act of kindness that literally anyone can do/practice everyday?” and people gave some brilliantly simple ideas.
Here are eight easy-to-accomplish crowdsourced answers that might bring us one step closer to a more peaceful world:
1. Be aware of your surroundings.
It takes zero effort.Giphy
“Either move with the flow of traffic or get to the side if you have to situate yourself.” – @JoeMorgue
2. Use headphones when taking public transport.
A tune we can all groove to.Giphy
“If you don’t have them - you can go 20 minutes without making excessive noise while sharing a small space with other people.” – @cynthiayeo
3. Give compliments.
Does anyone not like feeling appreciated? Anyone?Giphy
“If you have a charitable thought about someone, even a stranger, say it out loud to their face. It is free, it is easy, and it might be the best thing that has happened to that person all week. Nothing creepy or overtly sexual or flirty, just kind words. ‘That shirt is really your color! Your haircut is beautiful. I appreciate your help, you were a real lifesaver!’ It doesn't cost you anything and it means the world to the people you are talking to.” – @Comments_Wyoming
4. Hold doors open for people.
An instant warm welcome no matter where you are.Giphy
“Makes a big difference in one's day.” – @sconnie64
5. Don’t act on “road rage."
Be like bond. Keep it cool.Giphy
“After several years of commuting I came to the realization that with a few exceptional days, I always got home at the same time. Regardless of how many people ‘cut me off’ or drove too slowly and whatever. I started to just ‘go with the flow’ and always let people in when needed, always give extra room, and just enjoy my music/podcast. Life changing.” – @CPCOpposesAbortion
6. Have patience.
You never know what someone is going through.Giphy
“You never know what someone else is going through. Could be a breakup, their dog just died, granny finally made it to heaven, or maybe mom just broke the news that she's got end stage cervical cancer and has weeks left to live. You never know, so be patient. After all, wouldn't you want someone to be patient with you?” – @mamalion12
7. Thank the people you live with for taking care of things around the house.
No, thank YOU for the "thank you."Giphy
“It doesn’t have to be over the top, but everyone feels better about doing chores when it is noticed and appreciated. ‘Thanks for folding my laundry’ or ‘thanks for always keeping track of our bills, you’re awesome at managing money!’” – @Mrshaydee
8. Leave a place you visit just a little bit nicer than when you found it.
Your future self will thank you for it.Giphy
“Pick up a piece of litter at the park. Give that mat with a pucker ready to trip someone a little tug to get it to lay flat in the business you're at. Let an employee know when you spot a leaky dairy product on the shelves so they can deal with it. Return someone else's grocery cart.” – @BlueberryPiano