Take a glance at social media, traffic jams, or the latest political election and the first word to come to mind likely isn’t kindness. As etiquette and compassion become less commonplace we have the chance to be a ray of light in an oftentimes harsh world.
Not only is kindness good for society, it’s good for our own well-being. Our mental and physical health, relationships, life satisfaction, and community can all be improved by simply being kind to others. It’s a win-win! Here are a few ways of how you can show kindness to your neighbors:
When you walk down the street these days, it’s rare to be greeted with smiles of passersby. Instead of looking where we’re going and taking notice of what and who is around us, we’re often buried in our phones. Change the norm by putting away your phone and smiling at the people you pass. Get ambitious and say hello!
While many of these idea go hand-in-hand, it’s worth saying that good manners never go out of style! Hold a door for the person behind you, let someone go ahead of you at a stop sign, offer up your seat, shut their garage door when your neighbor leaves it open, say please and thank you, throw in a sir or ma’am to top it off!
Say nice things.
Most people are friendly in person. But then there’s social media. The online community for your neighborhood might look more like a battlefield than viewing an afternoon tea. Challenge yourself to refrain from divisiveness and instead replace it with encouraging words that build others up. Not ready for that? Just remember it was once said that,
if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all!
But what about the neighbor’s that are causing real problems in our lives? Living next to people can be challenging! Instead of reporting issues to your building’s property manager or the city, consider approaching your neighbors politely first (if it’s a non-threatening issue!). Take Candice Benbow for example, a lady who had issues with her neighbor’s loud music. She approached the issue with kindness instead of anger. Taking the high road not only helped with the music, but it opened the door to meeting her neighbor and a dear friendship!
You’ll probably notice none of these ideas are terribly difficult to implement. They take very little time to add into our life, but are easily lost in the shuffle — especially when we’re rushed or stressed. But putting these ideas into practice can create waves of kindness that reach far and wide!
Want to take this challenge to the next level? Here are a few resources to pique your interest:
- The Science of Compassion | podcast on NPR
- Scientific Reasons to Be Nice Online | article by the Greater Good Magazine
- The Kindness Cure | book by Tara Cousineau