Whether you call it sweet, endearing, or the generically sounding nice, acts of kindness have major impact. We can attest to that during the holiday season when our altruistic side kicks into high gear. But post-New Year’s, it’s easy to feel tapped out when it comes to helping others. Instead, we turn the focus inwards — let’s exercise more, cut out the junk and alcohol, finally learn to meditate.
What if you could do something that slowed aging, kept your heart healthy, improved your relationships, and made you and the world happier? Is that a resolution you’d make and keep?
Turns out kindness actually benefits the giver in all the above ways. “We are wired for kindness,” says Dr. David R. Hamilton, a scientist who believes compassion and kindness can change the world because one kind act ripples outward, creating even more good feeling.
After a 2015 marked by inexplicable tragedy, the world could use more kindness. We have some suggestions to stretch your kindness muscle until the end of the month. Do one, do them all. Come up with your own. But let kindness improve your life and the lives of those around you. It’s all-gain, no-pain.
- Get some Zzz’s! Give yourself the gift of rest. Be kind to your body and allow yourself enough time to recharge — especially the moms out there. You’ll be a nicer, happier person for it.
- Snail mail it. An old-school letter is a lovely way to show your parents or your faraway BFF how much you care. It also becomes a sweet keepsake for them.
- Put.Down.The.Emoji. As effective as texting is, nothing replaces the warmth of your voice letting someone know you’re thinking about them.
- Just say “yes.” How many times do you say “no” to your little one(s)? Sure, it’s for their own good, but how about answering their usual question with a “yes” instead of an “I already told you…” Your kids will relish their small victory and be grateful for their cool mom. Tomorrow you can go back to being the meanie.
- Spread the warmth. Be thankful for your cozy home, warm clothes and snug bed. For those less fortunate, take extra blankets, wool clothes and heavy boots to your local association for the homeless or the refugees.
- Babysit. We all know that mom with the wild eyes from lack of sleep and too much coffee. Give her a break! Offer to take her kids to the park for an hour, so they can play with yours and she can get some much-needed “me” time.
- BYOB. After COP21, climate change is on everyone’s mind. Make a simple, but significant gesture by bringing your own bag, basket, or using the storage compartment of your child’s buggy. Come April 1, it will be obligatory in France so be an early adopter.
- Be the ticket fairy. Next time you’re on a bus and someone has forgotten their pass or their wallet, pull out an extra ticket or pay their fare.
- Give it up. So you scored a seat on the Metro during the a.m. rush. See that older woman or man, standing by the doors? Or that mother & child? Or simply someone who looks like they could use a seat? Be gracious and offer yours. Let them start their day knowing courtesy isn’t dead.
- Flower power. Paris winters are notoriously wet, cold, grey, meh. If you notice a neighbor, colleague or friend feeling SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a sweet bouquet of flowers could pull them out of the gloom.
- Step aside. We all want to get out of the grocery store ASAP, but when you’ve got a full caddy, why not let the person with the soda and bag of chips go ahead of you? Try not to judge their dietary habits while you’re at it.
- Don’t flake. Don’t be late. Yep, we’re all busy, but when you make a plan with someone, stick to it. Don’t waste someone else’s time by canceling last-minute or texting 10 minutes before that you’ll be half an hour late.
- Smile. So simple, so effective, so not Parisian. Nothing works faster for spreading good cheer and positivity than a smile. When we smile, our bodies release neurotransmitters like dopamine & endorphins, affecting our own happiness & health.
- Help out the newbie. As expats, we all know what it feels like to arrive to a new city, a new neighborhood, where you don’t know a soul. Reach out. Offer your advice on the best market. Give the number to the local doctor. Tell them the fun things to do in the area, especially if they have kids. Introduce them to others.
- Listen. Your friend shares her woes while you think about what’s for dinner. She’s waiting for your thoughts or advice and you’ve totally spaced. Next time, give her (your spouse, your kids) your full attention and really listen.
- Spare the stick. Tourists are everywhere in Paris. Instead of mocking someone with a selfie stick, offer to take the photo of a lifetime for them.
- Don’t be your own worst enemy. Most of us are! We obsess over the should’ve, could’ve, would’ve. We limit ourselves. We talk ourselves out of greatness, because we’re afraid to fail. Whatever it is, stop! Show yourself love and compassion. It’s where all good things start.