Want to Make Friends and Feel Happier? Try Kindness!


Photo by*Zara

Are you kind? Kindness is closely linked to happiness: the kinder you are to others, the happier you will be. So, how can we learn to be kinder? Maybe you think that kindness is just feeling warm fuzzies? Well, it’s more than that.

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Kindness means action.

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Yesterday I was standing in line in the supermarket checkout. It was a long queue. I looked behind me and noticed an elderly who looked exhausted.

I said to her, “Oh, you’ve been waiting a long time. Why don’t you go in front of me?”

Her eyes lit up.

“How did you guess my feet were hurting?” she said.
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It’s sometimes easier to be kind to strangers than to one’s own partner. Do you find that too? Perhaps we take the person closest to us for granted. Or may be we’re preoccupied.
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Sometimes we store up resentment from past hurts in a way that prevent us from being kind and towards our loved one. Maybe we fear that we will appear weak. Or we think, “He/she doesn’t deserve it!”

How kind are you to your loved one?
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Sometimes frustration and irritation spills over into our relationship and we become unkind and even a bit vicious. That may erode love in the course of time.
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If you want to be happier, kindness is the magic ingredient.
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The key to kindness is attention.
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Simply put, if you don’t notice what those around you need, you won’t find ways to be kind. Here are some simple ways to practise kindness:
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  • Look at those you love more often;
  • Take a deep slow breath as you look at them;
  • Take your eyes away from the newspaper, laptop, or TV when your loved one or friend talks to you.
  • Actively look for at least one opportunity to be kind to someone each day .
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You might ask, “When is the right time to be kind?”
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Kindness is never out of place.
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There is never a time when kindness is inappropriate. At the same time, you need to understand that this doesn’t only mean being kind to someone else; it also means being kind to yourself. There needs to be a wholesome balance between to yourself and others.

Putting up with abuse from others isn’t kindness! Being a doormat isn’t being kind!
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True kindness is to respect yourself as well as others.
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Some people try and keep a score in relationships to determine whether your partner is as kind to you, as you are to him or her. I don’t think there’s much point in trying to determine that. Qualities like kindness can’t be quantified.
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The true spirit of kindness is to give without counting the cost.
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The magic of kindness is that it not only makes others happy; it also makes us feel happy! Just imagine that you’re bumper to bumper in rush-hour traffic. There is a queue of cars wanting to join your lane. If you wave to a driver and let them merge in front of you, you’ll feel good, and the friendly smile between you will light up your day.

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Some acts of kindness are unforgettable. I remember crying at my mother’s bedside with my son Sebastian. She had just died. Suddenly three of my close friends came in and sat down beside us. For some hours we cried and laughed together, telling each other outrageous stories of my mother. Then they started to organise the funeral for us. That’s true kindness!

What is your experience of giving or receiving kindness?

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Enjoy these related posts:

How to Make a True Friend (Worth More Than 14.6 Cents)

Save the Word – One Breath at a Time

Make Peace: Declare Your Personal Amnesty

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{ 42 Comments }

  1. SpaceAgeSage says:

    I view kindness as almost a living thing, because the action of being kind seems to reverberate through the lives of others. You never know how far one act of kindness will travel.

    Lori

    SpaceAgeSages last blog post..Mindsets can be set or set to change

    • Sunni Chi says:

      Kindness is so hard to find in today’s American Society. With road rage, bullying and just living in this dog eat dog world. Kindness is something that many Americans never in counter. It is hard to even find the old southern hopitality when your in the south. I’m a northerner and you could forget it here. Kindness is given to those friends and family memebers who give it to you. Random acts of kindness are long gone from earth. St. Nick not santa cluts would throw money into random people windows, to help them a little during Christ’s birthday. Mother Teresa would help you out with the kindness of her heart. Those greats are long gone from the eart. We should do our very best to contiue what they started and bring a new rebirth to kindess in our homes, on our jobs and all over our communities

  2. Ari Koinuma says:

    I don’t disagree that we ought to be kind, but I would caution against being kind with the purpose of trying to make friends, as the title may suggest.

    Kindness naturally flows out of a genuine concern for a fellow human being, asking nothing in return.

    When you approach kind acts with the eye toward getting the other person to like you or accept you, know that your act is fundamentally a form of manipulation. An unreliable one at that. Don’t let the thought prevent you from being kind, but also beware that your hidden motive may get disappointed. If you approach someone with the goal of being appreciated, and after you’re kind to the other person, he/she fails to say “thank you.” Won’t you be disappointed?

    Kindness and generosity will naturally flow out of you when your own needs are fulfilled and satisfied. The way to get there can and often involve performing acts of kindness, so you build yourself up with your own approval, not from others.

    As you become more confident and generous, friendships and good will flow naturally, as a byproduct of your own growth.

    Have fun!

    ari

  3. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Lori! (Spaceagesage)
    Yes – kindness is like throwing a stone into a lake. The ripples just keep on spreading.

  4. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Ari!
    I agree that it would be terrible if we used kindness in order to manipulate people into liking us.

    It wouldn’t work. Because it wouldn’t be real kindness and people can sense that.

    On the other hand, gaining friends can be a natural outflow of kindness.

  5. It takes a really big person to practice kindness.

    It’s often thought that those who are the toughest, strongest, etc. are the most rugged and invincible. In reality, it’s those that are the most compassionate that are the strongest, I think. =)

  6. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Jonathan!
    That’s in interesting thought. I wonder whether it’s because the people who are ‘rugged and invincible’ are focussed on their own survival, whereas the compassionate people have the wellbeing of all in mind.

    Though how that makes you strong is an interesting question. I can feel a new post coming on… :-)

  7. I think kindness is so important and that’s why I put most of these things into daily practice. The only hurdle I need to overcome is the frustration I experience when other people are not so kind. I try not get angry but when people around me are thoughtless and inconsiderate, even in the smallest ways, I am very bothered by their behavior.

  8. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Melissa!
    I think frustration with others is something we all experience.

    I try to remember that their thoughtlessness arises from their preoccupation. And their preoccupation arises from their suffering.

    That thought sometimes helps. After all, I can ‘t change anyone else. But I can change the way I am!

  9. Robert Henru says:

    “Key to the kindness is attention” It’s very true… don’t put your attention too much on self, give attention to others.
    Great message!
    Robert

  10. Hi Mary,

    Great article. Of all the qualities I wish to teach my 3 boys, kindness has to be there on top.

    Give kindness unconditionally and the universe definately responds.

    Peace, love and chocolate

    Carole

    Carole Fogartys last blog post..I Dare You To Laugh Yourself Healthy This Month:

  11. Absolutely Mary. Kindness is an action that makes the world right. It quickly moves you into sync.

    Cheers,
    John

    John Rocheleaus last blog post..How Much did You Pay for that Comfort Zone?

  12. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Carole!
    I agree – the universe does respond. Kindness is good karma.

  13. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Robert!
    Attention is the key. I think that’s why many people are not particularly kind. It’s not that they can’t be bothered; they are just so preoccupied with their own problems that they miss the opportuntites for kindness.

  14. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi John!
    You say that kindness “… moves you into sync.” That’s very interesting. Are you implying that kindness and sychronicity are connected?

  15. “Are you implying that kindness and sychronicity are connected?”

    I believe so, yes. I think kindness is one path of many that lead us into a greater experience of natural power, connectedness, and oneness. Synchronicity is part of that.

    I feel that kindness is part of the foundation of right intention and emotion. Without kindness, empathy, compassion, and understanding, the path is dry and intellectual.

    Just my thoughts :-)

    John

    John Rocheleaus last blog post..How Much did You Pay for that Comfort Zone?

  16. Mary Jaksch says:

    Here’s my new post: Want to Make Friends and Feel Happier? Try Kindness!:
    Photo b.. http://tinyurl.com/63uy8a

  17. CG Walters says:

    Very good, Mary. …powerful medicine, kindness….
    Many blessings and continued inspiration,
    CG

  18. SpaceAgeSage says:

    Jonathan,

    I can be rough, invincible, tough, and rugged. Or I can be gentle as can be. I do not see them as exclusive of one another.

    Power and strength do not always mean force.

    A firefighter must be incredible strong, rugged, quick on their feet, but many of them have the kindest souls in the world. I have seen battle-hardened green berets be as gentle as a kitten with helping a kid learn.

    It is insecurity that screws us all up. Without it, we can have gentle strength.

    SpaceAgeSages last blog post..Mindsets can be set or set to change

  19. Shona says:

    What a wonderful thing to be discussing! A true act of kindness goes beyond race, religion, sex, or nationality. It cares without judgement. It has a life of its own that can touch the hardest heart and bring an incredible sense of joy and unity. For me, a day without kindness is a day of isolation.

  20. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi CG
    Thanks for being so encouraging!

  21. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Shona!
    I love what you said, “A day without kindness is a day of isolation.” Thank you for that.

  22. Well stated. Kindness is a prime driver of personal happiness. What goes around comes around…

  23. Ayn Elise says:

    Mary,

    I absolutely agree that ” true kindness is to respect yourself as well as others “. My Gram taught me to always say please and thank you’s to people; no matter how well you know them.

    Certainly that is a tiny bit of daily gratitude toward people in an interaction, but it also keeps me centered in how I feel respect for what people do; even in some little things.

    That may not feel directly tied to respect for yourself, but it can be when one reflects on the value of the respect and kindness going on between you and the other person(s).

    I also feel that kindess, at times, really requires that we take ourselves out of our egos, or not be ego-istic, and not be as caught up in the noise of the daily transactions of life. To really look at some of the simple beauties more often, as well. I find that I can muster sympathy from inside of my house, but I can’t truly be empathetic until I leave the house and take a good look around outside.

    My Gram had an uncanny knack for always knowing when to give you a pat on the arm or a hug. She could see things at that time because she was looking. But, she also always knew the right time to send a card, or call to ask me over for dinner, or to ask what was up. Even if we hadn’t seen each other or spoken for a few days. So for her, I can say I feel that kindness and sychronicity do seem to have had a connection!

  24. Very nice! I think another part of kindness is respect for others. I recently had an experience where someone asked me a question, and in the middle of my responding to her, she fully turned her back on me and started talking to someone else. I was so shocked I had to get up and walk away before I responded rudely myself, to her. True kindness come from deep within. If you aren’t a kind person, it doesn’t take long before others notice it.

    Hope Wilbankss last blog post..How Journaling Can Reduce Your Stress

  25. Ian says:

    Thank you, Mary. It seems sometimes we need to be reminded of what should be obvious!

  26. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Mark and Angel!
    ‘What goes around comes around’- our grandmothers knew a thing or two about life! Those old saying hold compressed wisdom.

  27. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Ayn Elise!
    What a lovely comment!
    The story of your grandmother shows that we have to learn about kindness when we are little. Then we have a kind of ‘kindness benchmark’.

    I see that you’ve taken up John’s interesting thought that kindness and synchronicity are connected.

  28. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Hope!
    Thank you for reminding us that simple courtesy is form of kindness.

  29. Ayn Elise says:

    Mary,

    Thank you for your response. I was lucky enough to have my Gram start that learning process and continue to foster it through our experiences together for a very long time. Her body quit out-lasting her spirit last summer, but I can still rely on the spirit of her and those experiences to get me through some of those times when people do the darnedest things..

    I was already there with what John had said and was delighted to see it. So, I offered a part of my exeriences that make me feel that connection. Empathy also plays a role, too.

  30. Jonathon Mead writes:

    “It takes a really big person to practice kindness.

    It’s often thought that those who are the toughest, strongest, etc. are the most rugged and invincible. In reality, it’s those that are the most compassionate that are the strongest, I think. =)”

    I agree. People who are kind to others are secure. They built up inner strength and humility. No easy task.

    Being seemingly “tough” and rude to others is a showing of weakness as ironic as it may seem. This doesn’t require strength. It requires the path of least resistance.

    (I realize that “tough” doesn’t necessarily mean rude. But it can.)

    To me kindness can be toughness. To have someone yell at you and not to reciprocate is true toughness; it requires genuine inner strength.

    The real deal.

    Bamboo Forests last blog post..What’s The True Value of Blog Comments?

  31. Mary Jaksch says:

    @Bamboo Forest
    I think that’s a really good point that in order to be kind you need to be secure in yourself.

  32. ramtsam says:

    Showing kindness will not only bring friendship, we will have inner peace and satisfaction. Many times we ourselves will be in receiving end. If this reciprocity spreads to the whole world…A paradise here.

  33. Steve Mills says:

    Hi Mary,

    great post and great blog. I agree with your point that kindnewss can often be the simple things we do, like giving those that we care about our full attention.

    I think that is all about putting the ego away for a while, and realising that everyone else is just as important as we like to think that we are

    Steve Millss last blog post..You Are Already Enlightened…

  34. axel g says:

    Hello Mary!

    I like your site.

    The spiritual twist completes the circle.

    Kindness is happiness…

  35. Quickly remove this from your blog!!! “The way the adverts work is that I get a small amount each time you click on any of them.”
    this is against google’s “terms of service” (you can look it up) – and if they catch you (they always do – they are the masters of searching)… you will be banned from google advertising for life.
    you can’t encourage people to click on your ads in any way, and this is a classic one they get people for.
    i hope this helps.
    nice blog
    : )

  36. ps, you can remove all the google stuff from my comment and just have
    nice blog ;)
    cheers!

  37. scratch0scratch says:

    I really enjoyed this blog.

    I have heard it said that if you love someone, it can be your saving grace. Kindness is like love for the world.

  38. I couldn’t agree with you more. Great article!!!

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  40. Barbara says:

    I think kindness is a choice like happiness. In most situations we can decide which would be better — kindness usually wins hands down.
    We have to use our brains to
    be kind, and our hearts follow.

    Thanks for this,

    Barbara

    Barbaras last blog post..Soporific Sunday

  41. I’ve been reading Thich Nhat Hanh on Buddhism and Christianity–he says, essentially, that God, Buddha, enlightenment, etc. are all, basically, metaphors for kindness. At least that’s what I take from it…and it works….

    YogaforCynicss last blog post..Not Saying Anything

  42. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi YogaforCynics!
    That kindness lies at the heart of spirituality is often forgotten.

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  45. pranav says:

    very nicely said Mary, we need to notice the kindness at the heart of spirituality which is very pure.
    pranav´s last blog post ..How to change color, font and size of JRadioButton text in java swing?

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