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How to Be Kind
Kindness is not weakness — in fact, it could be your biggest strength
When we study successful people, we often talk about how driven they are. We praise them for their charisma and their decisiveness. But rarely do we stop to ask: Is this person kind?
Yet I believe that kindness has the ability — more than any other trait — to instantly improve our lives. Many of us mistake kindness for weakness. That’s a foolish misconception. It actually takes great strength to be kind.
Look, I’m no Mother Teresa, but I do try to make it a habit to be kind every day, and it’s paid off immeasurably. Here’s how you can be a little kinder, too.
How often do you ask someone a question and then, before they can utter their first thought, your mind wanders off to some completely unrelated topic? I’ve noticed that most of our interactions are just a superficial exchange of meaningless questions.
To have real conversations — to make someone really feel heard — make an effort to start breaking through the surface. Pay attention to what people struggle with, what excites them, how their voice changes when they talk about different issues. Try to understand who they are.
Don’t constantly inject your opinion
There’s nothing wrong with sharing your thoughts — if your thoughts are wanted. But most of the time, they’re not. Every time you feel like saying, “I would do this” or “I would say that,” stop and ask yourself: Am I actually trying to help this person or do I just want to stroke my ego?
Everyone is different, which means everyone looks at the world differently. Instead of constantly trying to change a person’s opinion, just be there for them.
Let go of your need to prove yourself
Every time you correct someone, try to drive home your argument when the other person already gets it, or behave in some other obnoxious way, you’re just engaging in a pissing contest. You already know you’re sharp, funny, all-around awesome. You don’t need to take every opportunity to prove it.
Stop taking everything personally
We get offended too quickly. When you say things like “She didn’t call me back” or “He didn’t say thank you,” you’re letting negativity get to you. You’re not being a pushover by forcing yourself to stop taking things personally; you’re being emotionally savvy. Yes, you’ll encounter mean people every now and then — just know that the nastiness of others has nothing to do with you.
Don’t hold grudges
Let’s say that someone does something unpleasant to you, or says something hurtful. Are you going to think of them as a bad person forever? Really? Haven’t you ever accidentally (or even intentionally) hurt someone in the past when you were having a bad day? Get over yourself and forgive people. Look ahead and realize that every day is a new day.
We all have our own challenges. Kindness means empathy for all — even if you can’t relate to what someone else is going through. We’re all in the same boat here, just trying our best. Understand that, and you might just become more patient, more compassionate, and a little bit kinder.