Franklin D. Roosevelt put it well: “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”
And yet, cruel people are everywhere. You see it in the workplace, relationships, families, and on the street.
One thing I find is that many of us mistake kindness for weakness. But who says you can’t be kind and firm and the same time? Many think it’s one or the other.
When we study successful people, billionaires, and athletes, we always talk about their work ethic, creativity, and leadership. Those things are essential, and we can learn a lot from them. But one thing that gets less attention is kindness.
That’s why this article and the following observations are about kindness. Kindness has the ability, more than anything else, to improve your life instantly.
You Don’t Have To Prove Yourself
Yes, you’re awesome. But you don’t have to take every opportunity to prove it to others.
Every time you correct someone, try to make a point when people already get it, or behave in another annoying way, you’re engaging in a pissing contest.
Go ahead and piss all you want. No one’s going to like you any better other than yourself. And we all know that ‘me, myself, and I’ is not a good strategy.
You might have achieved a lot in your life, but don’t let it get to your head. Even if you’re at the top of the world, there’s no reason to rub it in other people’s faces. Be humble.
Mike Tyson put it best: “If you are not humble, life will visit humbleness upon you.”
You Don’t Always Have To Share Your Opinion
People always want to give their views about everything. And that’s cool, there’s nothing wrong with sharing your thoughts.
But most of the time it’s unwanted. Every time you say “I would do this, or I would say that”, stop for a minute and think whether you’re actually helping the other person or whether you are stroking your ego.
It’s fine to share how you would handle something, but the truth is: They are not you. So stop giving advice that no one is waiting for.
People are different, and that means everyone looks at the world differently. Recognize that instead of trying to change that. Just be there for people.
Be Open To Others
We were all born naked, crying, and pooping. If someone looks different, talks different, has less money, or whatever, it’s not a reason to judge them. Instead, be open to them.
It’s unfair to not give people a chance before they even try.
Don’t Take Everything Personally
We get offended too quickly. We say things like: “She didn’t call me back.” “He didn’t say thank you.”
Every time you say that he or she should have done this or that, you’re taking things personally.
Have you ever stopped for a second, and thought that the other person maybe didn’t do it to hurt your feelings? They’re only people—like you.
Understand That You’re Not The Centre Of The Universe
Let’s be honest, we only care about ourselves. But that doesn’t mean the world revolves around us.
We have a tendency to make everything about ourselves. In conflicts, we say things like: “How is that my fault?”
Well, it’s not your fault. Why do you even think that? Oh wait, you think the world is about you — that’s why.
Life is not a zero-sum game. It’s not you against the world. Work together and find a solution.
Don’t Criticize What You Can’t Understand
Bob Dylan said that in 1964. What has changed? Not much: People still criticize the things they don’t understand.
I get it — criticism can be good. But most of the time it’s pointless. Because not everything is for everyone. Some people don’t get you, and they probably never will. And that’s fine.
Criticism is only good if it actually helps someone or some cause. Often, it does the opposite. It divides people instead of bringing them together.
If you don’t understand something — try. That’s all people expect from you, just try.
We all have our own challenges. To you, someone else’s problems might seem like nothing. But sometimes we stop seeing that other people struggle.
If you can’t see that it’s not easy for people, you’re not compassionate. Kindness means empathy for all — even if you can’t relate to it.
Don’t Hold A Grudge
Let’s say that someone does something unpleasant to you. Or maybe someone says something hurtful. Is that person now a bad person for ever?
Do you see how stupid that sounds? Get over yourself and forgive people. Look ahead and realize that every day is a new day.
Show Interest In Others
People are so falsely interested in each other, it’s mindboggling. Many people are only interested in others for one reason: Comparing themselves.
Why else would you always check other people’s Facebook or LinkedIn? Or ask someone, who’s down, how they are? Some people use others as benchmarks. There’s no kindness in that.
Real interest takes real questions. If you truly care about others, you care about what’s going on in other people’s lives.
Listen To Others
How often do you ask a question and you start thinking about something else? Most of us think about what we want to say, or we think of the next question we want to ask.
Most interactions we have are just a superficial exchange of meaningless questions. Break through the surface and have real conversations. Care.
But you can’t do that without listening carefully. Listen to what people struggle with, what they love, how they talk. Try to understand who they are.
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” — Lao Tzu
There you have it — my observations about kindness. One word of caution: I’m no kindness expert. I’m also not Mother Theresa.
But at least, I try. You can try it if you want as well — it’s free.