In her book The Art of Kindness, author and illustrator Meredith Gaston writes about the importance of kindness in a healthy, happy life. Below is an excerpt from the book listing simple acts of kindness to improve your home, workplace, and community.
1. Give genuine, creative compliments to your loved ones, especially ones you know will make them feel really good. We should never become so familiar with those closest to us that we forget to notice and admire them as they deserve.
2. Take the initiative to do little jobs around the house without prompting, such as washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, making a cup of tea for a loved one, or making the bed with care.
3. Make time each day to listen to your loved ones with your undivided attention. Set aside all distractions and listen actively without judgment or interruption. This practice allows your home to become a safe haven for openness and communication.
4. Make special effort to notice people who need to be included and welcome them in. Nobody should feel lonely. Just imagine how you would feel if you were the one on the outer.
5. Write thoughtful love notes to your partner, children, or friends for no particular occasion, and dispatch them liberally.
6. Look up from your device, make eye contact, and say hello — it makes a world of difference. Colleagues can pass one another daily, not knowing one another by name. We enrich our own and each other’s lives when we care enough to greet one another and wish each other well.
When we are observant, we notice all the more chances in daily life to ease the paths of others with whom we share our world.
7. Bring passion and dedication to your work. Half-hearted work or begrudging effort will never change the world, or our lives, for the better. When you use your creativity and focus to make positive change you spread joy, no matter what you do.
8. Be generous with your time and energy wherever possible. Volunteer, be involved, share your resources and talents, and connect with younger and older community members alike in ways that uplift and inspire. Check local papers, community boards and websites to find ways you can bring more kindness to your local community.
9. Be aware of friends’ circumstances and offer your encouragement as they pursue their goals and dreams. Call simply to say hello, or just to check if they’re doing okay.
10. Find ways of swapping and sharing resources in your community, pooling together so that fewer "things" are required to meet your community’s needs. You may have a lawnmower your neighbor doesn’t have, but they may have a canoe you could borrow for an afternoon adventure!
11. Be kind on the road. Leave a little earlier so you don’t need to race or stress. Refrain from expressing your unresolved rage on the road and find ways to breathe through inconveniences. Let life go on.
12. Show less-mobile passengers respect on public transport by offering them your seat before they can ask. Help someone up if they fall. If you’re in a position to help, assist a person struggling to carry something heavy. If the person behind you has a few items at the market and you have a whole trolley, let them go before you. Being observant is part of being respectful. When we are observant, we notice all the more chances in daily life to ease the paths of others with whom we share our world. ●
Excerpted from The Art of Kindness: Caring for Ourselves, Each Other & Our Earth by Meredith Gaston, with permission from Hardie Grant Books.