We are all in this together, so always be kinder than necessary. What goes around comes around. No one has ever made themselves strong by showing how small someone else is. Everyone you meet is learning something, is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something. Know this. And be extra kind today.
In other words, don’t just preach online.
Actually do the difficult things, too.
Be compassionate in whatever way you can.
Be a beacon of hope to people you pass on the street.
Embody what you preach.
Many of the kindest gestures you’ll ever make, and the most important things you’ll ever do, won’t come easy and will never be seen publicly.
Do them anyway…
1. Start being a source of sincere support.
The closest thing to being cared for is to care for others. Again, we are all in this together and we should treat each other as such. The very demons that torment each of us, torment others all over the world. It is our challenges and troubles that connect us at the deepest level.
If you think about the people who have had the greatest positive effect on your life—the ones who truly made a difference—you will likely realize that they aren’t the ones that tried to give you all the answers or solve all your problems. They’re the ones who sat silently with you when you needed a moment to think, who lent you a shoulder when you needed to cry, and who tolerated not having all the answers, but stood beside you anyway. Be this person for those around you every chance you get.
2. Start going out of your way to show respect.
Life’s greatest privilege is to become who you truly are. You have to dare to be yourself, one hundred percent, however anxious or odd that self may prove to be. The people who support you in doing so are extraordinary. Appreciate these people and their kindness, and pay it forward when you’re able.
Never bully someone into silence. Never victimize others for being different. Accept no one’s close-minded definition of another person. Let people define themselves. You have the ability to show people how awesome they are, just the way they are. So act on this ability without hesitation; and don’t forget to show yourself the same courtesy.
Ultimately, how far you go in life depends on your willingness to be helpful to the young, respectful to the aged, tender with the hurt, supportive of the striving, and patient with those who are weaker or stronger than the majority.
3. Start leading with the truth.
Trust is the bedrock of all healthy communication, and when trust is broken it takes a long time and commitment on the part of both parties involved to repair it and heal. The key thing to remember here is that secrets can be just as deceitful as openly telling a lie.
All too often, Angel and I will hear a course student or a Think Better, Live Better attendee say something like, “I didn’t tell him but I didn’t lie about it, either.” This statement is a contradiction, as omissions are lies. If you’re covering up your tracks or withholding the truth in any way, it’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out and trust in the relationship completely breaks down. So speak the truth openly and kindly, always.
4. Start communicating clearly, without needless drama.
Frequent name-calling, threats, eye-rolling, belittling, mockery, hostile teasing, etc. In whatever form, gestures like these are poisonous to a relationship because they convey hate. And it’s virtually impossible to resolve an interpersonal dispute of any kind when the other person is constantly receiving the message that you hate them.
Also, keep in mind that if someone makes a mistake and you choose to forgive them, your actions must reinforce your words. In other words, let bygones be bygones. Don’t use their past wrongdoings to justify your present righteousness. When you constantly use someone’s past wrongdoings to make yourself seem “better” than them (“I’m better than you because, unlike you, I didn’t do XYZ in the past.”), it’s a lose-lose situation.
Replace your negative thoughts with positive communication! Because the truth is, if you’re throwing hateful gestures at a person instead of communicating with them, there’s a good chance they don’t even know why you’re being so mean.
And remember, the single greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. When we hear only what we want to hear, we’re not really listening. We must listen to what we don’t want to hear too. Because that’s how we grow stronger, together.
5. Start tuning in, especially when you feel like tuning out.
In other words, no more silent treatments of any kind!
Tuning out, ignoring, disengaging, refusing to acknowledge, etc. All variations of the silent treatment don’t just remove the other person from the argument you’re having with them, it ends up removing them, emotionally, from the relationship you have with them, and the understanding you hope to reach.
When you’re ignoring someone, you’re really teaching them to live without you—to ignore you right back. If that’s what you want, be clear about it. And if not, tune back in!
6. Start giving people your undivided attention while you’re with them.
You don’t have to tell people that you care, just show them. In your relationships and interactions with others, nothing you can give is more appreciated than your sincere, focused attention. Being with someone, listening without a clock and without anticipation of results is the ultimate compliment. It is indeed the most valued gesture you can make to another human being.
When we pay attention to each other we breathe new life into each other. With frequent attention and affection our relationships flourish, and we as individuals grow wiser and stronger. We help heal each other’s wounds and support each other’s growth. So give someone the gift of YOU—your time, undivided attention and kindness.
7. Start giving more recognition and praise (in public).
Give genuine praise whenever possible. Doing so can be difficult, yet it’s a mighty act of service. Start noticing what you like about others and speak up. Having an appreciation for how amazing the people around you are is extremely rewarding. It’s an investment in them that doesn’t cost you a thing, and the returns can be astounding. Not only will they feel empowered, but also what goes around comes around, and sooner or later the people you’re cheering for will start cheering for you too.
Finally, be sure to follow this rule: “Praise in public, penalize in private.” Never publicly ridicule someone when you have the option not to. If you don’t understand someone, ask questions. If you don’t agree with them, respectfully tell them. But don’t judge them behind their back to everyone else.
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