Kindness is a choice. In our modern world sometimes it seems that the most important thing we can be is “busy”. Along with the business comes stress and short tempers and behaviors we may not like to see in ourselves. Are we too busy to be kind?
Our overloaded plates force us to make choices that may not be in the best interest of those around us, or even ourselves. Rush here, rush there, and suddenly we are in a hurry to go even faster. We feel stressed, and all too often, take it out on anyone in our immediate surroundings. Perhaps we snap at our spouse, our kids, coworkers, the store clerk.
The result is that we leave them feeling unhappy, and when we have a moment to reflect, we realize these negative interactions have left us unhappy, too.
What can we do to change the scenario?
It’s time to take a step back and rethink our behaviors – and our motivations. It’s time to remember that no matter how busy we are, we are still capable of being kind. We can choose to be kind even when we are busy.
We just need to refocus our intentions.
“Always be a little kinder than necessary.”James Barry
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How to Be Kind Even When We Are Busy
If you are ready to focus on being kind, despite a busy life, there are some steps you can take. Consider how well you do each of the following actions and how you can improve on each one. You may not do them perfectly or consistently at first. Make the effort anyway. Use them as a launching point for your efforts to be kind.
Be a Better Listener
Sure, you have your own thoughts to distract you, and things you want to say. However, learning to focus on whoever is speaking shows politeness and that you’re interested in what they’re saying. It shows that you care about the speaker.
But here is the catch – too often, we listen in order to respond. That pulls the focus away from kindness, and puts the attention onto you. In order to be a better – kinder – listener, it’s important to listen in order to understand. To hear the message that person is sending. To know the purpose of sharing that information.
Be kind by listening to understand the message, not simply to respond.
Slow Your Pace
The pace you’re keeping can cause you to overlook the feelings of others. Too much rushing about shows no kindness to others – or to yourself. What can you cut back on in your life so that your pace isn’t always so frenzied?
Being busy does NOT make you more important, more vital, more necessary. It just makes you more busy. Slow it down a bit, notice who is around you. Breathe deeply. Have a moment for yourself.
Take a moment to be aware of life outside of your internal freeway.
Acknowledge The People Around You
It’s easy to make eye contact, smile, and say “good morning” as you walk past someone. You don’t even need to slow your pace for this. Simple acknowledgements of the presence of others is the kind, human thing to do.
We can never really know what is going on inside someone else’s heart and mind. The smile you give just may be desperately needed by someone else.
A fraction of a second of effort by you might mean everything to the person who receives your smile.
Don’t hold back, because you can’t tell who needs acknowledgment the most at any given time.
“You can never know the ripple effect you create with one tiny gesture of kindness.”Elle Sommer
If you notice a person is struggling with grocery bags, suitcases, etc. – offer a helping hand.
Say a kind word to a young mother whose toddler is throwing a tantrum. It can be invaluable in reassuring her she’s handling the situation well.
Hold the door open for anyone – young, old, male, female. It’s a simple act of kindness that everyone can appreciate.
You never know when, sometime in the near future, you might benefit from the kindness of a stranger yourself.
Share Something Tangible
Your coworkers will feel the kindness from your very soul whenever you present them with a home baked snack from time to time.
Your next door neighbor will be overjoyed to find her driveway cleared from last night’s snow.
The friend with the newborn will shower you with thanks if you drop off a pre-cooked dinner.
Flowers or vegetables from your backyard garden. Freshly baked cookies. The book you just finished reading that you found inspiring. The “what” isn’t so important. It’s the message that you send when you share something of yours with someone else.
Sharing something of your own with others is a kind thing to do. It says, “I care about you.”
Think About What Kindness Means to You
When you occasionally reflect on what kindness means to you, you’ll be better able to practice the virtue in your daily life. Consider how closely patience and kindness are related: in order to be kind, you’ve likely got to be patient with others, no matter what else is going on in your own life.
Choose to be patient. Choose to be kind.
Think about how you are impacted by both patience and kindness as a reminder of why they are considered to be such important virtues.
Find a Kindness Role Model
Do you know someone who’s exceptionally kind to others? Consider the ways that person displays kindness, and see if you can learn from them. Perhaps you can find some new ideas you can use as well.
It can be a well-known role model, such as Mother Teresa, or someone you know personally who inspires you.
Use an Affirmation
Make kindness an integral part of who you are with a powerful affirmation. Start with the most basic one of all, and repeat these three little words several times a day. Let them seep deep into your soul until you feel the undeniable truth to them.
“I am kind.”
Read More about Kindness:
- What is Kindness and Why is it Important?
- Life Lessons for Everyday
- Kindness in a Time of Crisis
- 21 Simple Steps to a Happier Life
Final Thoughts on Are We Too Busy to be Kind
Being kind to others is an easy virtue to practice. It doesn’t take a lot of work or effort. However, if you decide to apply the suggestions above, you’ll discover just how wonderful it feels to be kind. You will know, without a doubt, that regardless of how busy your life may be, there is always time to be kind.
And while being kind is good in and of itself, your kindness will often be paid back with more kindness that makes your life easier. In that sense, being nice to others has double benefits!