What's Your Kindness Reputation?

News Flash

Have you noticed how trendy and fashionable kindness has become? You can’t walk into a clothing store or gift shop without being met with the words “be kind” emblazoned on sweatshirts, T-shirts, ball caps, cups, posters, signs, and every other variety of tchotchke.

Promoting kindness and advocating for more of it can only a good thing, but is it working? Are people becoming kinder? Many people say no.

Some argue emotions are trending in the opposite direction. Others say certain people don’t deserve kindness. Then there are those who believe lack of civility is acceptable because every word, no matter how inciting or untrue, is free speech. Despite these varying viewpoints, one opinion we apparently all share in common is the view that we personally are kind. Even the haters believe they are kind.

Is it possible we don’t fully understand what it means to be kind? Even if we know the definition for kindness, how do we know if our behavior is consistently kind? Some people enjoy being kind only when the mood strikes them. Others are instinctively kind, sharing the very best of their personal humanity wherever they go. Where do you land?

If you’re the type of person who’s impelled to be kind without any forethought or strings attached, you are kind to your core. An example of this instinct is reflected in a story about Mahatma Gandhi jumping onto a train as it was leaving the station. When one of his sandals got caught and tumbled down onto the platform as the train pulled away, he instinctively tossed his other sandal out the window to the platform below so that someone in need would  find a new pair of sandals.

What would the world look like if kindness was second nature to everyone? How might we feel on a physical and emotional level if every thought was kind toward ourselves and others? Would our lives be filled with more grace and positivity? At minimum, according to science, we would feel less anxious, stressed, and depressed. So developing our kindness muscle is not only good for us, it just might heal the world.

Gandhi famously said, “My life is my message.” In his role as a global figure and in his personal life, he exercised kindness every day, at every opportunity, until it became second nature. We can all follow his lead by doing the same, beginning with extending kindness to ourselves.

Here are six simple practices you can do every day to build your kindness muscle. If done with regularity, you’ll start to see positive changes in your life because kindness is positivity on steroids. But beyond its proven scientific benefits, you’ll also be rewarded with your own standout reputation for being heart-centered and kind to the core. Can anything be better than that?

1. Think one kind thought about yourself every day upon waking. By replacing negative thoughts (especially thoughts of not being enough) with kinder thoughts about what makes you special, you’ll feel energized and happier, and soon you’ll find yourself extending the same kindness to others.

2. Take care of yourself. People who lack good sleep, eat a poor diet, or fail to set boundaries for themselves have little energy to be their best selves. If you feel the world’s on your shoulders, take care of your heart by doing one small kindness each day. It can be as simple as sending a free Youtropolis postcard with a kind thought to anyone you’ve been thinking about.

3. Listen to others without interrupting. This practice is a master class in kindness all on its own. Few people master it, but anyone can with daily practice. While interrupting others is common in our culture, keep in mind it’s still viewed as rude and unkind. It also points to a lack of self-control. Master this one and you’ll earn a reputation for being poised and kind.

4. Praise others without strings attached. Praise is golden. Can you remember how someone’s praise raised your spirits or changed your life? Expressing any thoughtful observation about a person’s idea, solution, skill, talent, manner, or style will make you stand out in a crowd. Praising others is kindness at its best without spending a dime.

5. If you must correct someone or point out their mistake, practice kindness by doing so in private. This avoids embarrassing someone in a crowd of onlookers or embarrassing yourself by looking like an ogre. Humiliating anyone is never necessary in a teaching moment. Modeling kindness is the classy way to go.

6. Never make fun of others or laugh behind their back. Not only is it unkind and mean spirited, there’s a good chance it will get back to them and sour your reputation as a kind person.

Being kind to your core is a narrow path. Stay on the path and keep practicing as if your good reputation depends on it. Strengthening your kindness muscle by remembering to follow the six practice steps above will bring you peace of mind and more happiness. 

The world needs everyone to be kinder. However you bring kindness into the world, you will reap the many physical, mental, and emotional rewards for having done your part.



I don't know that I'll ever measure up to Gandhi, but it's certainly something I can shoot for on a daily basis. I also appreciate your six "tips." They are good reminders to practice that will most certainly make us feel better about ourselves which leads to feeling better about others. And all that adds up to more kindness. Thank you!