“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ~ Dalai Lama
When I was younger, it was challenging for me to understand kindness.
I associated kindness with buying and giving material goods. As I’ve grown up, I realize that possessions eventually become clutter—and sooner or later, we neglect them.
It’s not entirely our fault that we focus so much on things—this is how most of us were brought up. But during my travels, which were a combination of interacting with locals and studying Buddhism, I learned that there is something more important than belongings: our basic goodness.
Buying gifts for those we love is certainly an act of kindness, but our good intentions and heart are what make the biggest difference.
Here are a few ways we can open our hearts—and the hearts of others—any time of the year:
1. Listen attentively. When someone tells you something, be all ears. Try not to interrupt, judge, or be the center of attention. At the end of the day, we all want to be heard.
2. Drive mindfully. People can push our buttons when we drive, especially if we’re impatient, late, or having a terrible day. Whether you’re in a car or on your bike, think of other drivers and pedestrians and respect them.
3. Give someone a compliment. A little validation doesn’t harm anyone. Tell someone they’re glowing or that they look pretty—then watch the smile on their face.
4. Be grateful. Say “thank you.” It might only be a two-word phrase, but it makes people feel appreciated.
5. Apologize. Did you hurt someone or cause trouble? Don’t doubt the power of “I’m sorry.”
6. Text someone. There are people in your life who might feel alone or despondent. A short text could make their day. Let people know you remember them.
7. Spread positivity. When we’re being negative, we indirectly spread that negativity to others. Don’t pollute the energy fields around you. Instead, try to plant peace wherever you go.
8. Don’t judge. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. Try to understand the motivation behind their actions or speech. Cultivate understanding instead of judgment.
9. Do something selfless every day. It could be a really small act or something more significant, but remember to think of others at least once a day.
10. Give your time. Our time is one of the most precious things we have, especially since we all lead busy lives. So give it to someone who needs it. One hour of your time could change someone else’s day.
These acts of kindness are special ways to spread joy during the holidays, but it’s also crucial to practice them on a daily basis. It’s a purpose, a goal, a journey, and one we should all aim for.
When it feels challenging to be of benefit to others, ask yourself, “Would I be happy/grateful if someone did this for me?” Then reflect this back to others.
Material goods come and go, but our actions are what matter most. Whether they’re harmful or beneficial, they’re carved in people’s memories, so the best we can do is keep them kind and virtuous—and not expect anything in return. If people reciprocate, that’s great—but if not, we shouldn’t feel discouraged.
Be kind for the sake of being kind.
Be kind because it brings warmth and happiness into your own being.
Be kind because kindness is all there is.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Lindsey Block