Kindness: a checklist

Julie Semrow Sullivan
Nov 15 · 3 min read
By Robert Baker @vegasphotog via Unsplash

We say, “Be Kind.”

I say, “What does that even mean?”

“How do I do that?

There are fluffy greeting cards, endless memes, and quotes out there about kindness. And I truly believe most people want to BE kind!

But how do you make it into a verb and elevate words into action? Here are three vast areas of kindness opportunities if you are up for a challenge.

Listen more than you speak, and when you do open your mouth, do so as respectfully as possible and with the best of intentions. Hear not only what they are saying, but also listen for what they are not saying and focus in on the person. The kindest thing you can do sometimes is to be a fully engaged listener. You may not agree, but the other person leaves feeling heard, and that is a kindness few offer these days.

Show up. Be with a person, whether or not it’s physically, on the phone, or via skype or text, put your focus and attention on them.

Put the phone away. Look up from your laptop. Try to not multi-task: kindness is showing a person matters more to you than a screen. When you give someone your attention, you see things you might not otherwise.

To the best of your ability, BE THERE for people when they go through hard times. Don’t ask what is needed; try to show up and be with them in some way, whether that is in person (the best) or whatever works best for them. Very few people can, or willing to, tell you what they need. Don’t let that stop you — every small act of kindness when someone is hurting in some way is critical

Include others. We don’t like (and won’t like everyone) we meet. Whether at the PTA meeting or in the office, the tendency is to avoid discomfort whenever possible. It’s not always easy to push past those comfort zones. But including someone in your lunch plans, your meetings, your social events, and breaking down those barriers leaves people feeling valued. As someone with children, frequently, the same things that happened on the school playground occur in the office today: way too much isolation.

In the January 2019 article “The Loneliness Epidemic” published by they state “Two in five Americans report that they sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful, and one in five say they feel lonely or socially isolated”…

What are we teaching our children, and how better can we model real kindness so that *these* statistics don’t also become theirs?

We have an opportunity to do so much more, and those chances for authentic acts of kindness are all around us. Smile, Hug, Love Hard, and Be Kind. The world needs you!

Julie Semrow Sullivan

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Writings on making life better, smarter, more fulfilling, happier, and more productive for the whole person…with a side of occasional snark and humor.

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