Recently it has been so easy to focus our attention on the negative actions of others and perhaps even feel cynical about people in general as opposed to seeking out the positive in the situation.
There is no doubt that there are mean spirited people in this world and those who don’t seem to care about anyone other than themselves. Yet, in my experience, there are so many really good people who truly care about others and go out of their way to be kind—if you choose to look for them.
We’re not talking about the extreme sort such as terrorists who kill people or someone who is clearly courageous and heroic like Rahman Perkins from the Hoboken train accident a couple of weeks ago. We’re talking about the everyday people who cross our paths.
Don’t Overlook the Goodness in People
So often I hear people say things like “People suck” or “I like animals much better than people”.
We tend to remember:
- The people who cut us off on the road as opposed to those who allow us in the lane.
- The people who slam the door in our face as opposed to those who open the door for us.
It is human to remember the experiences that bother us and trigger a negative emotional response yet we would be better emotionally served to pay more attention to the simple acts of kindness of everyday people.
I personally see the goodness in others and I tend to come across such people in my day to day travels through life. It’s not that I am deluding myself regarding some of the darkness that does exist in our world yet I truly believe in my heart in the goodness of others.
Is it no wonder then that I am so often a recipient of kindness? My friends and people that I know often ask me this question: “How come people are so nice to you?”
It is not because I am so special, it just may mean that I love people and know that most are intrinsically good and kind. Thus, I see this wherever I go. I feel blessed each day to be the receiver of kindness.
It’s the Law of Attraction
What we put out into the world, we receive back. Also though, it’s important to recognize where we choose to focus our attention. Perhaps kindness has always been right in front of us and we’ve yet to notice.
Are we certain that the cup is half empty? Or have we realized the cup is half full? If we’re putting our attention on people who are ignoring us or people who are frowning—we tend to see this negatively.
If I smile or say hello to someone, they’re bound to say hello back. If I’m frowning or looking at the ground, people are reticent and not comfortable in initiating a kind gesture. Sometimes we make assumptions about others by their appearances and body language but that doesn’t mean they are not a kind person.
Jennifer Willis-Rivera PhD, Development Manager of Random Acts.
Make kindness a habit.
“Once you’ve established that habit, opportunities seem to crop up more and more frequently — and in a world where negativity and sour news is so often the norm, it might just help to escape every now and then to a place where that negativity, if only for a short while, has been irrevocably put on hold.”
I find that when I come to a situation open heartedly and maybe smile, that people respond in kind. Even those who might normally be guarded or might generally look away.
Tips on How to Fill Your Cup to the Brim with Everyday Kindness
Begin to look at the everyday people in our lives who may be helpful and recognize these as the kind gestures that they are.
- The neighbor who offers to take our child to school because we need to go into work early.
- Our parents who offer to take the children overnight so we can have a romantic evening with our partner.
- The coworker who offers to take some of our workload if we are inundated with work.
- When our partner cleans the bathroom before we come home from work.
- When a friend prepares coffee exactly how we prefer it.
These are simple acts of kindness that we might take for granted. We might not even view them as kind but instead as ordinary, predictable gestures.
Brighten Your Outlook with Mindful Positivity
When we are able to notice and be mindful, appreciate the little positive things in our life that happen to us, the world may feel like a brighter place. If we consistently focus on the negative people or experiences that we have, then we are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, resentment, or frustration.
This isn’t to encourage putting our heads in the sand and being in denial about some of the harsh things that occur in the world. This is just suggesting that there are truly a lot of heart centered, kind, caring people in our immediate space that we sometimes overlook because we are so focused on the negativity.
Simple Acts Can Warm Your Heart in a Big Way
Little yet profound things remind me of the kindness and goodness in others. When we notice and put our attention to the little positive experiences in our lives, as opposed to putting our attention primarily on the negative ones, we find that people are really good and kind.
- I feel good when the neighbor waves and says hello.
- When the sanitation crew brings my garbage can up to the garage.
- I love when I go to a favorite restaurant and the maître de lights up when he sees me and remembers my favorite dish.
- When a salesperson greets me with a smile of welcome at my favorite store.
So take a minute and think of the little kind things that occur in your everyday just as I do and you might find yourself amazed with the kindness surrounding you.
If you struggle to find kindness buried beneath the weight of the negativity of the world, speaking with a trusted psychotherapist at Nassau Guidance & Counseling located on Long Island can help alleviate that burden. Our licensed therapists have helped many people discover the good things surrounding us every day, thus improving emotional health and wellbeing.