11 Old-Fashioned Ways People Showed Kindness That We Should Bring Back
It seems our schedules are so jam-packed these days, there's very little time left over to slow down and be kinder to one another. This is evidenced by our collective bad habits, like running into coffee shops, grabbing our drinks, and running out again — without acknowledging the barista. Or letting phone calls and emails go unanswered for days. Or living in the same apartment/home for years, without ever getting to know our neighbors. (Whoops.)
Of course, we're all busy people who are just trying to do our best. And when we rush around and ignore each other, we're not trying to be rude. But there's plenty of room for improvement.
If you'd like to slow down, and inject a little more kindness into your life, it's easy to do so with just a few small tweaks to your daily routine. "It's important to show kindness because it connects us with others and reminds us of the goodness that's in the world," relationship expert Kait Scalisi, MPH tells Bustle. "And that's something we need, especially now." Here are a few old timey — but still totally relevant — ways experts say you can spread the love.
1. Do Something Nice To Welcome Your Neighbors
The days of popping next door with a Jell-O mould may be long gone, but you can and should acknowledge new neighbors in other ways. "Community is so important to happiness and loneliness is really an epidemic," says Scalisi. "Meeting your neighbors is a small but powerful way to boost both your lives."
So stop by with a bottle of wine, invite them over the next time you're grilling outside, or ring their doorbell and simply introduce yourself. It'll make them feel welcome, and it'll make you feel like a good neighbor.
2. Keep An Eye Out For People Who Need Help
Make a habit of keeping an eye out for people who may need some help, like your neighbor coming through the door with way too many grocery bags. "As you walk down the street, pay attention to your surroundings," author Donna Cameron, CAE, tells Bustle. "Smile and make eye contact. Can you help someone carry their packages or hold a door for them? Is someone holding a door for you?" Simply noticing and offering a hand can really make someone's day.
3. Give Up Your Seat On The Train
Similarly, the next time you're kicking back comfortably on public transit and notice someone standing, consider giving up your seat. Whether it's to a pregnant woman, an elderly person, or just someone who looks extra tired, Scalisi says it's a gesture that never goes unappreciated.
4. Visit Your Friends Unexpectedly
Today, we all feel the need to make plans well in advance, with an exact meet up time and location. But have you ever considered showing up at your friend's place, like people did back in the day?
"Growing up, it wasn’t uncommon to just go to [someone's house] to visit without an agenda other than a chat, especially when people were ill or going through a tough time," Amy M. Gardner, JD, CPC, ELI-MP, a certified professional coach with Apochromatik, tells Bustle. While you don't want to barge in when they're busy, it might be fun to surprise someone, simply by popping by.
5. Truly Acknowledge Everyone You Interact With
It's impossible to stop and chat with everyone. But that doesn't mean we can't look up and acknowledge the people we interact with every day.
"At the grocery store or your coffee shop, engage with the cashier or barista — say good morning, ask them how they are, say thank you," says Cameron.
And do the same for your friends and family, too. When you're out to lunch, for example, put your phone down and give them your full attention. Your friends will definitely notice (and appreciate) the gesture.
6. Let Other People Be Kind To You
To be truly kind, you need to let others reciprocate — even if it feels weird. "We have evolved to a level of self-sufficiency where many people aren’t comfortable receiving," Cameron says. "They simply don’t know how, or perhaps don’t trust the giver’s motives. We need to practice receiving with grace and appreciation, remembering that allowing someone else to experience the pleasure of giving is a true kindness."
7. Call Someone Who Hasn't Heard From You In A While
Has it been ages since you called your sister? Then it may be fun to shock and amaze her by picking up the phone (gasp) and giving her a ring. "In this era of text-heavy communication, it's important to still communicate with someone via phone," author and life coach Jaya Jaya Myra tells Bustle. "It's difficult to convey real emotion and share a connection via text. Taking time to actually talk with people will help strengthen your relationship and bond with them, and leave you feeling more fulfilled about your connection."
8. Flash A Smile
You definitely don't have to walk around pretending to be cheery if it's not in your nature, or crack a smile because some random dude on the street tells you to. But if you're looking for a quick and easy way to be kind, smiling is one of the best ways to do it.
"Smiling brings out the best in people (including yourself)," says Myra. "Smiling is a completely free, quick, and simple way to share something meaningful with another person and make their day better — making it a win-win for everyone. While smiling is apt to improve someones day, it's also been scientifically shown to improve your mood as well." So why not give it a try?
9. Take A Moment To Write Back
You're likely receiving dozens (and maybe even hundreds) of emails, texts, and phone calls a day. So it's not possible to respond to all of them — especially with any kind of detail. But when you can, be that amazing person who always writes back.
"Too many people today ignore others, and let their words disappear into the ether," media specialist Rhonda Rees tells Bustle. "Whenever someone has taken the time to call, or to send out an email, it's always a good idea to make sure to acknowledge their message in a timely manner."
10. Say Good Morning, Even To Strangers
One way to bring your brain back to reality, while making everyone around you feel all warm and fuzzy, is by saying good morning. "If you pass someone, whether it be a co-worker or a stranger, a simple and friendly 'good morning' greeting can put some pep in their step and give them the satisfaction of knowing (at least on a subconscious level) that someone was happy to see them," Caled Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "Sometimes the little things can go a long way."
11. Send "Real" Mail To Your Friends
Since most of us only receive bills and coupons via snail mail these days, it might be nice to bring back the art of letter writing, and give your friends something fun to open.
"Remember how much fun it was to receive a postcard from a friend's or family member's trip? The next time you travel, find the most touristy postcard you could find and pay to send it to someone you love," Scalisi says. "Don't forget to get their address before you leave though!"
Old-school gestures like these have that personal touch, and can show someone you're thinking about them. And really, when it comes to being kind, what more could you ask for than that?