How Can I Be Kinder? Be awake! Thoughts for World Kindness Day

Most of us want to be kinder, but think we don't have the headspace or the resources. But kindness doesn't have to be all or nothing. It can be simple things, and opportunities (if we're awake to them) are everywhere).

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There’s a homeless woman who sits outside of my local supermarket selling The Big Issue. She’s been here a few years, and we acknowledge each other when I walk by. I’ll give her a smile. And when I have the chance, I’ll give her some money, a voucher or bring her a treat from the store. She nods appreciatively. There’s a lot of warmth in those wordless exchanges. She’s not so confident about her English.

Yesterday it was freezing. I walked by, smiled and gave her a fiver. She said, ‘Wait please! I have for you something.’

She dug in her bundle and handed me a handwritten card, sending me a prayer and a blessing for helping her. She thanked me for acknowledging her; for not just walking by.

I was touched. She chose to give from where she was, not waiting till she had ‘enough.’

Even when it feels like we have nothing to give, we always have access to kindness and good wishes. Opportunities are everywhere when we’re awake to them.

Wellbeing isn’t just about eating our greens and moving our butts. Acts of kindness boost our happy hormones and generate calm and connectedness. In short, doing good is actually good for you. Bonus!

My mindfulness teachers suggest that kindness is a form of meditation. These acts are opportunities for exploring our own reactions and responses. As part of my home practice, I’ve been invited to do acts of kindness and to observe the effects on myself.

They can be simple things - saying 'thank you,' letting people merge in traffic, being on time, being patient.

I’m finding that being kinder than necessary – especially if my judgmental inner voice is saying, ‘they don’t deserve my kindness, look how badly they’re behaving!’ – I’m finding that’s when it feels especially good.

I don’t need to make kindness conditional.

I am kind because it is who I choose to be, not because someone deserves it.

Doing what makes my heart soften and stay open is the way that I choose to live. If I listen deeply to what my heart wants to express, it’s about our relatedness. The more I allow myself to receive support from others, the more I open to living consciously in a kind and connected way.

And I’m finding this is FUN (remember fun?), this being tuned into the cosmos for opportunities to express my kindness and connection. It’s being in the moment, being awake. It’s switching off the autopilot.

Kindness is a choice. It's a way of walking through life. It's being awake to opportunities to serve. For me, that’s the message of World Kindness Day.

I invite you to be awake to the opportunity all around you. As the Dalai Lama says, ‘Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.’

Like this? Swing by my website and read my latest blog, 23 Lies We Tell Ourselves.

Thanks for stopping by on LifeLabs. I'm so glad you're here. Speaking of kindness, check this out: FREE Subscription to Psychologies for six months for every year's subscription that you buy. Just call us on 0845 241 5159 and quote the code FRIEND6 and we will give you 10 percent off a year's subscription and you can sign up someone you love to six months' worth of Psychologies magic - for free.

Dr. Mandy Lehto

Coach, Presence Expert, Courage-Builder, Possibilitarian,

Hey gorgeous! Have we met? I'm Dr. Mandy Lehto, speaker, coach and writer who helps amazing people get out of their own way already. Nearly ten years ago, I waved adios to my senior investment banking job in London to help as many people as possible start living their un-lived lives. Nowadays, I spend a disturbing amount of time thinking about overcoming fear and the obstacles we place in our own way (we are bizarre creatures, aren't we?). If being braver, a bit more bonkers, and living on purpose is your thing too (squeal!), lets hang out here, and come for green tea over at mine on