4 Small Ways to be Kinder This Month
posted on May 19, 2020 | by Sanhita Mukherjee
No matter where in the world you are, I’m going to take a guess and say that the last few weeks have been tough. When I hear people talking about this being the ‘new normal,’ I cannot help but feel how wrong that sounds. The fear of loved ones falling ill, the potential financial uncertainties, the feeling of loneliness and isolation—none of that seems normal in any way.
While there’s not much we can do to change things (except stay home and practice extreme caution), I think we can all do with a little more kindness right about now. And the best way to make the world a kinder place is to spread some kindness yourself. Here are 4 ways to do just that, this month.
Do not judge or trivialize other people’s issues
Over the last few weeks, I’ve come across several people on social media who have taken it upon themselves to ‘call out’ other people’s privileges and use that to trivialize their issues. In fact, I’ve seen people wondering why anyone who is healthy and financially secure might be finding this time tough at all. ‘Because they need to get some perspective,’ is often the answer.
Unfortunately, stress, grief, and anxiety do not quite work that way. Yes, there are people in extremely vulnerable positions who are having an objectively worse time of it than others. But that does not make things any easier for someone who is going through something difficult despite enjoying all the basic necessities. So if you are looking to be a little kinder this month, try being more open to someone who says they are having a tough time. Do not shame them for feeling stressed out or tell them how privileged they are. Try understanding where they are coming from and offer to help in any way you can. Even listening goes a long way when someone just wants to vent. And definitely do not brush away their worries by asking them to ‘just be positive’ or ‘be grateful’ instead. Think about how your words might impact someone who may seem privileged on the surface but may be facing a difficult situation at home or struggling with mental health issues.
Try to let go of your own guilt
Following from the previous point, don’t forget to extend the same kindness to yourself, too. Sometimes, when you’re dealing with something big (like, you know, a global pandemic), seemingly insignificant things can feel overwhelming. And the guilt follows soon after. Guilt over being upset about something small when others are going through so much worse. Guilt over not being productive enough. Guilt over not leading a healthier lifestyle.
This month, be kinder to yourself by letting go of the ‘shoulds.’ It’s ok to not go about in a whirlwind of new skills, homemade meals, and checked off to-do lists. It’s also ok to feel bad about the little things sometimes—canceled plans, lost opportunities, and the fact that you miss the small rituals like brunch with your girlfriends. You should be able to grieve the things you miss without simultaneously feeling horrible about yourself.
Reach out to your extroverted friends
As a classic introvert, I feel like I lucked out a bit here. While the overall situation is terrifying and the uncertainties are a nightmare, the actual staying-at-home bit has largely been quite ok. If you too are an introvert like me, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. But this also means that your extroverted friends are finding things way more challenging than you are.
So another way to spread kindness this month is to reach out to those friends and make sure that they’re doing ok. Give them a long call, order a care package to be delivered to them, or even (gasp) get on that video call! Don’t forget to regularly check on anyone who is isolating alone too. Being completely cut off from loved ones can be extremely tough on anyone, irrespective of where they fall on the Myers-Briggs scale.
Stop forwarding negative content
By this time, all of us must have received and read several articles that paint a pretty bleak picture of the future, the global economy, and daily life in general. Now, I’m not saying bury your head in the sand and ignore every piece of content that talks about anything remotely negative. But do consider the advantages of forwarding yet another article to your friends, telling them how ‘things will get worse before they get better.’ Will it help them in any way? Do they not know this already? Does the article carry some brand-new information that directly impacts them?
If not, then maybe avoid forwarding such content this month. A lot of the time, people forward these things as a way to stay connected and to know that someone else is in the same boat. But given the situation we’re in, maybe the kinder way to go about it is to find ways to form connections that are a bit more positive. Send them things that you think they’ll enjoy—a book recommendation, a new recipe, or a documentary about a topic you know they’re interested in. Or chat with them on a more personal level — this helps you connect better than just blindly forwarding some post or article that you received.
I hope you like these ideas. How are you guys spreading kindness while staying safe? I’d love to know!