In society, hate is everywhere. Arguments and demeaning comments on social media. Worldwide discrimination, prejudice, and racism. We live in a world full of people who voluntarily throw aggressive words at someone who may differ from them or their views. Being kind and considerate in a world that shows you hate doesn't require you to be a superhero, but it does require effort. It requires you to step beside yourself and think about how your actions and words are affecting others. In just a few changes of personal mindset, you can be the change or spark of light in someone's life.
Change 1: Before Speaking, Take a Deep Breath.
In any situation when you are angry or tense, it is important to pause for a moment and take a deep breath. This will not only give you a few seconds to decompress and allow your anger to subside, but it will allow you to formulate less aggressive comments that may escalate the situation instead of helping it. Whether it takes you three seconds or ten, make sure you take enough time to allow yourself to have calm and rational thoughts before responding.
Change 2: Think About How Your Words May Come Across as Offensive or Aggressive.
The words that are not offensive to me may be offensive to someone else. When having a conversation about any topic, whether it be aggressive or civil, it is important to think about how your words will affect the person you are talking to. Will this comment sound demeaning, offensive, or rude to them in any way? If the answer is yes, then keep it to yourself. The same goes in a group setting. If you don't really know everyone in the group's humor or life experiences, watch for a moment, see what level of conversation is acceptable, and follow the groups lead. If you observe and still are hesitant, stick to common topics and language until you feel comfortable.
Change 3: Think About Other's Life Experiences
We all grow up under various circumstances. Life has a way of using those circumstances to form our opinions, emotions, and thoughts on different topics. When talking to someone, think about the experiences they may have had and attempt to understand how that helped them form their opinions. If you don't understand how they formed a certain thought, ask kindly. Say, "I have a different opinion on the topic, but I am curious as to why you feel that way?" If they do not want to discuss it then move on, but do not be scared to try and understand someone else's point of view.
Change 4: Agree to Disagree
As humans, we will not always agree with one another. We have different cultures, religions, and experiences that form our opinions of the world and of each other. This melting pot is part of what makes the world a beautiful place to live. However, by not appreciating and accepting those differences, beauty can quickly turn ugly. We must attempt to understand one another, and not use aggression to convince someone we are right. Instead, we must understand that we both feel right in our opinions and that trying to change each other's mind is ineffective. We may inform someone on how their actions are affecting people and how they are negative, but if they choose to ignore you, do not get confrontational. Accept that they may never agree with you, and move on.
Change 5: Your Tone
Tone is an important part of communication. On a daily basis, try to keep your tone direct, soft, and articulate. If you ever notice your tone getting angry or aggressive, take a deep breath and allow yourself a moment to relax. In every conversation, it is also important to listen to what your counterpart is saying and respond in the correct tone. If they are sad, show compassion. If they are happy, show excitement. Make sure that you are embracing the conversation you are having and you are existing in the moment.
Change 6: Smile
Smiling goes farther than most people realize. If you are walking and you make eye contact with someone else, smile, and say hello. The same goes for if you are in a classroom, a mall, or even the Doctors office. Smile. They say smiling is contagious, so start the infection.
Change 7: Be There for Others
If you see someone upset or frustrated, take a moment out of your time and ask them if they are okay. If they text or message you, read what they have to say. If you can help them out or give them a few words of advice, then do so. What is five minutes of your time for an action that could change someones' life? Be cautious about this in person, as if you are alone and you don't feel safe approaching someone you do not know very well by yourself, then don't. Say a few kind prayers for them in your head and move along. Be kind, but never put yourself at risk.
Change 8: Accept that not Everyone Wants Your Help but Offer it Anyways
If you notice someone you know is struggling to lift boxes, do a homework assignment, or they just overall seem like they are in a down mood, offer to help them out or listen. If they say no, then that is okay, but sometimes just offering a helping hand is enough to make a difference.
Change 9: Acknowledge Your Negative Actions and Thoughts
We all have bad days. Sometimes those bad days come across in our treatment of others and our reactions to certain situations. It is important on days where you feel like keeping to yourself to not be overly cruel or judgmental of individuals, and instead acknowledge that the person who is having difficulty is you. Try not to speak ill of anyone or treat others in a way that you would not want to be treated. If you notice that you say or do something that may have offended someone, apologize, and correct your behavior for next time. The key to kindness is acknowledging when you are being unkind and adjusting your mindset. Do not hesitate to say that you were wrong.
Change 10: Understand That How They Feel is in No Way a Reflection of Who You Are
This thought process can make the biggest difference in your everyday actions. If in every interaction you have you are genuinely kind, compassionate, and generous, and you do not receive a positive response from those you are interacting with, that is okay, do not respond negatively. Instead, increase the positivity. Ask about them, their interests, their life. If they are still rude, then understand that that is not a reflection on who you are as a person. They are not rude because of your hair, or the way you smiled, or the way you responded, sometimes, people just don't respond. Never stop being the kindest version of you.You don't need spandex and a cape to make people feel important. All you need is the right mindset, a smile, and compassion. In the words of Cinderella, "Kindness is Free, Love is Free", and yet sometimes, kindness can be the greatest gift of all.