When it comes to New Year’s, many of us like to make resolutions and goals for the upcoming year. The top two resolutions are to lose weight and to get personal finances on track. Other people resolve to drink less, travel more, quit smoking or read more. Those are all great resolutions! But there are two things this world needs more of: kindness and connection. So often we rush through the day without thinking about the people around us. We eat meals with loved ones, but don’t connect because our minds are consumed with other things: what happened during the day, our to-do list, an ache or pain, an issue with a co-worker, or a deadline at work.
While I’m not a psychologist or a therapist, I’ve learned that it’s important to be present and kind and I make an effort to do both. I try to model this behavior for my children, my friends, my spouse —even for complete strangers.
This coming year, try giving the gift of attention. The gift of connection. The gift of listening. The gift of kindness. The gift of an open heart.
If you’d like to do your part to make 2017 the year of kindness, here are seven simple ideas you can try. And guess what? They don’t cost a thing. And if you “fail,” just get up and start over again. Not only will you enrich the lives of those around you, your own life will be transformed with a kinder, gentler, more loving view of the world, and deeper connections with family and friends.
1. Focus on one task at a time. Be present and engaged with the people around you.
2. A kind word goes a long way. Remember to compliment your children, your spouse, your co-workers, and your friends. You know how good YOU feel when you get a compliment. Do you speak kindly often enough?
3. Be sure to greet others and make eye contact—even (or especially) the people you see every day. When your kids or your spouse comes home, do you go over and greet him or her with a smile, a hug or a kiss, and make eye contact? Sometimes we take family members for granted, and hardly acknowledge their presence. See how nice it feels for all of you when you take the time to greet one another!
4. An extra hug at night or before the school bus comes adds warmth to a loved one’s day. Extra means a lot.
5. Do a random act of kindness every day. Whether it’s monetary or just thoughtful, it starts a chain reaction and can turn someone’s day around. You may never know the final outcome of your kindness, but you’ll feel good anyway.
6. Put down the phone and turn off the TV. When we’re with family, we are often distracted by the noise around us. We can connect better when we take 15 minutes, or more, a day to really talk and focus on each other.
7. Smile more often. It’s incredible how often we go through our days without smiling or laughing because we are too busy, rushed, or distracted. Taking the time to smile not only sends great signals to your brain, it makes everyone around you feel better! And you just may get in the habit of smiling and love the way it feels. Try it more often. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.