Compassion in Action: 15 Easy Ways to Spread Kindness

Adding a dose of compassion to someone else’s day not only uplifts their spirits, but makes you feel happier, too. And while most of us intend to be compassionate beings every day, our hectic schedules and busy lives can often get in the way of simply being kind to one another.

The amazing thing though, is that even the smallest, most simple gesture can brighten someone’s day and make you feel more connected to others. Check out these 15 quick and easy ways to sprinkle compassion into your day—even the busiest person on the planet will be able to fit these onto the calendar. Take note of what happens when you introduce these small acts of compassion into your life.

Caution: Some "side-effects" of compassion may include lifted spirits, a feeling of connection to those around you, greater mindfulness, and reduced depression.

  1. Offer your full attention to someone
    “Attention is the rarest and purist form of generosity,” said French philosopher and social activist Simone Weil. Tasks, to-do lists, and texts can easily distract us from giving a person our full attention. Today, try being completely present with someone and notice what happens.

  2. Express sincere gratitude to a friend
    Do your friends and loved ones know how much you appreciate them? Bring a smile to someone’s face by sending a message or placing a phone call to say “thank you.”

  3. Take a photo of something beautiful, and text it to someone in your life
    Sometimes a simple text is all it takes to brighten the day of someone you love.

  4. Detach from technology for one hour and look for opportunities to be helpful
    Put your phone on airplane mode, move away from your computer, and take a walk or grab a bite. Open your eyes to your surroundings and notice what happens. Perhaps you can open the door for someone whose hands are full, help carry groceries, or purchase a cup of coffee for someone who looks sad.

  5. Arm yourself with a $5 bill in your pocket
    Travel through your day seeking ways to spread compassion with cash. Buy coffee for someone who seems sad, get a sandwich for someone who seems hungry, purchase a flower for a loved one (or a stranger)!

  6. Offer someone the benefit of the doubt
    Someone may be late for an appointment today. Your boss might be short with you. Your spouse might be ignoring you. Remember that we all make mistakes and might have other reasons for unskilled behavior.

  7. Bring back snail mail and send a letter of encouragement
    Remember stamps? Send a hand-written note to a friend who could use a pick-me-up. It’s a small investment of time that provides big dividends because your friend can revisit the card whenever she is feeling down.

  8. Greet a stranger with a smile and kind word
    Compassion should not just be reserved for people you know. You can brighten the days of others by looking them in the eyes and smiling. This simple act can help you feel more connected to your community.

  9. Practice compassionate listening
    When you’re with a friend or family member, listen without responding, judging, or giving advice. Most of us simply want to be heard, and it is a gift when someone truly listens with an open heart.

  10. Practice self-compassion and tend to your OWN suffering
    We can’t offer compassion to others effectively if we don’t have compassion for ourselves. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and notice if you feel tension anywhere. Imagine breathing warm compassion to your places of tension. Place your hand on your heart and soothe yourself by saying, “May I find peace.”

  11. Have compassion for our planet
    Increase awareness of your surroundings and seek out opportunities to have compassion for the Earth. You can pick up trash you see on the sidewalk, turn off lights you don’t need, and shut off the faucet while you brush your teeth.

  12. Compliment a colleague or loved one
    Research indicates that employees need an ideal praise-to-criticism ratio of 3:1 to be most effective, and healthy relationships have a 5:1 ratio of positive-to-negative interactions. You can improve your work and home atmosphere, and your kind word might make someone’s day!

  13. Set an intention to treat everyone with kindness today
    This might not be easy, but it’s worth trying. Try to bring mindfulness to your words, and refrain from saying anything negative for an entire day. If you slip, you can re-start. Your kind intention is key.

  14. Meet your neighbors!
    Garage doors and busy lives can separate us from our neighbors. Seek out a neighbor who you don’t know and introduce yourself. You never know when you might need a cup of sugar.

  15. Drive with patience (and reduce road rage)
    Try exercising patience with your fellow drivers and imagine that they, too, are trying to get to work on time or home to their loved ones. Your relaxed, post-commute state of mind might impact your entire day.

 

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About the Author
Sara Schairer is the founder and executive director of COMPASSION IT , a start-up nonprofit organization and global social movement whose mission is to inspire daily compassionate actions and attitudes. She created the one-of-a-kind reversible COMPASSION IT wristband prompting compassionate actions on six continents, 48 countries, and all 50 states. Wristband sales fund compassion education programs for youth, teens, and adults. As a public speaker, Sara encourages her audiences to “compassion it” in their daily lives. A Stanford-certified instructor of Compassion Cultivation...Read more