You don't know what others are going through when they are irritating, unpleasant, or short-tempered.
It’s not about you. It almost never is, and that’s a good thing.
Negative interactions with others are unfortunately inevitable, but we do have power over how we respond to them.
Whether some guy cut you off in traffic or the waiter forgot your drink order, you never know what someone is going through until you walk in their shoes.
Before you shout obscenities from your car window or leave a bad tip, consider what they might have gone through today and the positive impact being caring towards them could make.
Here are a few examples of what they could be facing:
Before you're reactive with someone who may very well deserve your ire, consider an alternative that shows more compassion and empathy.
There are many good reasons for choosing benevolence over anger.
- You Never Know What Someone Is Going Through: 13 Reasons to Choose Kindness
- 1. Being Kind Promotes Mindfulness
- 2. A Negative Attitude Inhibits Growth
- 3. Kindness Promotes Dialogue
- 4. It Reinforces Connection
- 5. Kindness Has a Butterfly Effect
- 6. You Become More Self-Aware
- 7. It Takes Less Energy
- 8. You Don’t Know The Difference It Could Make
- 9. Choosing Grace Empowers Others to Do the Same
- 10. Kindness Can Become Friendship
- 11. Meanness Serves No One
- 12. Understanding and Thoughtfulness Are Validating
- 13. It Reveals the Inherent Worth of Everyone
You Never Know What Someone Is Going Through: 13 Reasons to Choose Kindness
1. Being Kind Promotes Mindfulness
Kindness takes practice. When you choose to interact with others with a positive attitude, you become more mindful of your thoughts and behaviors.
Being nice to someone allows you to be in touch with your empathetic self.
Empathy creates space to reflect on your encounters and how you touch the lives of others, fostering a more mindful and conscious response.
2. A Negative Attitude Inhibits Growth
Mean-spirited words and actions often spring from personal insecurity. When we fail to address our emotions or take ownership of our healing, we often take our pain out on others.
Being nice to others sets an example for us to be better to ourselves. Once we grant compassion to ourselves, our growth potential is unlimited.
Practice this mindset by treating yourself and others well. We all have painful pasts, but it's how you carry yourself through the world in the present matters. Are you bringing healing or harm?
3. Kindness Promotes Dialogue
As human beings with a wide array of experiences between us, we often disagree. Differences of opinion are normal. If someone says something you don’t agree with, respond with understanding and graciousness.
If you want to convince them of your side, you should try and understand theirs first. However, if you respond condescendingly or with anger, they may not want to engage.
Debate is a healthy part of relationships, as long as each person comes to the table with respect for the other.
4. It Reinforces Connection
In many ways, our world is intricately connected. Every human on the Earth walks it together, and we are united in a unique shared experience of consciousness.
Try changing an individualist mindset in which the only one that matters is you. When you see yourself as part of a connected community, being nice to others becomes second nature. It is essential to uplift each other.
How you treat others is often a reflection of how you see yourself.
5. Kindness Has a Butterfly Effect
We’ve all heard that kindness is contagious, but it’s more than that. One good act can cause a major ripple, changing the course of not just one person’s day, but many.
Goodness multiplies. Watch what you put out into the universe, as the same is often returned to you. Start a chain of positive actions and do one nice thing for someone today.
6. You Become More Self-Aware
Have you ever had a day where it felt like no one would cut you a break? Maybe it was a couple of weeks or even a couple of months.
When you’ve fallen on hard times, one small act of courtesy can make the world of difference.
When you are going through a hard time, it’s easy to become grumpy. Be empathetic for those having a hard time getting out of a funk. Show them care and consideration — it may make a huge impact.
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7. It Takes Less Energy
Taking the low road is a lot more work than you might think. When we dwell on others’ actions and choose anger, our minds are in turmoil far longer, and it can be exhausting.
Your headspace is precious so don’t waste it on resentment. Goodness is in our nature. It is far easier to be nice than it is to stay angry.
8. You Don’t Know The Difference It Could Make
Our worst days can become great days after a word of encouragement or a helping hand. This thoughtfulness reminds us that we are all connected.
The smallest actions can make the most significant impacts, and turn someone’s entire day around. You never know how much good you do.
Sometimes we think saying the mean or passive-aggressive thing will feel good at the moment, especially when the situation already feels like a lost cause.
You could slam the door on your way out or leave it cracked to hopefully re-enter.
9. Choosing Grace Empowers Others to Do the Same
When you give someone grace, you see them as worthy of love and goodness, even when their behaviors are less than considerate. Showing this grace to others inspires those around you to emulate you.
You don’t have to be a celebrity to be a role model for others. Whether there are children in your life looking up to you, or you have friends and co-workers paying attention to you, your behavior sets an example.
We are natural observers, and we notice the considerate actions of others. If you are unpleasant to one person in your life, the others may wonder if you will treat them that way as well. Be considerate always, and set a precedent for how you want others to treat you.
10. Kindness Can Become Friendship
Loneliness fosters inner pain and outer negativity, and it feels easier sometimes to carry that pain with us in our interactions with others.
When we carry that pain in our daily lives, we often push people away or become too needy. The person may not feel worthy of friendship and love and may even sabotage relationships to protect themselves.
Open yourself to others by treating them well despite their behaviors. A considerate act toward a stranger or acquaintance who seems unhappy or bitter can eventually transform into friendship.
11. Meanness Serves No One
Being mean might feel good at the moment. There's something weirdly satisfying about a good retort to someone's bad behavior. But matching one unkindness with another doesn't help either of you.
Ultimately, that split second of satisfaction that comes from putting someone in their place fades quickly. The ego will always desire to protect itself.
With practice, you can set the ego aside and recognize there's likely pain behind someone's ill-temper.
Nothing beats the satisfaction of knowing you made someone’s day or at least didn't make it worse for them. Be kind; you never know what good it can do.
12. Understanding and Thoughtfulness Are Validating
Think about how it feels when someone says to you, “I know what you're going through.” Just hearing those words gives you the sense of being heard and understood.
It may be harder to say this to someone who is acting out their pain with toxic or difficult behaviors. But even saying someone like, “You seem to feel really upset. I can only imagine what might be going on in your life. I'm here to listen if you want to talk about it.”
Simply acknowledging that there is more behind their negativity or anger can help free the person from the confines of their inner pain.
13. It Reveals the Inherent Worth of Everyone
The last reason to be kind is simply — because. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. You don’t have to know someone’s story to be decent to them or to restrain from anger or ill will.
Someone doesn’t have to be going through a tough time to be worthy of your goodwill. Kindness is free and should be offered because it is your way of being.
Be kind to everyone — you never know.
The likelihood is high that anyone you meet is dealing with some problem, disappointment, tragedy, or inner pain. We all are wounded in some way, and the challenges of life are always present.
You don’t know what others are going through, but you can guess they are going through something. You don’t need to speculate in order to be nice to them.
The choice to be nice can make a more significant impact than you may be aware of. Offer to others what you hope to receive in return by investing in the humanity of everything you encounter.
We are all worthy of the kindness of others.