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Feel Better Through Ten Acts Of Loving-Kindness

edited December 2009 in Arts & Writings

Exhibiting loving-kindness and compassion is one of the most underrated methods of improving our mental well-being. But how can doing something that benefits another possibly allow me to feel better?

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, studies have shown that helping others actually does increase our own happiness. It gets us to step out of our own ego-driven tendencies, to empathize with others, and to share both their pain and joy. Their happiness becomes our happiness.

So what are some things we can do to exercise this skill?

1. Call Someone And Tell Them You Love ‘Em

Often we don’t tell others how much we love them even though we know how much they would love to hear it. Those that don’t feel loved can become depressed and suffer greatly. Because of this, it is important that we tell others we love them and we should remind them of it often. Go ahead and call your wife, husband, mom or dad and tell them that you appreciate all that they have done and that you truly love them for who they are. Even if it is someone who you haven’t used the word “love” to in a long while – work up the courage to still do it, it’ll benefit both of you.

2. Compliment A Stranger

Being kind is not something exclusive to people we know and already love. We should also exercise this amongst strangers. Sometimes there is nothing more pleasing than making a positive change to a stranger’s day. You can do this in a variety of ways: compliment an article of clothing or jewelry of a store clerk or just stop someone you pass in the street and compliment their smile. Make sure your words are genuine. Let the person know that you just had to tell them “Blah blah blah” and then go on your merry way.

3. Donate To A Charity

Donating to a charity is one of the most noble things one can do. It doesn’t matter if it is only a couple dollars or even a few thousand – it is the principle of the act. Sometimes the hardest thing to give up is a material good like money, but by detaching ourselves from this possessive mindset we are not only helping someone in greater need but allowing ourselves a greater freedom.

4. Schedule An Exciting Event

This one takes a little more time and effort than the past three, but this also means it can give us a greater satisfaction. Try to put together an event that a group of your friends or family can enjoy. Maybe you could throw an upcoming surprise birthday party for someone or a weekend costume party for a good time. The key here is to schedule something that is fun and exciting. Many of us need more of this in our lives due to the burdens of work and family life. By providing an outlet for people to let loose and relax you are doing a tremendous service.

5. Dedicate A Song, Poem, or Painting To Someone Significant

What better way to create than to do it for the sake of sharing with someone significant? Maybe it is time to dust off that old acoustic guitar or overcome those years of writer’s block. Think of someone you want to dedicate to. Pick a theme or message that you want to express and then work with it until you find something that you are proud of. Polish it up, and when you are ready show it off to the intended person. It will warm their heart.

6. Spend Time Playing With Children

Children are a fantastic way to practice loving-kindness (and sometimes patience). If you have kids of your own then you can schedule an afternoon at the zoo or park. If you don’t have kids then see if you can volunteer at a children’s hospital or elementary school. Most volunteer places are more than happy to have an extra pair of hands on deck to help entertain the children and keep them behaved. I find it incredibly enlightening to spend time with children – they have great imaginations and they are always living in the moment to the fullest. Of course kids can sometimes become a huge handful, so there is also a sense of skill in keeping them both safe and happy. I used to volunteer at an elementary school throughout my High School years up until my second semester in college and I learned many valuable life lessons doing so.

7. Fulfill A Wish

This suggestion is probably one of the toughest to accomplish depending on the person’s wish you are trying to fulfill. Maybe you have a friend who has always wanted to dive into a swimming pool of jello or who has always wanted to travel to Europe. These wishes might be too difficult to fulfill, but if you have the means to do it then don’t let anything stop you. Other wishes are easier. Maybe you know someone who had always wanted a toy train as a child or a certain comic book. Even though they might be older now, the thought of fulfilling this childhood wish is something that can bring great joy to the person. It also shows that you are thoughtful, you listen to others, and remember what they say.

8. Get A Loved One A Gift For No Reason

We often only get others gifts during birthdays or holidays. But what is stopping us from giving even when there is not a special occasion. Sometimes it is gifts like this that are the most surprising and meaningful. The classic case is coming home with a rose or box of chocolates for your wife. It doesn’t really matter who or what it is – it is the thought and the freedom to give someone something whenever you want that creates real spontaneity and happiness.

9. Create A Mixtape For A New Friend

This is one of my favorite things to do as I love music and I love sharing new artists with others. You may remember a time back in High School when you and your crush would exchange mixtapes and then go home and listen intently to all the songs they had chosen specifically for you. Why let this practice die as you get older? It is never too late to introduce others to new music. It creates an important bond and as long as they hold on to your mixtape the connection will always be there.

10. Find Someone Who Looks Down And Make Them Smile

This too can be a great challenge. It sucks to see someone going throughout their day looking down and depressed. When I see someone like this I always wonder if there is anything I could do in that moment to make their day a tad bit better. You could resort to option 2 and give them a compliment. You may also have a good joke on hand that could brighten up their day. Maybe it is a homeless man on the street in which case you can give a donation. Use your good judgment and be creative if you have to.

Final Words

There are enough easy and simple things to do on this list to begin your practice of loving-kindness. As you get better you can progress to some of the more difficult suggestions. All of these are ways to improve conditions of your surrounding world and at the same time improve your inner happiness and content. A daily practice of loving-kindness is a great ingredient for any recipe in healthy living. Try it out for yourself!


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