Kindness Week is a new initiative at Bond University, presenting students, staff and alumni with an opportunity to reflect on the nature of kindness. Whether you’re here on the Gold Coast or studying remotely, there are so many ways you can bring kindness into your everyday life that don’t require large sacrifices of your time or money.
Here are seven ways to express your kindness, helping others and giving back to your community.
1. Ask ‘are you okay?’
One of the simplest ways you can be more kind is to ask someone if they’re okay. Even if someone appears to be coping with stress effectively, asking if they’re okay shows that you support them and are interested in their life. You never know –this might be their only chance to talk openly about their emotions and reach out for support.
After asking if someone is okay, be sure to listen to their response, acknowledge their emotions and follow up later if it seems like they might need it. You might want to suggest that they talk to one of Bond’s on-campus counsellors or a trusted friend or family member.
2. Listen actively
In conversation, there’s nothing better than feeling like others are listening to and acknowledging what you’re saying. To help others feel valued and important, try to practice active listening.
An active listener shows interest and engagement in the person they are speaking to. They avoid distractions such as their phone or watch and offer facial expressions and open body language. Active listening requires the listener to refrain from judgement and demonstrate empathy towards the speaker. Listening actively to those around you is a simple way to show some kindness towards another person. Oh, and be sure to take mental notes in certain conversations – by listening intently, you might pick up a few tips and tricks for your own everyday life!
3. Ask for things kindly, and express thanks often
Using manners is such an easy way to express kindness towards those around you. When asking for or receiving something, a simple ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ can go a long way. Make sure you thank the barista for your morning coffee, your lecturer for the class they presented, your colleagues for their help and your friends for their time. You never know what’s going on in someone’s personal life – this small act of gratitude might be the highlight of their day.
Also, remember that people aren’t entitled to each other’s time. If someone is unable to assist you when you need it, acknowledge their boundaries politely and express your thanks regardless. Recognising people’s differing commitments and setting your own time boundaries improves communication and shows that you respect the needs of those around you.
Finding someone who shares your emotions is one of the most validating feelings. This isn’t limited to negative emotions – being happy for your friend’s new job or good results is just as important as helping them through a tough time. Showing empathy towards those around you is one of the most genuine ways to demonstrate kindness.
Acting with empathy means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and attempting to understand the emotions they are experiencing. Not only does empathy allow stronger human connection, but it can also increase problem-solving skills, demonstrate active listening and improve emotional intelligence. Simple ways to practice empathy include asking proactive questions, giving others space to speak and researching different cultures and political viewpoints. It is especially important to show empathy towards racial, social and ethnic minorities.
Good people rarely mean to hurt others. That’s why learning that your actions may have upset or offended someone is often confronting. In cases where you’ve hurt another person or group of people, one of the best actions you can take is to genuinely apologise. Saying sorry and recognising the way in which you have hurt others can relieve the shame and remorse we often tie to wrong actions. Accepting your shortcomings and acknowledging the negative impact you’ve had on someone else demonstrates humility, and proves that you care about the relationship and the person affected enough to make things right.
6. Perform a random act of kindness
One simple good deed can significantly change a person’s day, week, or even life. Random acts of kindness are incredibly easy ways to bring kindness into your everyday life. Around campus, you might want to consider buying someone’s coffee, smiling at a stranger, thanking staff members for their service to the University or offering a new student assistance with finding a classroom.
Outside of university, you might like to donate old items to charity, call a loved one just to chat, send a card in the mail to someone you miss, leave a positive review of your favourite local business or buy your friends, family or partner surprise flowers.
7. Look into the Building a Better Bondy module on iLearn
All Bondies now have access to an iLearn page called ‘Building a Better Bondy’. This initiative connects Bondies to a wide range of wellbeing resources and support, focusing particularly on accessibility and inclusion, connecting meaningfully, international student support, building safe and respectful communities and effective studying. Interacting with these resources can help Bondies build social and cultural awareness on different issues such as consent, inclusion, and diversity and safety, and ultimately, this knowledge can help us treat others with kindness and respect.
There are so many ways to bring kindness into your own life as well as the lives of those in your community, both here at Bond and beyond. You never know – one small comment or action could change someone’s life.
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Kindness Week at Bond
Bond’s inaugural Kindness Week is running from 25 – 29 October, 2021, celebrating how kindness can improve our lives as well as recognising those within our community who have made a difference through simple acts of kindness.