The Gift of Kindness and Giving Back

One of my all-time favorite quotes is, “Everyone you know is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” I think it’s an important reminder for all of us to hear. The holiday season can be a joyful time where we’re reminded of all that we’re grateful for. However, it can also be a time that brings up feelings of loneliness as well. The unfortunate truth is that not everyone has a healthy relationship with their family — or a relationship at all. Also, not everyone has a welcoming group of friends or money to give gifts or participate in the holiday festivities. 

Being mindful of this and encouraging ourselves to actively show those around us kindness is a free gift that you can give everyone (all year long). Acts of kindness can be big or small, but they all have value nonetheless. 

As a college student paying bills, I understand that we might not have the means to buy gifts. This is completely okay . Kindness doesn’t have to equate to buying someone something or donating money to an organization. Holding the door open for someone, complimenting a stranger or even letting a car over in traffic are all small acts of kindness that can uplift someone’s spirit. Checking in on those who may be going through a difficult time or who may not have many loved ones to spend the holidays with, not only shows that you care, but that you’re there for them. Extending an invitation to a dinner party or holiday event is also a friendly gesture. Even taking a few hours on days you are free  to volunteer somewhere meaningful to you is a valuable way to spend your time. 

Perhaps you do have money to spare, or you want to make a priority to save a little to give back. Foregoing Starbucks one week or cutting back the number of drinks you have on a night out can rack up a few bucks in savings to donate. Even just a couple of dollars at most is something and surely is appreciated. Be sure to be knowledgeable about where you put your money as well. Obviously there are numerous causes that could use support, but be sure an organization’s ways of managing their donations aligns with your beliefs and values. Saving leftovers and buying food and goods that people need and donating them to people in your own community makes a significant difference. Another way to spread some joy is by paying it forward. Taking care of the person’s order behind you, shoveling your neighbor’s driveway or leaving an uplifting message on someone’s windshield are all ways not only to give kindness, but encourage it. 

Yes, the holidays are a particular time where we’re reminded to give back and to spread some joy, but I think it goes without saying that these acts of kindness can be done all year long. Recognizing what we have, our privilege and what we’re grateful for is nice in and of itself, but understanding that passing along that sentiment of joy and support to others is invaluable and timeless.