Kindness in a Locked-down World

Today’s post is a bit different. It’s not about writing. It’s about kindness. That’s a great way to start off a new year.

Kindness in its most elemental form is defined by small actions, by everyday things. But how can we be kind in a locked-down world, where we don’t often go out and no one can see our faces? Where we have to wear masks and gloves, and stay 6 feet away from other people? Is there really a way to show kindness in our world today?

Of course. Kindness, you see, is like a packet of wildflower seeds. When you indulge in kindness, you pour those seeds into your hand and blow. The seeds take flight and disperse everywhere, taking root along the way. Even in today’s limited world you can let seeds of kindness loose.

Be warned, though: kindness is addicting. You’ll feel so good when you commit acts of kindness, you won’t be able to stop. And that’s a good thing, because nothing can make us happier, or healthier, than living a kind life.

Here’s a baker’s dozen of ideas on how to let your seeds of kindness germinate in today’s locked-down world:

  1. Say “Hello, have a wonderful day,” from behind your mask to everyone you pass by. You don’t have to stop and chat, just be friendly as you pass by. Your kind words may be the only nice thing that person hears all day. 
  1. When you see something you like—a hair style; clothing; a piece of jewelry; the mask they’re wearing; even someone’s car—don’t remain silent. Tell the person how nice that item is. Even standing 6′ away and wearing a mask, they can hear you. One kind, sincere compliment can turn around a person’s day. I once saw a middle-aged woman leaving a store with a depressed slant to her shoulders and a scowl on her face. People detoured around her negativity. I stopped and said to her, “Gosh, your dress is lovely. It’s the perfect color for you.” She blinked, then broke out into a delighted smile. “Thank you,” was all she said in reply, but her shoulders straightened and she was still smiling as she strode off toward her car. And I felt great, myself.
  1. Hard as it is during these times of uncertainty, don’t hoard your leftovers. Instead, fix a plate and take dinner to an elderly neighbor, or to someone who works long hours—even at home—and doesn’t have much time to cook. Or just to someone who doesn’t like to cook.
  1. Become a “Secret Supporter”—Bring in your neighbor’s garbage cans after pickup; rake the leaves off their front lawn; sweep off their front porch, etc. And do it all without letting them know who did it.
  1. Tell friends and family both that you love and appreciate them. Use phone, email, text, or online video chats through Zoom, etc. (Zoom is easy to use and is free if you don’t go over an hour.) No one ever gets tired of hearing they are loved and valued. Be specific: “I appreciate so much the way we talk each week on Zoom. Thank you.” Remember, most people never know how what they do affects those around them. It’s nice to let them know they’re doing a kindness that’s appreciated.
  1. Donate part, or all, of your stimulus check to a local charity or food bank. Without the ability to have fundraisers people can attend, they are really hurting right now. If you aren’t in dire need of that money, if all or part of it is and extra for you, donate!
  1. Search the internet for short jokes you can share with those you pass by when you go out to shop for necessities. Don’t forget the checkout clerks. Here’s one that always gets me a smile: Why did the dinosaur cross the road? Because the chicken hadn’t evolved yet. Let your “Smiley of the Week” (look for a new one for each week) give someone else a laugh to ease the pressure of living in a covid-19 world. Don’t forget to share these Smileys on your social media outlets, too.
  1. Really listen when others talk to you, even if it’s from 6 feet away, over the phone, or on video chat. Sometimes, all a person needs is a sounding board, someone to empathize with them. Or to laugh with them. Or just to understand. And remember: give advice only if they ask for it.
  1. Keep a dollar bill in the car cup holder and give it to the stranger who is on the street corner holding a sign, needing help. The homeless are really suffering right now. Even just a dollar will let that person know someone cares, and a single dollar won’t break your bank, even if you do it once a week.
  1. Every once in a while, pay for the coffee for the person in the car waiting in line behind you. It will lift their spirits and show them what true kindness is made of. One day at Starbucks I noticed the car behind me was a cop car. I paid for his coffee, telling the barista to tell him it was a thank you for all he was doing to keep us safe. It felt so good to do that, and it cost less than $3.00!
  1. When buying canned or boxed goods that are on sale—say corn, peas, or beans, rice or pasta—buy two of each can or box. Donate the extras to your local soup kitchen, to help them feed the homeless. This will only cost you a few dollars, but will help make life easier for someone who has little or nothing. You can also leave a can or box or two at a neighbor’s door, an anonymous donation to their cupboard.
  1. Watch for opportunities to leave little “squizzer” (small, inexpensive) gifts for people who might have need of either the item or the caring thought behind it. Check the dollar store for such things as: pocket calendars, hand lotion/sanitizers, masks, pretty candles, socks, hair ribbons, pocket flashlights, pens, dish soap, paper plates, etc. Once a month spend $5.00 on 5 items that you can anonymously leave on a coworker’s desk (if your office is still open), at someone’s doorstep, in someone’s car, tucked into a friend’s purse… all anonymously.
  1. Get in the habit of sending “just because” cards to family, friends, and acquaintances. Check the dollar store for any occasion cards, cards of encouragement, cards of thanks, cards that say “you’re special” in some way. Try to send at least two cards a month. Or sign up for the Jacquie Lawson online cards site (it’s only $20 for 1 year or $30 for 2 years) and you can send e-cards on any subject to as many friends and acquaintances as you have. No limits.

Now it’s up to you. Even in an era where we need to maintain “social distancing” (which is an oxymoron!), we can find ways to spread joy, peace, and love. Where and how will you blow your seeds of kindness in a Locked-down World?

And please, share the link to this post… let everyone know how easy it is to be kind in today’s often-unkind world.

About Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle is a professional freelance editor, writing instructor and multi-award winning author of 21 books—6 nonfiction on writing (Write It Right), 6 suspense novels and 7 collections of award-winning short stories. She also has stories in both volumes of "Deadlines", the new anthology from the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Tales from a Rocky Coast, and the SLO NightWriter anthology. Under the pen name Susan Grace O'Neill, she is the author of the Journey With Jesus series: Lord, Let Me Grow (Parables) vol. 1, and Lord, Let Me Walk (Lent). She is currently working on volume #2 of her Skylark P.I. series (a PI with paranormal abilities), as well as 2 YA fantasy series. And she teaches fiction writing in both the morning and afternoon every Wednesday. Email her if you're interested in joining her class. And follow her on Twitter and FaceBook.