The most effective technique

Kindness is a trait we start to learn early. Drew visits the animals on my friend Judy's farm, near Dayton, Ohio, 1987.

Kindness is a trait we start to learn early.
Drew visits the animals on my friend Judy’s farm, near Dayton, Ohio, 1987.

“People often ask me what is the most effective technique for transforming their life. It is a little embarrassing that after years and years of research and experimentation, I have to say that the best answer is–just be a little kinder.” Aldous Huxley

I thought quite awhile about Huxley’s conclusion, and I think it has a lot of merit.  I can think of hardly any world problem — war, disease, hunger, crime — that would not lessen significantly if kindness grew and became more widespread.  And on a smaller scale, much day-to-day misery is alleviated in countless situations by people who show kindness in big or little ways.

But on a more personal level, as I consider my own life, I know that thinking, feeling and being kinder is a solution to many of the little irritations that sour my moods and put a grouchy expression on my face.  When I’m feeling patient with other people, my day just seems to go better.  When I’m angry or frustrated with others, even for good reasons, it’s my own day, mood and life that suffer most.  And I’m a hotheaded person who needs this lesson more than almost anyone I know.

Sometimes, the simplest things can be the hardest.  Kindness is a trait that comes naturally to many of us at least some of the time, but there is never enough of it to go around.  Yet it’s fairly easy to find ways to be kind if we are willing to make the effort, and as with so many actions, one kindness often leads to another.

Next time you’re having a really bad day, try this: take a few deep breaths, remind yourself that you will most likely survive whatever minor disasters you’re coping with, and resolve to use kindness as a strategy to lighten your mood and make an immediate improvement to your attitude.  Then practice — even if it feels stiff and unnatural at first — smiling at people, opening doors for strangers, complimenting cute babies or dogs you see, letting someone who is obviously in a hurry go ahead of you in the checkout line at Walmart.  Even if you can’t muster any affection for strangers, FAKE it.  I bet it will brighten your day, even if only by allowing you a private inner laugh at your own awkward efforts.

Have you ever made a conscious effort to be more kind?  If so, how did it make you feel?  Do you agree with Huxley that kindness is an effective means of transformation?

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    I was fortunate enough to learn this lesson when I was 15 or 16, working at McDonald’s in downtown Minneapolis. A nasty customer had just soured my mood, and I don’t recall if someone whispered to me “shake it off” or whether it was my own thought, or maybe God’s voice, but I was SO NICE to the next two customers that my sourness dissolved and a subsequent customer actually said something to the effect of “if McDonald’s had 15 people like you, they’d have more business than they could handle!”
    After that, I was positively floating, and all because I had chosen the path of kindness. It was a great lesson!

    • Isn’t that a lovely memory? Thanks for sharing it. There is nothing like dissolving the ice of someone’s cruelty with the warmth of other people’s kindness. I was just telling Nishchal today about the time I got my wallet stolen from me in a shove/snatch operation in Barcelona. It was a horrible experience, but two young Asian women on the train (who spoke very little English) witnessed what happened, and insisted on giving me their train tickets (which had stored value on them) despite my telling them we would be fine. Their sympathy and sincere concern was such a balm to my spirit! May we all live in the awareness of how big a difference we can make in other people’s lives, one moment at a time!

  2. MaryAnn

    Beautiful photo of Drew & beautiful post!
    Imagine how kindness would create such a better way to deal with our current turmoil!
    As the saying goes: “it starts with me”.

    • Yes, so true! Hard to keep that in mind sometime, but if we do, everyone wins. I really believe that. ❤

  3. Kim Sa

    Being genuinely kind is really difficult but faking it sometimes have genuine effect to other people. It might brighten their day, improve their mood so they can be truly kind to others as well.
    I would be glad to hear your thoughts on my post too!

    • Thanks Kim, I agree that faking it can be helpful to everyone involved. What we think of as “faking it” is often just a form of self-discipline where we restrain our impulse to say or do something hateful or resentful. The bad kind of fake is where we act nice to a person’s face but then stab them in the back, figuratively speaking, by criticizing or making fun of them when they are not around. The good kind of fake is when we act more loving than we feel. My father always taught us that love is an act of will, not a feeling; it is deeds, not words. Often it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as kindness can be contagious! Thanks so much for being here and sharing your thoughts. I just went by your blog and enjoyed it, thanks for giving us the link!

      • Kim Sa

        Thank you so much for taking your time visiting my blog! And yes I totally agree that there’s no point of being nice in front of other people but eventually stabbing them in the back is worst than just ignoring these people at all or talking to them only when you have to.

        • Sadly, adults in the spotlight (television personalities, politicians, sports figures, etc.) were once expected to set a good example for the children and even for the adults who are influenced by them. That time seems gone forever and I wish there was some way to persuade people to go back to being kind and considerate about what they say. Still, if each one of us refuses to give in to the “mean scene” the world will be that much kinder.

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

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