How to be Kind When Someone Is Mean

You Can Choose Kindness and See the Good in Others

Seeing good in others


This article is about how to see the good in others – even when they are mean. You’ll learn 10 simple strategies you can use in your daily life.

Why is it Important to Be Kind to Others?

Does it really matter how you treat someone? Of course it matters. You prefer kind and friendly interactions during your day. And no one likes to come across a mean or rude person. Being kind to others is important.

Let’s take a minute to think about a few reasons why it’s important to be kind to others.

You Set An Example For Your Kids

You are the first example for your kids. When your kids see you are kind to others, they will want to follow your example. Your kids will learn how to treat others by watching you.

This goes for everyone in your life – family member, teachers and staff at school, customer service associates at the store, coworkers and neighbors. Be aware of how you treat others during the day. And how you talk about others when you’re at home.

Kids are little sponges and pick up on a lot. How you act and what you say can influence those young minds.

No One “wins” When You Are Mean

No one “wins” when you are mean. Your mood gets a little more depressed, negativity starts brewing and there’s just an overall gloomy feeling. And it’s not just you that gets gloomy, those around you are sucked into the negativity.

When you choose to be mean, you may think you’ve won an argument, but in reality, you’ve lost. There are no winners when you choose to be mean.

Everyone “wins” When You Are Kind

The opposite is true when you choose to be kind. When you are kind, everyone “wins.” Having a kind attitude sends out positive vibes and can help build up those around you. Being kind means you’re looking at the positive side of things and are using uplifting language. Everyone around you is left a little better when you are kind.

Being Kind is Important, but It’s Not Always Easy

It’s pretty easy to be kind to those who are nice to you. The challenge comes when someone is rude or mean. It’s just instinct to want to be rude or mean right back.

It is possible to look for the good in others and be kind – even when it’s hard. When you learn how to deal with these difficult situations, you’ll be in a much better position to choose to react with kindness.

Can I Learn to be Nice?

Some people are just born nice. No matter what happens, they always respond with kindness. But most of us weren’t born this way. Being nice is something we need to learn and practice before it becomes a regular habit.

Initial Gut Reaction

Someone is mean. Your first reaction may be to be mean back. You probably want to make them feel bad and show them that you don’t deserve to be treated that way.

You’ve heard two wrongs don’t make a right – right? This statement is very true when it comes to being kind. When someone has been mean to you, it does you NO GOOD to be mean to them.

When you are mean it’s like you poison yourself just a little bit. You let those angry feeling fester. You replay what happened over and over again in your mind. Each time getting more upset and feeling more hurt. You can choose a different way, set a new gut reaction.

Learn a New Gut Reaction

When someone has been unkind to you, it is best if you are kind in return.

If being kind back isn’t something that comes naturally to you, don’t worry. You can practice being nice and it can become a positive habit. Learning to be kind is just like exercising your muscles. The more you practice and exercise kindness, the easier it will be to show kindness to others. Yes, even when they are mean to you first.

This is going to take effort and practice. But if you’re willing to put in a little effort, you can choose to be kind when someone is mean.

learn how to be kind

Learn to be Kind

There are two things you’ll need to do regularly. You’ll need to stay in a positive mind frame and be willing to look for the good in others.

Staying Positive

A big part of being kind is learning how to keep a positive attitude. People who are kind also have a positive outlook on life. They see the positive qualities of others and this makes it easier for them to be kind.

Keeping a positive attitude can be difficult. Life isn’t always fair or nice. But keeping a positive attitude is vitally important if you want to be kind to others. Staying positive and being kind are skills moms need as they raise Active Happy Kids. Remember, you are the first example your kids will watch. If you want your kids to be kind to others, you will need to set that example.

Keeping a positive attitude is a skill you can grow and strengthen.

Look for the Good in Others

Another great way to learn kindness is by actively looking for the good in others. Sometimes we falsely believe that acknowledging good in others means they are better than us. We believe since they have good qualities, we somehow aren’t good enough or don’t measure up ourselves.

Nothing couldn’t be farther from the truth. Recently I heard a podcast where the speaker said not to look up to others.

“I think we all should look over to a person, never up to a person. Up means that I have something that’s superior or better than you, that’s not true. What I have is something that’s different than you, and what you have is something different from me. We can learn from each other. Therefore, we need to look over to each other.” Mike Michalowicz

Do It Scared Episode 20

When we recognize the good in others, it does not diminish the good in ourselves. I truly believe that when we recognize the good in others, it lifts us and it lifts them.

10 Ways to Learn and Practice Kindness

To be kind you need to work on having a positive attitude and look for the good in others.

We all have our moments of weakness. Maybe someone is unkind. Or the person just gets on our nerves and annoys us. These 10 strategies will help you resist the urges to have unkind thoughts. If you feel your thoughts heading toward the negative, establish positive habits to bring you back to the positive.

Here are 10 simple strategies you can use to help you respond with kindness:

1. Forgive

This one sounds odd, but if someone is mean to you, you can forgive them. Everyone struggles in life. If someone is mean to you, they could be upset about something else entirely. They are taking out those feelings on you.

Of course you do not deserve that treatment, but rather than harboring negative thoughts, you can simply forgive the person who has been mean.

Even if they meant to be mean on purpose, you do not have to let that negativity effect you. You can choose to remain positive, forgive the person and move on with your day.

2. Go for a Walk

Going for a walk will help you clear your head. Exercise releases endorphins which can help your body feel better. Exercise can also reduce stress and help you see things differently.

3. Sing or Listen to an Uplifting Song

Music is also a great way to reduce stress, anxiety and help improve your mood. If you feel yourself heading toward negative thoughts, listing to your favorite song can help put you back in a positive direction.

4. Recite a Positive Mantra

Reciting a positive mantra or positive affirmations can help improve your mood. These can be repeated on a daily basis to help boost your mood and put you in a good mind frame for the challenge you will face during the day.

The positive mantras can also be recited when you’re in a difficult situation. It’s not always necessary to repeat these out loud. You can repeat the words in your head as you take deep breaths.

5. Call a Trusted Friend

Sometimes you just need to speak with someone who’s on your site. Someone who has your back and can help you talk through your feelings. Calling a trusted friend or accountability partner is a great way to stay positive.

Let your friend know that you’re working on being more kind. You’re practicing kindness by looking for the good in others. Your friend can help you see situations in a different light. Make sure you stay open to the opinion of your friend. You may feel defensive if they tell you something that is difficult to hear. Trust your friend and know that sometimes it hurts a little as we stretch and grow our ability to be more kind.

6. Use Positive Language

When you speak in a negative way, you’re going to feel negative. Instead, choose to use positive language in your daily life. Watch for times when you are negative, but follow it up by saying – just kidding. If you don’t mean to be unkind, then choose to say only kind words.

7. Practice Gratitude

Start thinking about all of the positive things you are thankful for in your life. Write these things down in your journal or share them with others. When you remember all that you have to be thankful for, it is easier to stay positive.

Always see the good in others

8. Get to know the Person

There are times in life when there is an ongoing problem with the same person. You just don’t get along or you feel like they don’t like you. Consider asking them to lunch or get to know them with a different activity. When you get to know this person on a deeper level and you might be very surprised with the results.

9. List 5 Positive Attributes

If you’re just not ready to reach out and ask the person to lunch, think of their positive attributes or qualities. Think of as many as you can, but make sure you have at least 5. When you can actually point out their positive qualities you can see them in a more positive light.

10. Replace a Negative Thought with a Positive Thought

When you have a negative thought, you want to first acknowledge the thought. Realize that is it negative and then tell it to leave. It sounds a little weird, but let that thought know it is not welcome. You’re a positive person and you do not have time for a negative thought. Negative thoughts only bring you down and you want to be happy.

Quickly replace that negative thought with a positive thought. This can be a positive mantra, your favorite song lyrics, or any positive thought you want.

What are the Benefits of Having a Positive Attitude?

There are countless benefits to having a positive attitude. The Mayo Clinic provides 7 Health Benefits of Positive Thinking.

Health Benefits

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

In addition to the numerous health benefits, keeping a positive attitude by looking for the good in others has so many other benefits. Here are 6 benefits.

Relationship Benefits

  • People will see you as a kind and genuine person
  • You will likely have more friends
  • Your relationships will be strong and based on mutual trust
  • You will feel better about yourself
  • You are setting a positive example for your kids
  • You will be happier

When you think about it, the benefits of keeping a positive attitude by looking for the good in other are obvious. And the best benefit – You will be happier. That benefit alone is enough for you to want to rise to the challenge to look for the good in others.

What is the First Step I Can Take Today?

Let’s start a challenge. Together, we will resolve to pick one of the 10 ways to develop positive thoughts. You are going to work on this until it becomes a habit. This habit will help as you look for the good in others.

A few things to remember:

  • If you have a set back, that’s ok. Try again and again.
  • Before you realize it, you will feel more positive and will be able to see the good in others.
  • And remember to look for the good in yourself too.

You’ll realize over time, it becomes easier and easier to see the good in others. The same is true if you’re looking for the negative, so be intentional and consciously choose to look for the good.

I shared an experience in an earlier post about always noticing white cars on the road. The basic idea is – if you’re always thinking about white cars you’ll naturally see more white cars on the road. The same is true with our thoughts. If you’re focused on the positive, you’ll naturally see the positive more often.

Pick one of the strategies and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from readers and friends!

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