How to be a kinder human in the new year

Ngee Ann Polytechnic students offering free hugs at a "kind zone" they set up outside Wisma Atria on 20 July 2013. They also handed out handwritten notes asking people to be kinder to others.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

For many of us, 2017 is going to be rough. Getting through it will require peak kindness.

If you're looking to treat others better in 2017 (uh, we hope that is the case), start with a few simple changes. Bonus: This is a New Year's resolution that does not include unrealistic exercise goals.

Here are a few steps you can take to amp up your kindness in 2017.

1. Tip more than you need to

To start, implement a 20 per cent minimum for tips. Remember to tip baristas, hair salon shampooers and coatroom attendants, too - they are often forgotten.

Finally, if you can't afford to leave a good tip somewhere, don't go there. Service industry workers deserve to be compensated fairly no matter what your budget is.

2. Say hi to an old friend

Send someone you haven't talked to in a while a nice text message. Or a note. Or a delightful meme. (Just make sure it's someone you actually want to talk to first, please.)

3. Offer to help someone out

Babysit for your cousins. Send a care package. Help your roommate do the dishes.

If someone posts a Facebook status asking for help moving, be the one who lends a hand.

Stand up for people who are being harassed and discourage the people around you from using bigoted language. You might have to be firm, and that's okay it will make the world a kinder place in the long run.

6. Make room in your budget to donate

Set aside a bit of your income even if it's just $5 a month for an organization you believe in. Many orgs, including Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and the World Wildlife Fund, allow you to configure a monthly donation, so you can even do the whole "set it and forget it" thing.

7. Take care of something

Could be a kitten, could be a Neopet, could be your desk plant just pick something, work to understand the responsibility of caring for it, then follow through. You’ll be more observant and more empathetic for it.

8. Take care of yourself

You gotta be kind to yourself, too. Whatever your preferred method of self care is a screen break, a warm bath, a fancy smoothie treat yourself to it.

You deserve it, dude.

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