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Your Well-being

Acts of kindness

New York Teacher

Do you tend to be a “glass half full” or a “glass half empty” kind of person?

If you dwell on the negative, reliving frustrations and anger, you can feel trapped inside those emotions. Conversely, when you focus on the things you are grateful for, it can have a ripple effect on your mood and your entire day.

One of the best ways to practice gratitude and foster your own sense of well-being is by doing simple acts of kindness for others. The week of Feb. 17 is National Random Acts of Kindness Week, a reminder to put kindness first and share it generously. After all, everyone appreciates kindness, and you never know who is having a hard day and how your simple act of kindness can lift their spirits.

You can surprise a loved one, a colleague or even a stranger with an act of kindness. The gift will be reciprocal: When you’re being kind to others, you will also feel a lift. It can make you feel more connected to others and enhance your sense of community and belonging.

There are many ways to be kind to others. Here are just a few:

  • Tell someone you know how much they mean to you.
  • Show respect for everyone you come into contact with.
  • Do something unexpected for someone you care about, such as giving a small gift for no reason or a hug.
  • Support someone in need by giving food or encouragement or by sharing a sense of hope for a better outcome.
  • Don’t take your relationships for granted. Let your partner, colleagues and friends feel your appreciation by helping out with tasks and offering emotional support.
  • Cut back on the complaints and ramp up the thank-you’s. We have control over our thoughts, and that small shift can make a world of difference.
  • Really listen. That sense of presence and attention is a great gift of kindness in itself.

Call the UFT’s Member Assistance Program at 212-701-9620 to speak with a licensed clinician or email