[tweet_dis]It’s a fact: Our world prioritizes being successful over being kind.[/tweet_dis] In Western culture in particular, it’s often acceptable to not even say “thank you.” Why smile at a stranger when you’re in a hurry to get to work? Cutting someone off while driving won’t make you popular… but, if it’s in the interest of productivity, then most of us won’t hesitate. Why is it so hard to sell the benefits of being kind? If we just tried being extra kind for one day, it would be so incredibly easy to see that being kind almost always comes back to you.

After the Boston Marathon bombing, my yoga teacher said to us:

“It’s easy to be angry. You probably feel helpless, and unsure of what to do.”

She was right. I was infuriated. I wanted to scream and write angry blog posts aimed at the perpetrators. According to her, at least, that was not the answer. “Be kind,” she advised.

“Smile at people on the streets; make it so that you make a difference in someone else’s day. The little things make all the difference. Imagine you pay for someone’s coffee just because. They might want to pass the happiness and kindness along to someone else. The chain reaction isn’t obvious, but it might be just enough to make a difference.”

The advice stuck with me. Why should I just apply this post-crisis? [tweet_dis]Being kind, whether in wake of an attack or not, comes back in unexpected ways.[/tweet_dis] When you act kindly without reason or without purpose, it’s like putting a piece of happiness and light into the world without expecting anything in return. What’s more yogic than that? Smiling at someone, helping someone pick up papers or compliment a stranger – it’s immensely rewarding. I look forward to the moments of seeing a slightly confused return smile on the face of some disparate soul I’ve never met before.

I believe that being kind makes me happier. When I write a card for someone or just acknowledge their existence with a harder-than-necessary hug, I want to break out in a smile. It’s a strange kind of high that comes only from making someone else’s day better. I encourage you to try it, see what you feel when telling a stranger how lovely their smile is, or when you reach forward to pay for a coffee that isn’t yours. It’s truly one of the things I’ve learned from yoga that I value the most.

Over to you, yogis! How do you practice kindness in your daily life?