The Benefits of Being Kind, Honest, & Loving to Others


Attract Those Who are Like Us

A few days ago when I was driving, I pulled over at a local gas station to fill up my tank. I had been to this particular station only a few times before. I went inside the station and gave the gentleman behind the counter $20 before going out to pump my gas. When I had finished, I noticed that I had been erroneously given $30 worth of gas instead of $20. I immediately went back inside and handed the man another $10, explaining the situation. He looked astonished and thanked me profusely. As I drove away, I thought about what had occurred. I asked myself why the gas station attendant was so surprised that I had walked back in and given him that extra $10. And I asked myself, “Why did I do that?” My experience at the gas station on that day inspired this article about the benefits of being kind, honest, and loving to others.

I am not going to explore the typical rationalities for my behavior, the ones you have undoubtedly heard many times over, such as, “You ought to behave justly because God is looking over your shoulder,” or, “You ought to behave honorably because this is what your parents taught you,” et cetera. The truth of the matter is that I didn’t act for any such reason. Indeed, my thought process was much simpler.

What would I have wanted to happen if our roles were reversed, if it was I who was working at that gas station? As a gas station attendant, I would probably only be making minimum wage, and thus I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to give anyone an extra $10 worth of gas. If the customer hadn’t come back in and given me that $10, I may have gotten into big trouble with my boss over the discrepancy. I could have even lost my job! And if I did lose my job as a result of my oversight, I might not be able to get another one in this sluggish economy. In the end, I am so very glad that the customer came back and gave me that $10!

This anecdote clearly illustrates that it makes perfect sense to treat others as you would like to be treated. The gas station attendant could have lost his job because of a simple error. As he was a middle-aged man, he was surely supporting a family and most likely was just barely getting by. Judging by his thankfulness when I came back in, who knows what repercussions he may have faced if I hadn’t been so honest? The obvious benefit of helping and being kind and loving to others is that doing so positively affects those around us.

In another way, on a deeper level, helping and being kind and loving to others also has a positive effect upon us. As we proceed through life, we expect others to treat us in the same manner in which we treat them. If we treat others in a loving, kind, and honest way, we expect the same from them in return. This is how I view life. I try to treat others with honesty, kindness, and respect, and I expect the same back from them. Of course, I don’t always get back in return that which I put forth, but I see this as an anomaly. When this happens, I think to myself, “This person is probably just having a bad day or going through a rough time, and I don’t need to judge him or her. I just hope things are better for him or her in the future.”

I want to share with you an amazing benefit of leading your life in this manner. The only way to experience this is to try it out for yourself. So give it a shot and see if it works! Because I live my life this way, I really do expect others to treat me as I treat them. If I accidentally leave my wallet, keys, or some other personal item at a public place such as an airport or mall, I expect it to be there when I get back or for someone to have turned it in. Believe it or not, this is usually the case! Really, my misplaced item is almost always returned and/or waiting in the same spot for me. Perhaps you think I’m just a very lucky person. In truth, this doesn’t always happen 100% of the time. However, I try not to worry. When I am not reunited with my item, I think to myself, “That’s how life rolls. Sometimes we lose things, but most of the time things turn out pretty well.” Because I sincerely try to treat others well, this positive energy that I put out truly seems to come back to me more often than not.

I’m not deluding myself. I realize that things may be stolen from me as frequently as they may be stolen from you; people may be dishonest to me as equally as they may be dishonest to you. I simply don’t waste a lot of time and energy thinking about it. I honestly think that people are mostly like me, and so I expect people to treat me kindly in return. Because I see life this way, this is how I experience it. If I go to the store and the clerk is somewhat rude, I just say “Hmmm, he must be having a bad day. Maybe I can do something to make it better, you never know,” and sometimes I can. Of course, sometimes I can’t, but that’s just how life is. The important thing is that I’m not going to let another person’s bad day ruin my day. That would be silly! I’d much rather have a good day, and keep positive and be happy.

If we treat others in a kind, loving way, then we can expect others to treat us similarly. By treating others in a kind and loving way, we can increase our chances of being happy. Of course, other people will not always reciprocate our positive energy, but our expectations will increase the odds of it happening. We’ll begin to only be attracted to those people who treat us similarly. With time, we’ll start surrounding ourselves with kind, loving, and honest people.

Let me offer another analogy. I am very good at mathematics and I understand statistics pretty well. If I were to visit Las Vegas to gamble, I know I wouldn’t have a very good time because I am aware that in order to get my money, the casinos don’t have to cheat or rob me; all they have to do is get me to play a game. And if I play any game long enough, they’re going to beat me. It’s really that simple. My understanding of mathematics shapes my interaction with the gambling world, and so it’s hard for me to gamble for fun. I may go once in a while, but gambling isn’t something that I feel an attraction towards. It’s the same way with people. Because I have an understanding of people as being kind, loving, and honest, I tend to be around people that are kind, loving, and honest. I don’t judge those that aren’t; I just am not around them. My understanding of people shapes my interaction with others.

If someone were to cheat me or to be dishonest with me, I would say, “Well, that’s too bad.” Rather than dwelling upon the situation or letting the negativity ruin my day, I would take it as a learning opportunity, and in all likelihood, would cease to socialize with the person. As I go through life, I expect people to be honest, kind, and loving. I am more surprised when they don’t act this way. I expect other people to be honest, kind, and loving and this usually makes my day and my life go pretty well.

While I have shared a lot of my own, personal stories here, there is perhaps a lesson in this for all of us. There are many benefits of being kind, honest, and loving to others. You never really know what the full effect of the kindness you show towards others may be. One of my favorite sayings is, “If you pull a blade of grass, the entire universe shakes.” We can never predict what will happen when we reach out to others with kindness and love. Our actions just might produce truly extraordinary results. If we’re going through our day reaching out with kindness and love and honesty, we may indeed be shaking the entire universe.

When we act with honesty, kindness, and love, then we will begin to expect the people around us to do the same. Because of this, we’ll start surrounding ourselves with people who are honest and kind and loving, even in new situations. Life will begin to flow much better. Life won’t be so much, “My dukes are up. Don’t get too close to me or I’ll punch you,” but instead will be more like, “I sure would like to give you a hug. I love you.” Really.

One last thing may happen: things in your life may just go better. Try it out for yourself! Take this approach of being loving and kind and honest to other people, and see if your life flows better and if people reciprocate with positivity most of the time. What I think you’ll find is that mostly, life will flow well.

Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, international speaker, and meditation expert who has been counseling individuals, families, nonprofits, and businesses for over twenty years. A contributing writer to Psychology Today, he has authored numerous books and creates a weekly podcast on happiness at HappinessPodcast.Every time we think about How to Be Happy, we must take a look at our choices. These choices do not mean the options that you have to choose but those which are being offered to you and somehow you deny those in order to wait for something much better.