10/06/2014 01:34 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2014

Practicing Mindful Acts of Kindness

Albert Schweitzer once said, "Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate."

Treating ourselves and others with loving-kindness starts with speaking gently and politely, in a manner that communicates respect. Showing kindness to others is possible when we make a commitment to practice loving-kindness and well-wishing, regardless of the difficulty or disappointment of the situation. Moreover, treating others with kindness has the potential to bring out the best in others. Thus, showing kindness increases the chances of improving relationships and situations.

Gary Chapman, a writer, minister and family counselor suggests, making a list in the evening of all the instances of kindness we experienced that day. These instances can come through the actions or words of others or from us.

Kindness and compassion should not be relegated to random feelings -they should be cultivated as a mindful, ongoing conscious practice. We have to teach ourselves how to be kind even if we are not feeling particularly compassionate-even if we are too overwhelmed to feel kind. Kindness should be, for lack of a better word, a discipline.

We have all heard of the popular phrase, "Practice Random Acts of Kindness". I would suggest the exact opposite and say "Perform Non-Random Acts of Kindness." After all, if by kindness we mean simple human respect and dignity - qualities that are essential to the core of our basic humanity - I think we would all agree that there should be nothing random about it. Kindness shouldn't be random - instead, it should be purposeful and even mandatory.

Here are some suggestions for practicing this wonderful virtue. Grocery stores are good places to show your kindness. If you see someone struggling to carry his or her groceries, compassionately offer help. If you are not in a hurry, let a person get in front of you in the checkout line. Talk to the cashier, help her if there is no bagger. If you are happy with the cashier, take time to share your gratitude and compliment him or her, volunteer to speak to the manager to provide your gratitude for excellent service. Your appreciation could lead to someone's career advancement. If someone is short of money, offer to make up the difference.

As often as you go to the grocery store, make it a point to smile at each person you pass by. This is easily doable. These are the little things in life that are the most pleasurable.

Making kindness a way of life on a daily basis is not difficult. We can offer a smile, teach what others need to know, lend a helping hand, encourage with our words, listen, give our time, give a gift card, share coupons, and call and offer to sit with someone at a shelter, mission, hospice, or nursing home.

In acts of personal kindness, the only real reward is the sense of deep contentment that comes from doing what we know is right!