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You will probably agree with me when I say that learning how to be caring can make a huge impact on the world around us. The best thing is that you don't have to be a degreed social worker or wealthy philanthropist to show that you care for other human beings.
In this article, I'm going to teach you how to be caring in ways that offer benefits to both you and other people. Caring more often starts with gratitude for what you have and the desire to help others who perhaps have less or are struggling in some fashion.
What Does It Mean to Be Caring?
A caring person actively shows empathy and/or sympathy to other living beings. While empathy allows a person to feel other people's feelings, caring denotes actively checking in on a person to ensure they're OK and have what they need.
Having sympathy for another person means that you have a genuine concern for what they're going through. On the other hand, empathy means that you can actually feel someone's pain.
Caring goes beyond someone's healthcare. You can show you care by making yourself available to someone when they need to talk. Also, you can stop what you're doing to help another person who is struggling.
The act of caring can also extend to things outside of humanity. For example, you can care about animals or the planet.
Why Should We All Strive to Be More Caring?
One of the greatest challenges of the modern era is an overall inability to care about issues outside of ourselves.
Here are some of the benefits of being more caring.
13 Ways to Be a More Caring Person
If you're struggling to learn how to be caring, these 13 tips and best practices can start you on the right path.
1. Show you care with actions, not words.
Do actions really speak louder than words? Absolutely.
For some people, making promises is easy. What's more challenging is actually following through on our promises. Being a caring person involves the follow-through process.
When it comes to being a more caring person, it's crucial to show people you care with actions, not words. And when you let people down, it's important to apologize and work actively to make amends. No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. What really matters is how you handle it afterward.
2. Ask people how they are doing (and show genuine interest in their answers).
As a society, we're guilty of often asking someone mindlessly, “How are you?” How often do we really mean these words, and are we prepared for an answer that isn't the standard, “Fine, how are you?”
When you ask someone how they're doing, take the time to look them in the eye. You can also use physical touch if appropriate. Touching someone on the shoulder or shaking their hand when you ask how they're doing will give the distinct impression that you genuinely care about how they're doing.
3. Notice the details (and remember them).
Have you ever noticed that when we remember the small things that people share with us, it really matters to them? Leadership experts teach that remembering these details about a person's life makes a huge difference in how they feel about themselves and how they perceive you.
One way to help you remember what's important to people is to take good notes. You can use a contacts app for this, or you can keep a journal about the people you meet. Then, reach out to that person with details that they've shared with you in the past.
4. Make yourself observe the needs of other people.
In your lifetime, you will encounter many people who need your help. The fact is, some of these people will never ask for help, and because they are too proud to ask, you may never be aware that they are struggling.
Take time to look around you at the people you're interacting with. If you're an observant person, you will begin to see opportunities to help other people.
This person may be a struggling co-worker who is having a hard time getting all of their tasks done. Additionally, a family member may need help completing their chores.
5. Pick your battles carefully.
Not everything is worth a fight. The one thing you can do to alienate people and make them feel that you don't care about them or understand them is to nit-pick the little things.
When you pick your battles, you can save the charged conversations for when they really matter. Your loved ones will know that you're still aware of the smaller issues, but they will appreciate that you care enough to pick your battles.
Not everything is worth a huge battle. You can also postpone talking about a difficult subject for when you're in a more positive headspace.
6. Help when you can, even if it's in small ways.
While grand gestures are great if you can do them, some of the nicest things we can do for other people are actually smaller gestures. Don't wait until you can do something big before reaching out to a person in a caring way.
You can do many little things that show that you care about a person. For example, offering someone a ride home can make a huge difference in someone's life. Catching a ride instead of walking could save someone money or even make them feel safer.
7. Interact on social media in a meaningful way.
Interacting in person is ideal, but social media interaction can be very valuable to them if you can't be with someone in person.
Most of us know that social media feeds our brains little bursts of serotonin when we see someone “liked” our photos. Why not spread the love liberally?
That person posting photos of their cat or grandchild may be lonelier than you realize. Letting them know you care by liking or commenting on their photos can give them a boost. Even better, reach out via messages and ask them how they're doing.
8. Be quick to apologize, even if you're not in the wrong.
We all make mistakes, and for most of us, our first instinct may be to become defensive about our mistakes. One thing you can do to show you care about someone is to be quick to offer an apology.
What if you're not wrong? Then apologize for how you've made that person feel. While you may not have meant harm, sometimes we inadvertently hurt someone. Being quick with an apology shows that we care more about them than we do about our bruised egos.
9. Send hand-written notes of encouragement.
In this era of text messages, emails, and social media, nothing carries as much weight as a handwritten letter or note. You never know when reaching out to someone will brighten their otherwise dreary day.
One idea is to keep some blank cards handy, or you can even make handmade cards that really show you went to some trouble to make something special for them. Even a simple “thinking of you” seems much more genuine than the same words sent in an email.
10. Give without the expectation of getting something in return.
Too often, when people give, it's with the expectation of getting something in return. One trait of a caring person is someone who gives with no expectation of getting something back.
11. Schedule your check-ins with the people you care about.
When you're trying to do more acts of caring, it's easy to forget our best intentions. One way to make sure you're actively practicing being a more caring person is to schedule your caring acts.
You can use a planner or calendar to schedule calls to the people you care about. Also, making a note on your calendars of people's special dates will ensure that you remember their birthdays, anniversary, and more.
12. If someone needs a meal, share one with them.
Food is one of the most basic human needs, and there is a lot of food insecurity in the world. If you know someone needs a meal, reaching out to share one with them is one of the most caring things you can do.
This may be a co-worker who you know is struggling financially. In some situations, you may find yourself with an opportunity to help a homeless person. And sharing a meal isn't just about human beings, either. When we show care to hungry animals, it's rewarding to us and helps them.
13. Learn active listening.
We have all been guilty of this. Have you ever had the feeling that someone isn't really listening to you, but they're actually waiting for their turn to talk? This is very common.
One thing to do to make people understand that you care is to practice active listening. Don't wait for your turn to talk. Instead, repeat back to them the things they say to you and get clarity on what they are trying to convey.
Final Thoughts on How to Be Caring
Now that you know how to be caring, you're all set to go into the world and spread love and goodness. Caring feels good on so many levels, both emotional and physical. Conversely, don’t get caught in the trap of caring too much for people that may not reciprocate or appreciate it.
However, if you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by loving family and friends and want to be a better person, you may just need a bit of motivation to get you there. Check out this article, 75 Empathy Quotes That Demonstrate Compassion for Others to get started.