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Make My Day: Quotes on Kindness by Famous People

Inspirational essays and articles, with a touch of humor, are favorite topics for Ms. Giordano, a writer and public speaker.

A small act of kindness--like a simple bouquet  of daisies--can make someone's day.

A small act of kindness--like a simple bouquet of daisies--can make someone's day.

What Is the Meaning of “Make My Day”?

A small act of kindness can make someone’s day. Quotes from famous people can help us understand the importance of kindness and the effect it can have in our lives. The original meaning of “make my day” was to make someone very happy. One way to make someone very happy is to be kind to him.

The phrase “go ahead, make my day” has a somewhat opposite meaning. It is said as a dare to someone who is about to do something that will justify the speaker’s desire to do serious harm that person. The person who says “go ahead, make my day” is implying that he will enjoy providing some punishment.

The phrase, “go ahead, make my day” became popular when it was spoken by the character played by Clint Eastwood, Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry), a cop who likes to mete out his own version of justice. In the movie Sudden Impact, a robber has taken a waitress hostage and is threatening to shoot her. Harry points his .44 Magnum into the robber’s face and says, “Go ahead, make my day,” meaning that Harry would be very happy to have an excuse to make himself happy by killing the robber.

I will stick with the original meaning here: Making other people happy by giving help and kindness.

Below are a few “rules” for making someone’s day. I looked for quotes from people known for their success and wisdom on the subject of kindness. These rules will provide guidance about being kind. Memorize these rules and internalize them so that when the opportunity for kindness arises, you will instinctively and unhesitatingly be kind.

A garden can be a metaphor for kindness.

A garden can be a metaphor for kindness.

Understand the Nature of Kindness

The dictionary defines kindness as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Kindness is showing warmth, affection, gentleness, care, concern, helpfulness, thoughtfulness, unselfishness, understanding, and charitableness.

There is a lovely 19th-century primary school rhyme that defines kindness in a metaphorical way.

Kind hearts are the gardens,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the blossoms,
Kind deeds are the fruits.

William Arthur Ward: Author

A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.

Mark Twain: Author

Kindness is the language the blind can see and the deaf can hear.

Andrew Iskander: (Occupation unknown)

Because that's what kindness is. It's not doing something for someone else because they can't, but because you can.

Appreciate the Importance of Kindness

We don’t always realize how important a small kindness can be. You never know when a kind word, a smile, a pat on the back, of a little helpfulness will make all the difference in the world to someone. It may seem like a trifle to you, but it could just be the thing that makes someone’s day.

You won’t necessarily know when someone needs kindness. People don’t always show their feelings—sometimes the people who seem most like they “have it all together” may be the people who most need your kindness.

Henry James: Author

Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.

Leo Buscaglia: Professor, author, and motivational speaker

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Cleveland Armory: Animal rights activist, and author

What this world needs is a new kind of army—the army of the kind.

From the television show My So-Called Life

Sometimes someone says something really small, and it just fits right into this empty place in your heart.

Don’t Be Kind; Be Excessively Kind

Go above and beyond. You know the saying, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” Let’s change it to “you can never be too kind.”

Sometimes it takes a little effort to be kind. We’re busy, we’re tired, maybe we are even angry. That is when we need that little voice inside of us that says, "Be kind."

Each morning when you wake up, let your first thought be, “Be kind today.”

James M. Barrie: Author

Always be a little kinder than necessary.

Mignon McLaughlin: Journalist and author

Don't be yourself — be someone a little nicer.

Maya Angelou: Poet and Author

Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.

A quote from Mary Angelou uses poetry to urge kindness.

A quote from Mary Angelou uses poetry to urge kindness.

Give Kindness With a Generous Heart

Do not be kind begrudgingly. Do not be kind because it is your duty. Be kind because it is your joy to put more love into the world.

When you make someone’s day, you also make your own day. You may be feeling cranky, tired, or worried, but if you can show kindness to someone else, you may find it improves your mood. Kindness can be like a mirror—what you show to others is reflected back to you.

Seneca: Statesman of Ancient Rome

We should give as we would receive: cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers.

Lama Willa Miller: Founder of Natural Dharma Fellowship

Even when you do not feel big-hearted, you can give yourself permission to act that way.

James M. Barrie: Author

Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.

Be Kind to Everyone, Especially the Undeserving

The above statement is a little like a trick question. Should we treat the undeserving with kindness? Yes, because everyone is deserving.

It is easy to be kind when someone is being good to you. It is harder to be kind when someone is rude or insulting. Resist the urge to respond in kind. (Forgive the pun.)

The Bible says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath.(Proverbs 15.1) Responding to bad behavior with kindness might defuse a conflict.

You don’t have to like someone or approve of his behavior to be kind to him. Strive to be kind to everyone.

Author Unknown

Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you—not because they are nice, but because you are.

Samuel Johnson: Essayist and poet

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.

H.L. Mencken: Journalist and essayist

If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl.

Ram Dass: Spiritual teacher and author

Treat everyone you meet as if they are God in drag.

It Is Always the Right Time and Place to Be Kind

It is always the right time to be kind. It is always the right place to be kind. Never let an opportunity for kindness pass you by.

Tenzin Gyatso: 14th Dalai Lama

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

Maya Angelou: Poet and author

Every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

Seneca: Statesman of Ancient Rome

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Essayist and poet

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

Every kindness brings more kindness.

Every kindness brings more kindness.

Pay It Forward

When someone has done us a favor, we naturally want to pay it back by doing something nice for him. Sometimes when we are unable to pay back the benefactor, the best thing we can do is to pay it forward by doing something nice for someone else. Even better is to simply pay it forward whether or not you have benefited from another’s act of kindness. Be the person who initiates the chain of kindness.

The concept of paying it forward is old and has been expressed by many famous people, but the phrase may have been coined by Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight. Lily Hardy Hammond wrote, "You don't pay love back; you pay it forward."

The phrase gained a boost in popularity after the release of the 2000 movie Pay It Forward. The movie was about a junior high school boy who set in motion a chain of kindnesses that not only changed his life, but changed the lives of millions. That is the power of kindness.

John Wooden: Basketball player and coach

You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.

Amelia Earhart: Aviator and author

A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.

Sophocles: Philosopher of Ancient Greece

Kindness begets kindness evermore.

Henry Burton: 17th-century theologian

Pass It On
Have you had a kindness shown?
Pass it on;
'Twas not given for thee alone,
Pass it on;
Let it travel down the years,
Let it wipe another's tears,
'Til in Heaven the deed appears -
Pass it on.

Be Kind Today

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Pay someone an unexpected compliment.
  • Offer to help someone.
  • Do something for someone without being asked to do it.
  • When you are about to say something harsh, say something nice instead.
  • Smile at a stranger if your eyes happen to meet.
  • Say good morning (or afternoon, evening) to everyone you meet.
  • Write a thank-you note on a pretty card and put it in the mail. (No email.) (I got a thank-you card today, and it made my day.)
  • Invite someone to a social event who may be feeling lonely.
  • Let someone get ahead of you in line—maybe someone with young kids in tow would appreciate getting a break.
  • Think of something kind that you could do and add it to this list.

Just for fun:

Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty

The video below is a song for children about kindness being perfect and free. Adults will love it too.

© 2014 Catherine Giordano

I welcome your comments. If you describe a kindness you have received in the past couple of days, it may be an inspiration to others.

Julie K Henderson on May 04, 2015:

You are welcome.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 04, 2015:

Thank you Julie. My favorite is be kinder than you have to be. Thanks for commenting and voting up.

Julie K Henderson on May 04, 2015:

Well done. I especially enjoyed the John Wooden quote; I plan to share it with my friends. Voted up.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on February 03, 2015:

Thanks Rayne123 for your kind words. I love "sappy" movies. They are movies that touch our emotions and pull on our heartstrings and remind us that each of us can make a difference in the lives of others. so glad you liked what I wrote here. Writing it has made me a kinder person.

Rayne123 on February 03, 2015:

Another great hub. I loved that movie "pay it forward" , a movie I believe everyone should see. I have paid it forward when I can.

I have had someone say that it was cheesy, that's ok, he may just need a better look at his life or the world. May have been having a bad day at the time, but its ok, you will get those few.

I love the video, random acts of kindness, this is something more children and even more so adults should watch. There is too much hatred and jealousy in the world today and we have to remember, children are vulnerable, they live what they see and learn, even from home.

Thank you again


Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on December 23, 2014:

I'm going to the mall. While there I will commit random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. It is the gift I give to strangers.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on December 20, 2014:

The best gift is a gift of kindness. Be generous.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on December 05, 2014:

teaches12345: I'm glad you liked m suggestions for small acts of kindness. In my newspaper there is a column called "Ticked off" where people complain about what they don't like about other people. Below it is "The Flip Side" where people report acts of kindness. I skip the first and read the second. The second reminds me to take the time to be kind.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on December 05, 2014:

FlourishAnyway: I loved your story of kindness in WalMart. You confirmed the point that I was making about how a small act of kindness can literally make your day.

Dianna Mendez on December 04, 2014:

Kindness is a virtue that changes someone's attitude quickly, especially when it is unexpected. I love your message and suggestions for showing kindness to others.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 04, 2014:

I value small acts of kindness. I was shopping at Walmart the other morning and picked up a large 40 pound box of cat litter and the cardboard box handles broke. Immediately a young man who worked there came out of nowhere and said "Here, late me get you another one.". He lifted it into my basket and was so sweet. I haven't received that unexpected courtesy from a Walmart employee in a long time. It made my day.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on December 01, 2014:

Thank you, Ms. Dora. As I said at the start, "u can never be too rich or too thin ... or too kind. Thank you for your comment.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 01, 2014:

I especially love the quote by Ram Dass. They're all very good. We can't go wrong with kindness--everybody does better when they receive it. Thanks for the lovely quotes.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on December 01, 2014:

I'm so glad to have "made your day." As you say, kindness, both given and received, gives immense pleasure,. Thank you for being kind to me by taking the time to write a comment.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 01, 2014:

Wonderful hub with nice collection of quotes!

Nothing can be more Humane, than to be kind to others. I follow this basic rule of humanity and it gives me immense pleasure, when people return the same to me.

Thanks for 'Making my day.'

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on November 30, 2014:

Thanks Iris. I agree--paying it forward is a great way to live. I'm glad you liked my quotes and found them uplifting. I felt uplifted while I wrote it.

Cristen Iris from Boise, Idaho on November 30, 2014:

You're always uplifting. These quotes are great. The pun was even better.

I've always liked the idea of paying it forward too. It seems more genuine and grateful.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on November 30, 2014:

Thank you, CrisSp. I agree with you that compliments should be sincere. You can always find something to genuinely compliment people on. Writing this essay has reminded me that I need to try to always be kind because sometimes I fall short of the ideals I advocate here. I hope it has the same effect on others.

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on November 30, 2014:

My trick is to always compliment people specially at work and it's even more effective when it is sincerely expressed.

Beautiful hub with beautiful message. Up and sharing.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on November 29, 2014:

Carolann. Kinda nice? I get it. We are going to have puns here. thanks for your comment.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on November 29, 2014:

Thank you BillyBuc. It was kind of you to let me know glad you enjoyed the piece.

Carolann from Alaska on November 29, 2014:

Acting kinda to others is always the way to go! Some may be extremely hateful but fighting back is not right!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 29, 2014:

Great message, loved the quotes, well-written. This one has everything I could ask for.