Make My Day: Quotes on Kindness by Famous People
A Simple Bouquet of Daisies
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.
Kind Hearts Are the Gardens
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.
Be the Rainbow
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.
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.
Kindness Begets 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:
Has someone done something kind for you in the past couple of days? (You can explain your answer in the comments.)
Randome 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.
Random Acts of Kindness
© 2014 Catherine Giordano