There is a reason it is said that kindness is contagious. From giving up your seat on the train for an elderly person to holding a door for someone who has their hands full, there are many opportunities for simple acts of kindness in our everyday lives.
In crowded public places surrounded by strangers, it can become easy to feel frustrated and forget your manners. These types of environments, however, often create opportunities which invite random acts of kindness (aka the most selfless of good deeds).
If you see a child who seems to be separated from his/her guardian, do something. If someone has dropped an item and hasn't seemed to notice, say something. While there are many reasons to aim for a constant awareness of your surroundings, common courtesy in public places requires an awareness of not just your own agenda, but the agendas of those around you. It takes only a matter of seconds to take notice of your environment, but that extra glance may easily put you in a position where you are able to lend a hand to a stranger in need.
Learn to be a Little More Patient
Who likes running errands? Especially after a long day at work, we ideally would all like to complete these mundane tasks as quickly as possible. As much of a rush as you are in, however, you should always be aware/courteous of those around you.
A few days ago I was at a local convenient store when I noticed a woman struggling with a basket full of groceries, a puppy in one arm, and a little girl by her side. As she came up to the line, I asked if she would like to step in front of me. She seemed very surprised, and with wide eyes asked me if I was sure, considering I only had one item. I motioned for her to go ahead, and she very graciously thanked me after making her purchase.
While this only cost about two minutes of my day, I could tell how completely appreciative this stranger was that I offered that small amount of time to make her life a tiny bit easier. Based on her genuine gratitude, I would imagine (and hope) that she explained to the child she was with the importance of kindness after leaving that store.
Your Kindness Is Being Caught
Again, kindness truly is contagious! Keep in mind, people generally do not expect strangers to step up and save their day. For this reason, random acts of kindness turn you into a mini-hero for that person. When someone goes out of their way to make you feel special, it is a natural reaction to want to share your story/situation with friends or loved ones. Social media sites, especially, have become a platform to instantly promote examples of kindness. Chances are, the stranger you helped will share their story with at least one person, snowballing your kindness and encouraging others to behave the same way.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle
By training your brain to become more aware of other people, kindness will eventually become more of a reaction than an effort. After all, cruelty free living begins with a very basic demand for common decency and courtesy. I encourage you to begin by becoming more aware of your surroundings, and challenge you to utilize that awareness in being courteous and kind to others. Good luck!