Showing love at home with deeds, not words. How do you do it?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2014-06-24 22:41:40 -0500
Started 2014-06-21 17:41:24 -0500

It seems like I am so often having conversations with clients or friends that include answering the question, “what should I say?” or “how do make him/her understand…?”

The words are right on the tip of your tongue? Maybe. Maybe not.

Like when you want someone to know how important they are to you but you don’t want it to sound like a line from a movie they probably saw. Or, when someone has done something for you and a simple thank you doesn’t even begin to describe how much you appreciate them. Or, when you know someone you care about is suffering and you aren’t even sure if there are even any words that would express what you want to say. If you or family member is living with a chronic condition, you know all about these moments.

We try, often with the best of intentions. But most of us aren’t poets. We’re just people who want to express ourselves to the people we love, and who sometimes fall short.

Let me start out by reassuring you that if you have those times when you aren’t sure of what to say, or if there are even words to say it, you are not alone. I’m right there with you.

Simple gestures we may not even be aware of can make our communication with each other much more meaningful. So meaningful, in fact, that they can convey a whole lot when we’re out of words.

Words can heal. But so can gestures of kindness.

I recently wrote an article on using gestures instead of words to show kindness toward the people in your life. Here’s a link:

So what about you? How do you show kindness to people you care about, and maybe even to strangers? A smile, a pat on the arm, a helping hand? Any stories to share?

38 replies

GabbyPA 2014-06-24 09:36:16 -0500 Report

This is so true. Gestures can bring people together like nothing else. Though, I have to admit, I have had a poem written about me and it's very flattering and thoughtful.

My hubby and I hold hands when we watch a movie and I really like that. We can't hold hands while we walk, because he uses his, so that time is special.

I have a friend who is far away going though a lot of hard times. I sent her a card not with words, but with all kinds of cartoon hugs drawn in it. I have also sent envelopes with little sheets of smiles drawn on them, so they can use one when they need it and then pass them along to other people who might need it.

And I will tell you, noting is more contagious than a smile. Even to a stranger, if someone smiles, you cannot help but smile back. It's a wonderful natural reaction. Even smiling while you are talking on the phone makes a huge difference in what you convey to the one you are speaking with.

A family tradition that my mom started when I was a kid was to pack little notes or gestures in the suit case of the traveling family member. It's like a little surprise of love that pops up unexpected as you unpack your suit case or check inside your pant pockets. I just did this with my step daughter and she saved them all.

I have had to learn to be a recipient as well. I used to turn down an offer for a drink when I would go to a client's home for a meeting. Now I have learned that they are wanting to do something for me....I should accept. It starts the meeting off on a good foot.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-24 22:41:40 -0500 Report

Hi Gabby,

Thanks a lot for chiming in, as always, with you wisdom. I really like the stories about the cards and notes. What takes only a few minutes and minimal effort can make such a difference in the life of the person who receives it. The notes from your mom is a nice image.

And you're right, for us caregivers, we have to remember that it means a lot for other people to do something for us, too.



Kats49 2014-06-23 19:33:51 -0500 Report

2nd response to the question posed by Dr Gary…I am hopeless when it comes to caring for other people, I taught my students (for ages) that your own attitude sent the tone for your day, the audience and room full of people or even strangers. So can't teach what I didn't practice on my own. I have been known to take a homeless person in with me to the grocery store to get some food. I keep one dollar bills and coupons for the soup kitchens in my area. Plus runaway shelters/info for young people on the streets. Sadly more and more every day. I have gone on a Sunday to the Burger Kings in the area to specifically look for Vets to match up those $s. A smile can make a person's day. AND it's free, plus it has a added benefit, it makes you feel good as well.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-24 22:35:59 -0500 Report

HI Kats49,

Thanks a lot for jumping in here with your second response. I agree with you -- when you have a positive attitude, you create a positive atmosphere, and other people respond. Wow, you are really filling your life with acts of kindness, and I am sure you are a blessing to the people you come into contact with. And yes, those smiles come back to you like a boomerang.

Thank you, my friend!


robertoj 2014-06-23 21:51:07 -0500 Report

I practiced and believed this when I was young but became cynical and stopped. Fortunately I married a woman that was generous to a fault. We always seemed to have people living with us. I went along with it but didn't practice it on my own accord until I was 47. It's the best way to live and also my true nature.

RebDee 2014-06-23 15:47:00 -0500 Report

I loved your article and believe what you said is very important. I am a hugger but sometimes I know that the person I am trying to reach does not like touching, so then I must resort to eye contact, listening, responding or not, or sometimes just a note on e-mail will do the trick.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-24 22:24:10 -0500 Report

Hey RebDee,

Thank you so much for your kind words. Glad it was helpful to you. I have learned to be a hugger, too, but it didn't come naturally. And you're right, there are lots of ways to show concern and affection.


Kats49 2014-06-22 16:54:57 -0500 Report

My husband i were married for 35 years, he had type 1 diabetes, I didn't develop type 2 until three years after his death…We had the normal ups and downs but we never fell out of love. He didn't like to do yard work, I didn't like laundry duties so we switched roles. We never went to bed angry with each other. We had arguments and disagreements but somehow those got worked out.We hugged a lot, sometimes just to hear the kids go eew! Held hands on walks…he use to say it was the little things that made or broke a relationship. He was so right. Never fought over material things, never over money never had enough. We both became experts at controlling the budget. Our kids never had new clothes, all were bought from Goodwill or stores like those. When they wanted something brand new we would offer to pay half…made them think about whether they REALLY wanted it when they had to add their own funds. We had a book called hugs that when we first got it we tried them all…that was fun! I think we were a team/lovers/ and friends which helped us through hard times…that helps so much. Miss him terribly but we will be reunited one day.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-24 22:22:04 -0500 Report

Hi Kats49,

Great to see you. And thanks for sharing this incredible tribute to your husband. It sounds like you had a pretty incredible relationship. You certainly were a team. And what a great example you set for your children! So often, money disagreements can add so much stress to a relationship.

Thanks so much for sharing it with us!


RebDee 2014-06-23 16:01:23 -0500 Report

Dear Kats49: Please be my friend on Diabetes Connect. You said it all and just the way it was with me and my wonderful husband who died in 2010 from cancer. We were huggers and hand holders. We never had a fight that didn't end in laughter. He taught the children how to wash their own clothes and put a stool next to the washer so that they could reach. When our son didn't want to separate the colors from the whites, he wore pink underwear for a long time — that was a teaching moment!!! I would love to get that book about HUGS. You made me feel great by reading your reply.

Kats49 2014-06-23 19:21:06 -0500 Report

Book of Hugs by Dave Ross and Laura Radar is the illustrator. There is even a version now for kids that comes as a Big Book…coolness…my son wore pink undies for a time as well…he and his sisters had to do their own laundry as well…funny memory.

Kats49 2014-06-23 19:13:55 -0500 Report

I would enjoy being your friend how do we do that?? I loaned the book out AGAIN and when it returns I'll post the author and the ISN number

jayabee52 2014-06-22 13:46:07 -0500 Report

Howdy Dr G
Thanks for sharing your thoughts which are always meaningful.

Yes gestures are very important. In fact it is one of the "Languages" mentioned in the book "The 5 languages of love" ~ (perhaps you have read it)

With my first wife, mother of my sons, we tried to discover and keep those love languages going between us. One of the languages for which I felt the need was that of respect. For her it was the doing of little acts of love.

Unfortunately those love languages fell out of use with us and now we have a broken marriage for which there seems no remedy.

It is important to reach out to others and show them kindness as well.

God's best to you and yours


Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-23 16:01:27 -0500 Report

Hi James,

Thank you for chiming in here! I thought this discussion would catch your attention because I know that you, too, are all about showing kindess and concern toward others. And I agree, showing respect is also important, another aspect of how we can have a positive impact on the people around us and build better relationships.

We do the best we can, and that's a lot. Sometimes the results are not what we had hoped for, but not because we didn't try.

Nice to see you!


funnygirl98 2014-06-22 12:33:26 -0500 Report

Gary I really liked ur article. For me personally I find that with giving a person a hug smile a wtg great job seems to make my daughter and my sister feel much more better and feel at ease than if I try to talk to them. I care deeply for everyone I meet and get to know and want to be able to make everyone feel better putting myself last or as some say "on the back burner". I'm happy just knowing that if I made someones day better by just smiling at them or hug, etc . I've done my job and makes me feel better in the longrun knowing that I'm a good person and helped when I could;-)

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-23 15:56:27 -0500 Report

Hi funnygirl98,

Thanks for your kind words, and for sharing how you show kindness in yoru life. A hug or a smile can create miracles by making someone else's day that much better and by bring us closer to the people in our lives. Excellent! And yes, know that you have tried to do good to others is a great self-esteem builder.

Thanks a lot!


Trudie Ann
Trudie Ann 2014-06-22 00:22:56 -0500 Report

Thank you Dr. Gary for this discussion. My sweetheart and husband of 40 years loves coconut cream pie (home made) so even though I can't eat it, I fix one for him every now and then just to say thank you, I love, and appreciate you and every thing you do for me. He knows how long it takes to make it and that I like it also but as I am diabetic it raises my blood sugar to much. That is only one out of a thousand things I do for the thousands of things he does for me.
I also try to do my best to help in our community. This morning, on short notice the president of our vol. fire dept. aux. called me almost crying. She had company come in, it was her son and his wife, with a 6 year old granddaughter that she had never seen before. She couldn't get hold any one to chair or to help with a bereavement dinner she was supposed to do today. She asked if there was anyway I could help. I told her not to worry that even though I had never chaired one that I would do my best and for her be with her family and I would also make some calls. I had four ladies show up and we had plenty of food between us. The deceased was a retired military vet. and long standing member of the community. The four ladies who showed up to help me was so very helpful and the family really appreciated all the work we did. Our community is the #1 volunteer charity community in our state seven years running because they all care about the community and the residents in it. We moved here 2 years ago and I love my new home and all the people in it. Even though none of them are on this forum I wish to say " Thank You Ladies for all of your help, you are the best ".

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-23 15:52:47 -0500 Report

Hey Trudie Ann,

Wow, what a great act of kindness. What's better than cocoanut creat pie? Also one of my favorites. And taking the time to make one when you can't join in on the eating makes this gift even that much more special. A great example of an act of kindness!

And a great thing you did for your community. What's also important about this is that, it seems to me, not only did you do a great act of kindness, but it sounds like you gave yourself a push to do something you hadn't done before. That's how we keep on growing! Now you know you are a leader!

Thanks a lot for sharing this!


RebDee 2014-06-21 19:29:12 -0500 Report

Thank you Dr. Gary for starting this discussion, it is thoughtworthy for me. It is like going to visit someone who has lost a loved one and the person says, "I know just how you feel." No you don't. You may have experienced a similar situation but it is never the same exact thing and you really don't know how the other person feels. However, if you go to the person, hug or hold his/her hand, and wait for the person who is hurting to start the conversation, you may find the way to give an answer that will help.

Before my father died from a long bout with cancer, he asked me to do him a favor. He didn't want anyone to say, "Thank God its over." Thank God he is no longer in pain." He wanted people to remember him as a good person and remember his life and the gentlemanly things he did for friends and strangers, for his daughters and wife, his parents and mother in law (whom he never forgot to bring flowers and to hug her). And so I read the wonderful poem called THE DASH which you can find on the internet. The dash is the little line between the date of birth and date of death and how it is used shows the kind of person that is under the memorial plate in the cemetery.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-23 15:45:34 -0500 Report

Hi RebDee,

I appreciate your words of wisdom here. No, we can't every really know what it's like for someone else, what they are feeling. We can listen and learn and be their for them. Just listening is doing someone else a great honor, even if you can't feel what their feeling or "fix" them. Just listen.

And what an inspiration your father was to you. He people to remember him not by lamenting how hard his illness was but by celebrating his life and hopefully showing the same kindness to people in their own lives. A great example he set.

I will check out that poem.

Thanks, RebDee!


jimLE 2014-06-21 19:24:11 -0500 Report

i haven't read the article you wrote.but i do agree with what you say good deed can go so far with a person.take my mom for example.she broke her right ankle a few days ago.then had surgery done on the ankle to speed up the there's cotton a brace of some kind.and a ace bandage on said leg and ankle.i rewrap it time to time on account it starts coming off.she don't even have to say any thing for me to do that..even a simple smile and friendly hello does a person good.i was in florida one summer.and as i was walking down a sidewalk.i said hi to a mother and 3 or 4 maybe 5 year old girl.they both said hi whats more imprtant of which its has stayed with me the most.they get a short distance past.the lil girl said the most touching words i could hear that day.she said,he's a nice i not only touched them with a friendly smile and hello.she touched me with what she said as well.a good deed or a friend word thats simple as saying hi to someone can go a long way with someone..

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-23 15:39:23 -0500 Report

Hey JimLE,

Great to see you. And I appreciate two perfect examples of showing kindness. Just taking time to do a simple act of kindness, like wrapping your mom's anke. makes the world a better place. And I am sure your mom appreciates this more than she say in words. I really like that example of saying hi to the mom and her child. You demonstrated that there are kind people in the world. Who knows. that child may not have very many genuinely kind people in her life.

Your stories also show how much we also benefit from being kind to others.

Thank you!


valentine lady
valentine lady 2014-06-22 10:57:07 -0500 Report

Really enjoyed what you said in your post. In fact all of all of it. I would be saying Happy Day, if some one treated me that way I would be singing and doing the Happy Dance. I do enough for others, some are really happy about it, seems like every other one expect it. I give the best I can to the others., but there is a time you stop giving so much to some people. Good job Jimle.

funnygirl98 2014-06-22 12:47:44 -0500 Report

I get treated the same way… but I know what a good person I am so they have to deal with their own actions.

robertoj 2014-06-23 15:38:44 -0500 Report

It's par for the course. I don't mind. There are rewards. A few years back a homeless man was so excited just because I talked to him.

valentine lady
valentine lady 2014-06-21 18:40:57 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary, This is such a great topic. I'm so glad you submitted this discussion. I really don't have a story to tell, but rather just a comment. I do tell people how special they are. I congratulate those who deserve it. I send love notes to those I care about. I'm always first in line to help when help is needed. Basically, I treat all people the way I want to be treated. Works every time…everyone needs a pat on the shoulder, a squeeze of their hand or a hug, or a simply smile. I agree we all need a boost of love.

valentine lady
valentine lady 2014-06-21 18:40:49 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary, This is such a great topic. I'm so glad you submitted this discussion. I really don't have a story to tell, but rather just a comment. I do tell people how special they are. I congratulate those who deserve it. I send love notes to those I care about. I'm always first in line to help when help is needed. Basically, I treat all people the way I want to be treated. Works every time…everyone needs a pat on the shoulder, a squeeze of their hand or a hug, or a simply smile. I agree we all need a boost of love.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-23 15:30:07 -0500 Report

Hey valentine lady,

Wow, it sounds like you are spreading goodwill at every opportunity. And I am sure it must be appreciated. I wish more people had the same attitude. The world would be a much kinder place as a result. The Golden Rule still applies, in word and in gesture.

Thanks a lot!


robertoj 2014-06-21 18:24:27 -0500 Report

The biggest thing for me is to let her be independent. That is not easy all the time but it is the thing that keeps our relationship from becoming boring even after 30 years of marriage.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-23 15:20:49 -0500 Report

Hi Roberto, We can't control other people, and when we tryi to put a partner "under our thumb," that just creates resentment. Sounds you and your wife have a relationship of mutual trust. Thanks for sharing this. Gary

Katiespace 2014-06-21 18:07:12 -0500 Report

I am a great listener:)K

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-23 15:19:00 -0500 Report

Hi Katiespace, being willing to listen is one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone! Thanks for checking in! Gary

RebDee 2014-06-23 16:13:33 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary: I have a favor to ask. May I send your article to my friends who are not on Diabetic Connect? I believe they would benefit from being told by someone other than myself how to act or what to do when they are with another individual who needs their help in their touch, their listening, their eye contact, etc. I was so impressed with your article that I really believe that my friends will also get benefit from reading it. And then when they visit me after my surgery, they will know what to do.