I love random acts of kindness, I honestly think everyone should aim to do at least one per week. It not only helps out or cheers up another person, I promise you it will make you feel good inside as well. People who are close to us expect us to be kind and generous, but strangers are often shocked when you do something above and beyond for them. It’s the acts of kindness you bestow on the people you don’t know that I think warm the heart the most.
1. Pay It Forward
Random acts of kindness don’t have to be about giving money, but with unemployment at the rate it is and the economy still shaky, paying a fee for someone else may just make their day. The next time you drive through a toll booth, pay for the person behind you as well. Standing behind someone in a coffee shop? When the barista tells them their total, slip in and pay for their order. Think of how surprised and grateful you would be if someone did that for you.
2. Anonymous Card
Cell phones and email have drastically reduced the amount of greeting cards or hand written letters we all send. A handwritten message is such a special and meaningful gesture and it only takes a minute or two to write out a few sweet sentences or a simple “thank you for being you.” Most dollar stores sell cards, but you can always make your own with stuff you already have. Everyone loves to know someone is thinking of them, brighten someone’s day by mailing them a card or tucking a note into their front door.
3. Embrace the Elderly
Many elderly folks live alone, have no family near or are left alone in nursing homes with only the rare visitor here and there. Having a visitor to read to them or listen to their stories means the world to some of them. I used to go every week when I was younger and visit with people in the nursing home down the street from me. I would read to some, play checkers or put puzzles together with some. There was one man who had been in the war and loved to tell me all of his stories. He had family but they lived hours away and never came to see him. My family sort of adopted him; we took him to our house for his birthday and gave him presents and a cake. Visiting with people who have an entire lifetime of wisdom and experience and no one to share it with ends up helping you both in the long run!
4. Cup of Coffee
Two years ago on Black Friday I was working in a retail shop in the mall and a lady came in, followed by her children, carrying bags of McDonald’s pies and several carrying trays of coffee. Both had been on sale when she went to buy breakfast for her kids so she bought several of each and came into the mall and handed them out to all of us tired workers who had been required to show up for work at 4am. I can’t tell you how much that made my day. Police officers, firemen, toll booth workers and so many other people work long tiring days, bring them a coffee. It’s a great way to cheer someone up and only costs about a dollar.
5. Provide Your Services for Free
If you have a talent or service that you are able to provide for free to someone in need, it will not only help them out but it will make you feel great too. If you don’t know someone personally who is in need of something you can offer, post an ad on Craigslist or a similar website. There are so many people out there who are looking for help and don’t know who to turn to or simply don’t have the funds to pay for what they need. If you are able to, give them a hand.
6. Parking Lot Presents
It’s the simple things that really brighten a person’s day. Buy a bouquet of flowers, or even pick some fresh from the side of the road or your own garden, then walk through the parking lot of your favorite store and tuck one flower beneath the windshield wiper of as many cars as you can. If you have a gift certificate to a store you know you’ll never shop at, slip that onto the windshield and let someone else use it instead of letting it go to waste. A simple note “you look nice today,” “I love your dress,” etc., comes as such as surprise and is just enough to get someone smiling for the rest of the day.
It’s officially Spring! Clean out that closet and take all of your unworn clothes to a shelter or give them to a family in need. If you have tons of food that you’re hoarding because you recently started couponing and perhaps have gone a little overboard (that would be me), clean out your cabinets and donate some non-perishables to a food drive. If you don’t have any physical items to donate, donate your time. No matter where you live there are tons of volunteer opportunities around you if you look for them.
When you perform a random act of kindness for someone, they are far more likely to do the same for someone else. If everyone stepped a bit more outside of their comfort zone and made a concentrated effort to do one nice thing for someone else as often as they could, the kindness and generosity would rub off on that person and their generous spirit onto the next person, and the kind deeds would spread like wildfire. What is the greatest random act of kindness you have ever witnessed?