Did you know that performing random acts of kindness can profoundly affect your attitude, outlook and even your health? That’s according to the Mayo Clinic, which also says practicing kind acts can “rewire your brain” to help you be more present to others while boosting your mood. For some people, the more random an act of kindness is, the better.
You can start right now with our 30-day challenge. Just choose and carry out a random act of kindness for each day. By the time you finish, you’ll be well on your way to making the world a kinder place.
1. Leave an Extra Big Tip
Give a restaurant server, takeout delivery person, or curbside pick-up employee a moment—or maybe even an entire day—of joy by leaving a $5, $10 or $20 tip instead of the usual amount. That extra tip could be just what that person needs to buy lunch, diapers or a few more groceries.
2. Pay for the Next Person in Line
Next time you pay at the drive-thru, spring for the order of the person behind you, too. Your kind gesture may inspire that person to carry out a few kind acts of their own.
3. Love on a Shelter Animal
Shower a homeless animal with kindness by volunteering to walk or play with dogs or cuddle cats at your local animal shelter or rescue organization. Maybe you could even foster a dog or cat while it waits for a home. Or donate dog or cat food, old towels and blankets, cleaning supplies, pet toys or money. To get an idea of what homeless pets need most, contact a local shelter or rescue, such as The N.O.A.H. Center, to find out which items are on its wish list.
4. Hold the Door for Someone
Offering a smile and holding the door for the person behind you may be just what that person needs to forge on through a rough day. Your kind act may even motivate that person to do the same for someone else in need of an open-door moment.
5. Leave Money on a Vending Machine
Who wouldn’t love to find a couple bucks and a note saying, “This treat is on me. Enjoy!” while digging for change at a vending machine? Leave some quarters or bills for the next person to make their day.
6. Feed Someone’s Parking Meter
We’ve all stood anxiously in line, knowing that nearby, our parking meter was ticking down to zero. Save some delayed person from a parking ticket by dropping in enough change to buy another hour.
7. Commend a Store Employee
Retail and grocery store workers are doing their best to keep us stocked up on what we need during a time when many customers are impatient or cranky. Compliment an employee to the available supervisor or send the manager a card or email commending an employee’s efficiency or helpful attitude. That card posted in the employee break room will boost that worker’s mood and inspire others.
8. Send a Card to a Friend
Everybody loves receiving a surprise “just because I like you” card. Mail or drop off a card telling someone how much you appreciate their friendship or encouraging them through a rough patch.
9. Post an Encouraging Note in a Public Place
Make someone smile with an encouraging and positive quote or statement posted on a restroom mirror. Reading an encouraging note like, “You’re beautiful just as you are,” or, “Hang in there. Change will come,” may be what someone needs to keep moving forward.
10. Help a Neighbor
Mow a neighbor’s lawn, shovel the driveway or rake leaves. Offer to take your neighbor’s dog on daily walks while he or she recovers from surgery. Be a good neighbor, and your neighbors will also be there when you need them.
11. Compliment Someone
Let a coworker know that he or she did an outstanding job on a project. Compliment a mom on what a good job she’s doing raising her kids. Give your neighbors kudos for their manicured lawn or thriving flower or vegetable garden.
12. Participate in a Virtual Fundraiser
You may not be able to pound the pavement in a 5K right now, but you can still raise money through a virtual fundraiser. Find a cause you care about online or create your own with a Go Fund Me page. Organize a canned food or coat collection drive in your neighborhood and volunteer to pick up and drop off collected items.
13. Donate to a Cause You Care About
Give bathroom basics, diapers or clothing to a women’s shelter or homeless shelter. Donate your old phone. Donate used eyeglasses to national organizations such as New Eyes, a United Way Agency, or Lion’s Club International. You may even be able to donate glasses to a local church, or a local vision center. Search online for a cause you care about and donate money, items or time.
14. Post a Positive Review
Were you pleased with the small business owner who repaired your furnace or a restaurant with speedy curbside pick-up? Put in a good word with a positive review on Yelp, Facebook neighborhood groups or other online review platforms.
You’re halfway there! Feeling inspired? Share your ideas for random acts of kindness or a kind act that you practice regularly in the comments when you’re done reading.
15. Hold Off on That Negative Review
Before you write a scathing review of that surly pizza delivery person, cut that worker some slack. After all, you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life. Maybe she was preoccupied with her kids’ school closing, or he was worried about his mom’s declining health. Sometimes, holding back harsh words is a true act of kindness.
16. Bring Treats to Work
Nothing cheers a weary coworker like finding a plate of muffins, donuts, cookies or some healthy breakfast bars on the break room table. Don’t have a workplace because you’re retired or working from home? Send office treats with someone you know who’s still commuting to an office or donate food to our local fire station or hospital.
17. Deliver Homemade Food to a Friend
Doesn’t it seem like food always tastes better when someone else prepares it? Next time you make a big pot of soup, a stir-fry dish or a favorite entree, portion out some to deliver to a friend. Even if you can’t go inside each other’s homes safely, you can still smile, wave and even chat outside while social distancing when you make the drop-off.
18. Post an Encouraging Quote on Social Media
Search online for inspirational, encouraging or funny quotes. Then post them on Facebook, Instagram or another social media platform. Who knows? A quote you post may change someone’s outlook for the better. Need help getting started? Search BrainyQuote, Goodreads and Pinterest to find quotes that speak to you.
19. Volunteer to Help Others
Even during the pandemic, when social distancing may limit face-to-face volunteering, you can find organizations that welcome your help. Maybe you can answer phone calls from home, deliver meals, hand out groceries at a drive-up food pantry or tutor students via Zoom. To get started, search online under “volunteer opportunities” and your city’s name.
20. Call Someone Who Lives Alone
When people are stuck at home, even hardcore introverts miss their day-to-day banter. And those who thrive on social connections really feel the pain of isolation. So, keep your friends who live alone in mind and call them regularly for conversation and mutual encouragement.
21. Be Kind to the Birds
Hang a bird feeder, provide fresh water or scatter seed on your sidewalk. Food is scarce in the winter for our feathered friends, and watching them feed outside your window has a calming effect on you, too.
22. Pamper Pets
Buy some chew toys for your dog or something for your cat to bat around the house. Bond with your dog or cat with petting and massages. Give your puppy an extra walk. Drizzle tuna juice on your kitty’s food. Buy your bird a new mirror for its mental stimulation. You’ll all be happier as a result. Don’t have a pet? See challenge #3.
23. Let Someone Else Ahead in Line
If you’re not in a hurry at the grocery store, pharmacy or coffee shop, you can bet someone else is. So, smile and let the person behind you in line go ahead. Maybe your kind act will inspire them to do the same for someone else as they roll their cart down the long aisle of life.
24. Send a Surprise Gift
Surprise a friend with a book, warm scarf, canister of popcorn, coffee or tea, or another gift that will make them smile. Or, give a virtual gift with music downloads, online classes or a subscription to a streaming service, wine club or a meditation app.
25. Donate to a Food Pantry
Next time you grocery shop, pick up extra canned fruits, vegetables, soups and beans, pasta and rice and donate them to a local food bank. Donate to a “little food pantry,” a movement of mini pantries stocked and used by “neighbors helping neighbors” in your city or county. Your donated items will help struggling families and individuals go to bed with full stomachs and one less worry on their minds.
26. Send a Thank You Card to an Essential Worker
Send a thoughtful card to hospital staffers, grocery store and retail workers, police officers, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, city employees or other essential workers. Tell them how much you appreciate what they do and the sacrifices they make to keep everything up and running.
27. Thank a Teacher
Does your child or grandchild have a teacher that inspired them or took extra time to help them tackle a difficult subject? Thank him or her with a card, kind email, note to a supervisor or a small gift.
28. Donate Books
Books are meant to be read, not to gather dust on shelves. So, donate used books to senior living communities, children’s or other hospitals, jails, prisons, women’s shelters, public libraries or anywhere else people seek to expand their minds. While you’re at it, donate a few to those “little libraries” dotting neighborhood streets, maybe even taking a book for yourself in exchange.
29. Give a Friend a List of Their Best Qualities
List 10 things you love about a friend in an email or card and send it to that person. You might write, “You have the best sense of humor,” for example. Or, “You were there for me during my divorce.” Or, “I admire your compassion towards animals.” Speak from your heart, and you and your friend will both benefit.
30. Receive Kindness
It’s easy to focus so much on being kind to others that you forget to let people extend some kindness to you. If a neighbor clears snow from your driveway, smile and say thank you. When someone compliments you, accept graciously. Allow yourself to soak up random acts of kindness from others so they can also feel good about adding kindness to the world.
Now that you’ve got some ideas for random acts of kindness, go with this list or think of some ideas of your own. Track your progress and share with your family, friends and co-workers. You may enjoy the feeling you get from random acts of kindness so much that being kind to others becomes a consistent part of your everyday life.
Content created by Laura Jensen and Hartford Insurance