Practicing random acts of kindness is fun because doing so delights others. But being kind is also good for you. A 2018 University of Oxford study found that performing acts of kindness over the course of a week boosted happiness. Another Harvard Business School study found that, when people recalled spending a sum of money on others or themselves, they often had happier memories when they spent money on others.
Every day, we have opportunities to practice kindness that cost little to nothing but can pay off in big ways. Here are 12 ideas you can try today.
One of the easiest ways to be kind is to give someone a sincere compliment. Did someone do something to help you? Does a neighbor’s garden make you happy whenever you walk by it? Say so, either in person or be leaving a note. For a compliment to be effective, it should be sincere and specific. For example, “Your positive attitude really lifts my spirits,” or “Every time I walk by your colorful garden, I smile. It’s clear you’ve worked hard to create something so beautiful.” Better yet: challenge yourself to give a certain number of compliments in a day or a week.
When you’ve had a good experience with an employee, make sure others know about it. Find the manager or write a note after the fact, mentioning the employee by name. If the company offers a survey for you to fill out after your transaction or customer service call, give the employee high marks if they did a good job. You may even be helping them get a better performance review, raise, or promotion.
Have a friend or relative you haven’t heard from in a while? Send a call or text to check in and let them know that you miss them. Knowing that someone is thinking about you and that your absence matters feels good.
Small businesses are a critical part of the community. If you’ve had a good experience, write a positive review of the business online. And, when you have the opportunity, buy from local small businesses, too.
If you’re running to the grocery store, reach out to a friend or neighbor who might need a little help, such as an elderly person or a new parent, and offer to pick up a few things for them or run an errand they need done.
If you have a few extra quarters lying around, leave a few on top of the air machine at your local gas station or at the laundromat. You might help a stranger who is short a few coins.
If you’re merging in traffic, let someone safely in your lane of traffic. And if you’re able to do so, park farther away from your destination to leave closer parking spots open for someone who might not be able to do so.
If you’re in line at a store or eatery, let someone go ahead of you, especially if they’re in a hurry. For example, first responders have to eat on the fly and may be called away to attend to an emergency any moment. Let them go first. And if someone behind you at store has just a few items while you have many, wave them ahead of you.
Whether you bring a trash bag and gloves with you during your morning walk and pick up litter or organize a cleanup at a local river or park, find ways to leave your surroundings a little bit better. You could also offer to plant some flowers for a neighbor or work in a community garden.
The crossing guard. The security guard or door attendant in your building. The camp counselor. Every day, you’re surrounded by hardworking people who could use a little boost. Bring some water or coffee to someone who would enjoy it. Or have a meal delivered to a friend in need.
If you see someone unloading their cart at the grocery store, offer to take it for them. And always return your own cart to the appropriate location so it doesn’t roll away and damage cars in the parking lot.
Looking for more ideas to practice? The Random Acts Foundation publishes a free calendar that lists ideas for daily acts of kindness. Download it at the organization’s website.