Small Acts of Kindness

“If you’re feeling helpless, help someone.” -Aung San Suu Kyi

The holidays are fast approaching, which often means time to reflect on where you are and where you’ve been this year. You might find yourself in a completely different space than you could have ever imagined. Perhaps it’s exciting, perhaps it’s daunting, perhaps you don’t know how you feel at all. In a time of transition when you have no idea what your next steps will be, you might find solace in turning your attention to others in your life, whether they’re loved ones or strangers with whom you randomly cross paths. Whether planned or spontaneous, an act of kindness has the dual effect of energizing both you and your recipient. You might find that generously caring for someone has a profoundly positive influence on your mood. In the spirit of giving, community and fresh starts, here are ideas, small and large, for sending out positive energy. The thing about kindness is that you can never run out.

Let another driver in and go out of your way to smile and wave at people who do the same for you

Deliver flowers anonymously to a hospital patient

Take an hour or two to pick up stray trash in your neighborhood

Offer to pay someone’s food or drink bill

Bring in lunch or baked goods to the people you work with

Send a text or email to say hello whenever someone pops into your head

Leave a note in a returned library book wishing the next reader a good day

Offer to help your neighbor with yard work

Compliment a stranger if something strikes you about him or her

Drop off blankets at your local animal shelter

Offer to return a stranger’s shopping cart to the bay

Write a review online for a recent experience you enjoyed

Tell a manager when you especially appreciated the service of an employee

Leave positive comments on social media posts you enjoyed

Keep an extra umbrella in your car to give to someone stranded in the rain

Bring treats or a meal to your neighborhood fire station

Send a care package to a friend

Give blood or platelets

Invite people to Thanksgiving who would otherwise be spending the holiday alone

Introduce yourself to a neighbor you haven’t met yet

Drop off a baked good on your neighbor’s doorstep just because

Set up a “little free library” box in your neighborhood

Think about someone who recently impacted you positively and write a thank you note

Reach out to your children’s teachers and ask if they are in need of any supplies

Reconnect with a friend you’ve lost touch with

Forgive someone who has wronged you

Gift a friend a book, gift or treat

Write encouraging notes to your kids and put them in their lunch boxes or under their pillows

Send articles to friends that you think they would like

Show up early

Even if you don’t have an answer right away, reply anyway to texts and emails saying you’ll get back soon

Give yourself at least an hour of guilt-free relaxation per day

Surprise someone with a gift for his or her half birthday

Put in extra effort to make eye contact with people, especially when you are thanking someone

Bring in your neighbor’s trash bins

If you’re happy with the service, give double your usual tip

Send funny memes or gifs to friends

Pause a second longer before answering in an exchange with someone. They may end up sharing more if given the space

Use people’s names more often in conversation with them