Showing altruism benefits both the receiver and the giver. As Feb 17 is Random Acts of Kindness day, Calvin Holbrook shares some great ideas for paying it forward: spread joy with these 22 inspiring random acts of kindness.


Originally founded by the  Random Acts of Kindness Foundation  in 1995, the idea behind the annual random acts of kindness day has grown in popularity recently. It's celebrated by individuals, groups and organizations worldwide, to encourage acts of kindness and spread happiness through communities. Indeed, the day represents 24 hours when people have the chance to focus on spreading love and joy to as many people as possible – even total strangers. 

But why bother? Well, the benefits of showing kindness in such an altruistic way are many. Indeed, being kind is not just beneficial to the person on the receiving end of the good deed. In fact, showing kindness lead to scientifically-proven positive feelings for the giver and receiver. 


22 ideas for random acts of kindness

Indeed, it's known that the power of kindness is truly potent. Furthermore, happiness is contagious, creating a ripple effect. So if you make one person happy, they are more likely to pay it forward. Being this in mind, this Random Acts of Kindness Day – and every day come to think of it – why not try one of these 22 ideas and help to brighten yours and someone else's day!

1. Compliment a stranger

All humans seek connection, but in our society it’s not easy to strike up a conversation with a total stranger without them doubting your intentions, even if you're just being nice. However, if you spot a someone in the street with a beautiful smile, face or gorgeous jacket – or anything else that grabbed your interest – why not let them know? They’re sure to be flattered by your compliment and you might even lead to a deeper conversation or friendship.


2. Give up your seat on the bus or metro

Traveling to or from work on public transport is rarely pleasant, especially if you're stuck on your feet for the journey, (or worse still, with someone's armpit in your face). So, on your next bus or metro ride, if you’re lucky enough to have a seat, why not pass it to a stranger who looks like they need it more than you?The happiness you get from this random act of kindness will make standing up just that little bit more bearable! 


3. Gift a book to someone

Do you have a favourite memoir, work of fiction, or self-help book that’s inspired you? Or, perhaps as a member you have some mindfulness books or books on meditation that have helped you in the past? Well, if so, instead of letting a great book gather dust on your shelf at home, pass those powerful pages onto someone you think could benefit from the words inside. Also, suggest to them that once they’ve finished the book, they pass it on, too, keeping the kindness flowing. 

Words work: gift a book as a random kindness act shutterstock/Dymtro Zinkevych


4. Call a family member or friend

In our increasingly busy world, it seems there’s never quite enough time to keep up with all of our loved-ones. However, Random Acts of Kindness day provides the perfect opportunity to make that time. Call or Skype a family member of friend you’ve been meaning to get in touch with for ages. And don't forget to tell them that you love them: those three words will always brighten someone's day. 

RELATED: Why is family important for happiness?


5. Share your favorite song on social media

Research suggests that listening to the music we love helps us to be kinder, creative and more helpful. In that case, share your favorite track on social media and maybe you can help spread some joy or even introduce your friends to some new sounds they will fall in love with. 


6. Pick up litter

Sadly, some people think it's OK jus to drop their trash on the floor. It's not. I hate seeing trash in the street, or – worse still – out in nature. Trash is a blight on the neighborhood, a real eyesore, and a danger to some animals. So, if you spot some rubbish on the floor, just take a few seconds to pick it up and put it in the nearest bin (followed by applying a bit of hand sanitizer!). This small, selfless act of goodwill makes you feel better and help improve the environment for everyone that follows after you. For a deeper effect, join a litter-picking session at your nearest park or beach: this activity benefits the community as a whole and also provides you with a chance to meet new people. That's a real win-win. 

RELATED: Why is volunteering important?


random-acts-of-goodwill.jpgShow goodwill by joining on a litter collect shutterstock/Dragon Images


7. Leave food for a homeless person

Giving money to the homeless isn’t always such an easy decision. Sometimes we wonder if how they spend that money will benefit them in the long-run or not. Indeed, sometimes we even question if the person begging is really homeless at all. As an alternative to giving money, leave some fruit, nuts, or a sandwich – something nutritious. Or, leave some warm clothing, a clean blanket or hygiene supplies. That person will hopefully be full of gratitude for your act of goodwill. 


8. Better still, talk with a homeless person

Imagine having thousands of people walk past you daily, deliberately avoiding your gaze or even looking at you with contempt or disgust. This is what homeless people go through every day. And, without the right safety nets, any one of us reading this could end up in this position, especially in these difficult and challenging times. So, take a few minutes to chat with homeless people about their lives. Ask them their name. Ask how they are feeling. Share stories. It will certainly make them feel that little bit more human. 

RELATED: Radical empathy


9. Leave a sticky note for someone

A quick, easy and fun random act of kindness idea is to write an uplifting message on a sticky note and leave it randomly on your travels for someone to discover. You could place it within a book, newspaper or on any public space. You could also try writing out mindfulness quotes or suicide prevention quotes on sticky notes, offering hope to people that might spot them. There are so many people living with anxiety and depression at the moment that it may just help them. 


“Random acts of kindness lead to scientifically-proven positive feelings, both for the giver and receiver.”

Alternatively, get specific and leave a sticky smile or note for someone you already know: a colleague, housemate, partner or a family member. It's quick, cute and fun.


10. Brighten someone’s day with a plant

Forget flowers (gorgeous, but they die too fast!). Plants can be cheap and very cheerful. Indeed, plants are natural pick-me-ups, and, because they need care to survive, they encourage the nurturing side of humans. Buy one for a friend or work colleague, or even give it anonymously and leave it on someone's doorstep to increase the mystery of this random act of kindness! Or, why not be kind to yourself and treat yourself to a beautiful plant: go on, you deserve it!

Bloomin' marvellous: be kind and give a plant


11. Donate to charity

As spring approaches, it’s a great chance to have a big clear-out of your closet. So, spend a few hours rifling through your old clothes and donate a bag of your bits to your preferred charity shop. For the full double deed of kindness, while you’re dropping off your donation, consider buying something as well. Buying from charity shops instead of buying new is also great for the environment.


12. Leave some art for someone

Another cool random act of goodwill idea is to use your creativity to change someone’s day. Leave a poem, mandala, drawing or painting somewhere in the community at let someone randomly discover and (hopefully!) enjoy it. The surprise will be sure to put a grin on their face. 

RELATED: Wired to create – 10 things great artists do differently


13. Cakes for colleagues

Whip up some sweet treats in the oven and bring them into the workplace to share with your colleagues (yes, even those that you don’t always get along with – it's time to show some compassion on Random Acts of Kindness day!). The fact that you’ve made something to share personally will make all the difference, too. Can't cook? Then splurge down the bakery instead as a plan B. The bonus of this kind act is that you will also be able to much on the cakes. 


14. Send a postcard to someone you love

Remember snail mail? Can you recall the joy of seeing a handwritten letter land on your doormat? In this digital age, it happens less and less, so, let's change that. It doesn’t matter if you’re not away on holiday – and let's face it, at the moment that's pretty unlikely – even if you're at home, pop out and buy a nice postcard, a stamp, and spend a couple of minutes penning some loving lines to someone you care about. They're sure to get a buzz when your goodwill wishes land on their mat! 

Postcard it forward: get crafty to be kind


15. Buy local or independently

OK, we've all bought from Amazon to get a cheap deal, and many of us will have gone crazy on it during lockdown. But skip Amazon for the day. Support your nearby community by buying something from a local, independent store – either in person or through its website. Of course, it may be a little more expensive, but your purchase will help support local businesses and their families, rather than one fat cat receiving all the profits.


16. Have a judgement-free day

Many of us tend to judge people instantly. From how they look, what they're wearing, or because of things they've said we don't agree with or decisions made. Make Random Acts of Kindness day 24 hours totally free of judgement: in thoughts, words and actions. Don't let your fears or insecurities affect how you're thinking. Another cool random act of goodwill idea is to use your creativity to change someone’s day. 

“Another cool random act of goodwill is to use your creativity to change someone's day. Leave a poem, mandala, drawing or painting somewhere in the community for people to appreciate.”

17. Connect with those that serve others

When buying or ordering something, we often fail to engage fully with those behind the counter. So, next time you stop for gas, coffee or food, chat with your server. Ask them how their day is going, what time they clock off, or compliment them on. And certainly don't browse the net or chat on your mobile phone while they're serving you: that's just plain rude!


18. Buy energy-efficient lightbulbs 

Have you seen the light? If you haven’t done so already, be kind to yourself and the environment by ensuring all your lightbulbs in your home are energy efficient. While they may seem more expensive, in the long-run, switching to energy efficient lighting is one of the best ways to cut your energy bill. Plus, you don’t have to replace them so often. Simples.


19. Speak with a senior

Research suggests that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. So, if you have elderly neighbours, pop round to chat over a cuppa. Or, if you see a senior in a shop or street and there’s a way to engage with them, do so. Sometimes, the elderly don’t speak to people for days on end and their only contact is through going shopping. Consider inviting an elderly neighbor in for a coffee to chat; you're sure to learn something from them, too.  

Help the aged: connect with your elders shutterstock/halfpoint


20. Pay it forward with a coffee

A tried and tested idea for an act of random kindness, offering to pay for the caffeine fix of someone else in the queue is an inexpensive and easy way of spreading some cheer. It's quick and gets immediate results (mine's a soya cappuccino, thanks!).


21. Be kind on social media

Twitter and Facebook can be full of negativity, bitter trolls and oneupmanship. At the same time, we often get in the habit of breezing through social media posts and articles without actually reading things properly. Change all that by being nice. If you read a social media post or a well-written article that touches you, take a few seconds to leave a positive comment and let the author know. Why not start by telling us what you think of this article below?


22. Our final random act of kindness: share this post! 

Speaking of sharing, your last act of random kindness could be to share this article on social media and help to spread love and happiness as far and wide as possible. Let's all try to make a difference together! ●

Main image: Oksana Mizina/


How many of these random acts of kindness ideas have you tried? How did they go? Has anyone ever surprised you with one of these tips? | The fine art of being: learn, practise, share

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Written by Calvin Holbrook

calvin.holbrook.jpegCalvin edits the happiness magazine, makes collage artwork and loves swimming, yoga, dancing to house/techno, and all things vintage! Find out more.



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So many amazing suggestions here! ? It doesn't have to be time consuming or complicated and you can really help make someone's day brighter!

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