Daily life presents us with so many opportunities to show random acts of kindness to others. However, for a variety of reasons we often fail to have the awareness to notice the times when we could do so. Whether we are rushing around, staring at our devices, feeling grouchy, or simply not being mindful, we often fail to stop and sense opportunities to show kindness to strangers.
A decreasingly kind society was one of the reasons why the Random Acts of Kindness Day takes place on 17 February each year. It's celebrated by individuals, groups and organizations worldwide, to encourage acts of kindness that 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.
However, we shouldn't just celebrate kindness on a single day. Incorporating altruism and random acts of kindness into your daily routine should be something which you live by. But why?
There are real benefits to showing kindness. Indeed, being kind is not just beneficial to the person on the receiving end of the good deed. In fact, showing kindness leads to scientifically-proven positive feelings for the giver and receiver. Researchers have proven that the power of kindness is potent, releasing happiness hormones that help to reduce stress and anxiety.
Furthermore, a two-decade long study from the University of California, San Diego, showed that happiness is contagious. So, if you show one person a random act of kindness, they are likely to then pay it forward to someone else, creating a ripple effect.
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Bearing this in mind, why not try to incorporate more altruistic acts into your daily routine? Here are 22 ideas for random acts of kindness you can try out that will help brighten someone else's day and make you feel good at the same time...
All humans seek connection, but in today's 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 jacket – or anything else that grabs your interest – point it out them in a polite and friendly manner. They’re sure to be flattered by your compliment and it may even lead to a deeper conversation or friendship.
Travelling 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 stinky 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 will spread from this random act of kindness will make standing up just that little bit more bearable.
Do you have a favourite memoir, work of fiction, or self-help book that’s inspired you? Or, perhaps you have some mindfulness books or books on meditation that have helped you through tricky times? If so, instead of letting a great book gather dust on a shelf at home, pass those powerful pages onto someone you think could benefit from them. Also, suggest to your friend that once they’ve finished the book, they pass it on, too, keeping the kindness ripple effect flowing.
Words work: gift a book as a random act of kindness shutterstock/Dymtro Zinkevych
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.
In our increasingly busy world, it seems there’s never quite enough time to keep up with all of our loved-ones. Most of us know rely on instant messages or texts to communicate with friend and family but we should never underestimate the power of talking and listening to each other in an actual live phone call. So, ring or Skype a family member of friend you’ve been meaning to get in touch with for ages. Just pick up the phone and do it. And don't forget to tell them that you love them: hearing those three words will always brighten someone's day.
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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, for both 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, and will lift them up.
Sadly, some people still think it's OK just to drop their trash on the floor and expect street cleaners to sweep it up. Rubbish is a blight on the neighborhood and a real eyesore, especially when out in nature. So, when you spot some rubbish on the floor, simply pick it up and put it in the nearest bin (followed by applying a spritz of hand sanitizer of course). This small, selfless act of goodwill makes you feel better and help improve the environment for everyone that follows you.
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For a deeper effect, join or set-up a litter-picking group volunteering 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, like-minded folk – that's a real win-win random act of kindness!
Show goodwill by joining a litter-pick session shutterstock/Dragon Images
Lots of us feel misgivings about passing cash to the homeless when they ask for it: we wonder if they use that money for food or shelter or spend it on harmful things. Indeed, sadly, sometimes we now even have to question whether that person begging is really homeless at all. So, 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. A genuine homeless person will hopefully be full of gratitude for your act of goodwill.
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Imagine having thousands of people walk past you daily, deliberately avoiding your gaze or 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 a homeless person about their life. Ask them their name. Ask how they are feeling. Share stories and humanity. This random act of kindness will certainly make them feel that little bit more human.
Receiving a bunch of beautiful flowers is a lovely idea, but they die too fast! Instead, gifting a plant 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. And you don't have to go far to find them – the recent trend for houseplants mean they are easier to find than ever, with lots of exotic varieties on offer in your local supermarket.
“Take a few minutes to chat with a homeless person about their life. Ask them their name. Ask them how they are feeling. Share stories and humanity.”
So, buy a houseplant for a friend or work colleague, or even give one anonymously by leaving 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 pretty plant: go on, you deserve it!
Bloomin' marvellous: be kind and give a plant shutterstock/Beach Creatives
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.
Another cool random act of kindness idea is to use your creativity to change someone’s day. Leave a poem, mandala, drawing or painting somewhere in the community and let someone randomly discover and enjoy it. The surprise will be sure to put a grin on their face.
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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 see eye-to-eye with – showing compassion is good for you). The fact that you’ve personally made something to share will make all the difference, too. Can't cook? Then splurge down the bakery instead as a plan B. The bonus of this random act of kindness is that you will also be able to get to munch on the cakes.
Remember snail mail? Do you recall the joy of seeing a handwritten letter pop through the letterbox and land on your doormat? In this digital age, handwritten letters have almost been wiped out, 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 more and more unlikely – you can still drop someone a handwritten note.
“Another cool random act of kindness 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.”
So, 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
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 – 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.
Many of us tend to judge people instantly. From how they look, what they're wearing, or because of things they've said that we don't agree with or decisions made. Try to live a day free of judgement: in thoughts, words and actions. Don't let your fears or insecurities affect how you're thinking.
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 something. And certainly don't browse the web or chat on your mobile phone while they're serving you: that's just plain rude.
Have you seen the light yet? If you haven’t done so already, show some kindness to yourself and the environment by ensuring all your lightbulbs in your home are energy efficient. While they may seem more expensive, switching to energy efficient lighting is one of the best ways to cut your energy bill in the long-run. Plus, you don’t have to replace them so often.
Research suggests that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. So, if you have some elderly neighbours, pop round to have a 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. Remember: we're all going to get old one day and that you could be you in a similar position in the future.
Help the aged: connect with your elders shutterstock/halfpoint
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 flat white, thanks!).
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?
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/Shutterstock.com
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?
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