40 random acts of kindness to brighten the day
The world offers times of extraordinary humanity and the world offer times when our species feels like a lost cause. Regardless of whether or not things are feeling positive or dark, however, it's prudent to never lose sight of compassion – in itself kindness can be an act of protest. For the bigger picture we can (and should) do what we can to fight injustice. But on a smaller scale, in the day-to-day, practicing kindness can help knit a web of compassion to give humanity a boost of resilience.
Some of the suggestions here are more acts of common manners and civility than random kindness; regardless, no gesture of thoughtfulness is too little in times of discord or discontent.
1. Say hello to five strangers every day (if you are already a natural hello-sayer, double the number).
2. Pay a compliment to a stranger.
3. If you see a hazard on the sidewalk, like a broken bottle or the proverbial banana peel, pick it up and throw it away.
4. Pay a compliment to a friend or family member.
5. Actively look for someone beyond the obvious candidates to give your bus or subway seat to – maybe just someone who looks tired or fatigued by the crowd.
6. Pay it forward at the coffee shop by buying the person behind you a coffee.
7. Walk dogs at the shelter; play foster parent for a pet in need.
8. Pick up litter, put it in the trash.
9. Donate blood.
10. If you have long hair, donate it when you get it cut.
11. Make a tiny free library.
12. Plant flower seeds or bulbs in a vacant lot.
13. If you see something dangerous on the road, move it if circumstances allow or call the police and let them know.
14. Hold the door for someone.
15. Share your umbrella.
16. If you see someone sad or in distress, ask if you can help.
17. Share your talents with the residents of a senior center.
18. Instead of feeling road rage, give the driver the benefit of the doubt – maybe they have an emergency on their hands.
19. Honor the proper way to merge.
20. Laugh at someone’s bad joke.
21. Become an organ donor.
22. Write a letter to someone you admire.
23. Write a thank you note to someone who helped you.
24. Write a letter to someone you've lost touch with.
25. Liberate an unspoken apology you've been harboring.
26. Help someone less-than-stable to cross the street.
27. Put coins in an almost-expired parking meter.
28. Let someone go in front of you in line.
29. Learn how to support someone who is being harassed.
30. Say thank you to someone with a thankless job.
31. Invite a lonely neighbor over for coffee or a meal.
32. Tell a manager when you've had good service.
33. Offer to run an errand for some who can't.
34. Interrupt gossipers with a compliment about the gossipee.
35. Thank your children's teachers.
36. Shovel your neighbor’s snow.
37. Call a grandparent.
38. Bring cookies to the office.
39. Offer to mediate between estranged friends or family members.
40. Instead of a complaint, write a complimentary comment on an online article you like. (Not self-serving at all, nope.)
This is just a sampling and I know some of these suggestions may reek of an idealized world where unicorns frolic with puppies, but I have seen firsthand the contagious effect that compassion can have ... and these days we can use all the kindness we can get. Leave more ideas in the comments, thank you kindly!