26 Random Acts of Kindness to Try Today

A simple act of kindness can improve anyone's day. Kuzma/Shutterstock

When the world is spinning around with nothing but troubling news, why not indulge in some random acts of kindness? Acts of kindness can run the gamut from simple to involved, but regardless of the effort, they have a similar effect. Science shows that kindness is contagious, "when we see someone else help another person it gives us a good feeling, which in turn causes us to go out and do something altruistic ourselves," one study found.

The ways in which we can be kind are infinite, but here are some basic, quick ideas to jumpstart the kindness revolution.

1. Pay a thoughtful compliment to a stranger.

2. Write a letter to a hospitalized veteran.

3. Pop a coin in an expired parking meter.

4. Help someone with a baby stroller get up the stairs where there isn't an elevator.

5. Pay for a stranger’s coffee.

Man donates blood at blood drive
Donating blood is an excellent way to help all kinds of people. SparkFun Electronics [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr

6. Donate blood.

7. Donate to a stranger’s medical expenses fundraiser.

8. Write a letter to management extolling an employee’s good service.

9. Give your scarf to someone who looks cold.

10. Pay for someone’s groceries.

11. Let a parent with a cranky child go before you in line.

12. Offer your seat to someone standing on public transportation.

Writing a note
A quick thank-you note can make someone feel appreciated. Dragon Images/Shutterstock

13. Write a thank-you note to someone who taught you something.

14. Pay a stranger’s dinner tab and leave a note if you see behavior you admire, like this man did.

15. Order a hot meal to-go after dinner out and give it to someone who looks hungry or a neighbor in need.

16. Give lottery tickets to strangers.

17. Give your umbrella to someone who doesn’t have one and is looking miserable; if you need to stay dry too, share it instead.

18. Bake cookies for the firefighters at your local firehouse.

19. Post fliers for something that someone lost and you found.

20. Leave a copy of your favorite book, CD or DVD in a public place with a "free, hope you enjoy it" note.

Shoes you're tired of can have a second life if you donate them
Shoes you're tired of can have a second life if you donate them. zukerka/Shutterstock

21. Give your shoes to a shoeless person.

22. Rake a neighbor’s lawn while they’re out; shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk before they wake up.

23. Introduce yourself to a stranger who you often cross paths with.

24. Tape coins to a gumball machine.

25. Praise someone for a thankless job well done.

26. And don’t forget the basics: Help people who’ve dropped things, hold doors and elevators open for people, and help slow walkers cross the street.