One of my little pet projects has been to do an act of kindness every day. I started 9 November 2016 and I've continued on for nearly 1,000 days now. Sometimes I worry what people who know me might think. Maybe they'll think I'm a really cold, bitchy person so how dare I? Maybe they think I'm being disingenuous. But those fears only exist to keep me from continuing the project, and I don't want them to win. I'll be the first to admit that I can be very cold, I can be a total bitch. But there is nothing wrong with bringing more kindness and love into the world. We all need it. Even me.
Last year, I compiled a list of 25 Acts of Kindness and 5 Acts of Kindness for the Digital Age. Today, I've got 25 MORE ways that you can give kindness in your own life with gestures of all sizes. Kindness is kindness and it doesn't matter how big it is, you never know the effect you may have on someone's life. And I've learned over the last two and a half years that you never know what effect you may have on your own life. It feels really good to be kind and loving to people and sometimes it snaps me out of my foul mood or my funk and makes me realise that life isn't so bad, really.
GET COFFEE FOR A COWORKER
In the States, my experience was more like pick up something from Starbucks for your coworker. In the UK, it’s more like make your coworker a cup of tea in the office kitchen. Regardless of what coffee (or tea) culture is where you work, think about your coworkers next time you want a cuppa.
SWITCH TO BIODEGRADABLE OR REUSABLE PRODUCTS
Don’t forget about kindness to the planet! Mother Nature probably appreciates a good act of kindness most of all. You can make simple swaps in your everyday products, like investing in a reusable coffee cup (which often get you a discount at the coffee shop these days), reusable straws, utensils to keep in your car and/or at your desk, etc. It’s also easy to switch from plastic to something more sustainable and eco-friendly like bamboo for items like your tooth brush, cotton swabs, cleaning brushes, etc.
COMPLIMENT SOMEONE ON THEIR CHARACTER TRAITS
Our society seems to put so much value in someone’s looks. Especially when you operate in a digital world where beautiful people thrive, it’s nice to take a moment to consider what about a person you admire. Tell someone you think they’re courageous or creative or loyal or trustworthy or compassionate or humble or forgiving or authentic or generous. The list goes on and on!
TACKLE YOUR PARTNER’S TO DO LIST
At our house, we’ve divided up regular household chores. We actually did it before we even moved in together. We know that Luke is going to take out the trash and recycling. We know that I’m going to do the laundry. We agreed that the person who doesn’t cook will do the dishes. We don’t have to check some score card to see who has done those things the most or the most recently. If your partner or roommate has regular chores that they do every day, every week, or every month, why not do a few of them while their out to take something off their plate and probably make their day.
SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH SOMEONE WITHOUT SCREENS
Times are a’changing, my friend and it’s becoming more and more difficult to function without all of our screens. I am 100% guilty of looking at my phone in the middle of a conversation or on a date with my husband. But what would it look like to leave your phone in your pocket or your bag? What would it look like to not even bring your phone when you meet up with a friend for coffee? If you think you need your phone to pay, what about cash? If you think you need your phone for GPS, what about Map Quest? (Wait. Does that even exist anymore? Ha!) If you think you need your phone to know when they’ll arrive, think about what people used to do before cell phones! And consider that you probably don’t need to take a photo of everything you do to share with your followers. (I’ve been there, I get it!)
CATCH UP WITH AN OLD FRIEND
I would betcha that a name just popped into your head. Someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Maybe someone from a different season of your life. What are they up to these days? Reach out on social media or give them a call if you have their number. Arrange a time to meet up for coffee and not just in the “let’s be honest, we both know that’s never gonna happen” kind of way.
PROMOTE SOMEONE’S PROJECT
We all know people who are all about that entrepreneur life. They’re always posting about their #sidehustle and how they’re a total #girlboss. If you really believe in someone and the vision they have for whatever their project—or larger career—is, promote it! Share their work on your own social media, encourage your followers to give them a follow too, let them know that you believe in them and support them. Even if you’re not in a position to help them out by buying what they’re selling or it’s simply not your thing—maybe even especially if that’s the case—you can still support them by expanding their audience. I also think it’s important to reserve that kind of promotion for people you really believe in. People can tell when you’re being disingenuous, even on social media.
FEED THE METER FOR A STRANGER
If you grab a handful of coins to put into the meter when you’re parking, what if you stuck them in someone else’s meter if they’re running low instead of walking them back to your car?
MAKE DINNER FOR SOMEONE IN NEED
Maybe you know of a family who is really struggling to make ends meet and have a good, healthy dinner on the table every night. Maybe you know a couple who just had a baby. Maybe you know someone who is working exhaustive hours at the office. Take them a meal they can stick in their freezer and pull out when they need it. You should probably ask first, if only to get dietary restrictions and preferences, but it will probably save them a lot of trouble one evening.
DONATE USED CLOTHES
Instead of trying to sell gently used items, you could give them to a friend or sibling you know would love them. You could take them to a charity shop for them to be able to resell. It not only gives people the opportunity to expand their own wardrobe and possibly help a good cause, but it gives the garment a new life instead of ending up in a landfill somewhere.
GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOURS
A few years ago, my church had a whole series on neighbours. They sent us all home with a magnet to put on our fridge that had eight places to write down neighbours’ names. I think it’s still on my mom’s fridge to this day! We say hello to our neighbours on one side and even exchange Christmas cards, but we don’t ever really see the students who live on the other side. You don’t have to do much, but it doesn’t hurt to be friendly. Though, if I’m being honest, I dream of living on a street where everyone knows each other and has block parties and such.
TAKE A PHOTO FOR TOURISTS
This is one of my go-to’s and I 100% blame my time at Disney. If I see people taking a selfie, I almost always offer to take a photo for them. It often ends with them reciprocating for me, but even when it doesn’t, isn’t it nice to have some photos of you (and your partner or family) that’s not a selfie?
REGIFT A GIFT CARD YOU WON’T USE
I did this one time and I loved the reaction that I got from the woman I gave it to. Before I moved, I had one or two gift cards that I wouldn’t use since I didn’t want more stuff to have to move across the ocean. One of them was for a home goods store, so I drove over there one day and offered it to the first person I saw in the store. She almost didn’t believe it was happening at first, but she happily took it. I knew I wasn’t going to use it, so it was better than it going to waste.
PARTICIPATE IN A CHARITY DRIVE
You know, like a backpack drive or a food drive or a clothing drive. You can probably find an organisation taking things like backpacks around the end of the summer or turkeys around Thanksgiving or jackets at the start of winter. Check in with local charity organisations or even churches to see what’s happening and how you can help out.
DONATE YOUR HAIR
Locks of Love is probably the most famous organisation that accepts hair donations, but there are others as well. Look into their qualifications for donations before you decided to grow your hair out and/or make a big chop. They usually have a few guidelines, but note that coloured or permed hair might not disqualify you.
VOLUNTEER AT AN ANIMAL SHELTER
Animal shelters often need a lot of help and they’re a really fun place to volunteer. Like walking dogs! I used to volunteer at the local Humane Society working with cats—cleaning their cages and giving them some socialisation. I’ve also been a kitten foster mom since 2009, first through the Humane Society and now through a charity here in Birmingham. Both places gave me everything I needed, so it was no cost for me. I was able to volunteer without even leaving my house. Plus…kittens!
Like donating blood, donating plasma is really important. It’s probably the lesser known of the two, but you might get paid for it depending on where you go.
LEAVE A NOTE FOR A STRANGER TO FIND
One of my favourite Instagram accounts is Love Everywhere. You can purchase encouragement cards to write on and leave around your city or while you travel. My friend Gennean introduced me to the account and has been leaving them all over Europe as she travels. I love this idea!
LEAVE UNUSED COUPONS NEXT TO THE ITEM AT THE STORE
I love this idea! We get coupons from our grocery store that are connected to our rewards card, but you could also cut out coupons from the newspaper and leave them around the store for someone else to take advantage of the savings if you can’t.
SEND COLOURING BOOKS OR STUFFED ANIMALS TO A CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
You should probably call first to see what they need/can accept, but imagine the joy you could bring those children who are in the hospital. Not to mention the likely financial strain on the family. Little things like that can make a huge difference.
LEARN THE NAMES OF THE PEOPLE YOU SEE EVERY DAY
If you come into contact with the same people in your daily routine, take the time to learn their names. If you feel like it’s too late to ask their name, it’s not. Just say something like “You know, I see you every day and I am so sorry but I don’t remember your name.” People like the office security guard, the front desk staff at your gym, the barista at your favourite coffee shop, etc.
GIVE SOMEONE AN “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY” LETTER OR GIFT
Hear me out. You could write an encouraging letter or put together a little box with someone’s favourite things—or both. Seal the envelope or box and write on the outside “open in case of emergency”. Tell them when they’re having a bad day or feeling sad to open up your letter or gift for a little pick me up. Hopefully they’ll respect the instructions and you could really turn someone’s day around without even knowing it in the future.
PRAISE YOUR COWORKER IN A MEETING
When appropriate, give you coworker who you see working really hard some recognition in front of the team. Especially if that hard work is going unnoticed by the rest of the team or the boss. You may not want to go on for too long, for risk of embarrassing them, but just let it be known that they’re doing good work and helping out the team a lot.
GIVE GIFTS OUTSIDE OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON
You know how the holidays roll around and suddenly you have to buy gifts for everyone you’ve ever met? If you’re the type of person who feels guilty because you don’t leave a little something for the delivery man who brings all your packages from Amazon or have a little gift to send to school for your kids’ teachers, think about them outside of the holidays when finances aren’t so tight. If you love to shop online and it’s the same delivery man every time, give them a Starbucks gift card or something small to let them know they’re appreciated in what’s probably a mostly thankless job.
LET SOMEONE KNOW THEY MADE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE
Most of us have people who come to mind when we think about who and what shaped us. It’s quite possible that we’ve fallen out of touch with those people, even if we might feel somewhat connected through social media. If there’s someone from your past—a teacher, a mentor, a youth group leader, a family friend, etc.—who helped turn you on the path you’re currently on, tell them. Send them an email or even a letter and let them know the impact they had on your life.
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