“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~Dalai Lama
Acts of kindness makes us feel good, valuable and alive. Think about the last time you went out of your way to be kind to someone. Didn’t it make your day too? So many opportunities exist to extend kindness to others and many people do as part of their good nature. But if we made a more conscious effort to be an even kinder, better person, by practicing kindness on a daily basis, our lives become more extraordinary simply because we’ve made a difference in another’s life. And this difference can have a lasting, ripple effect that we may never see but is, without a doubt, changing the world.
Choosing to practice random acts of kindness while expecting nothing in return except the good feelings that these acts provide, is life-giving. To help you, below are 100 ways to “pay it forward” as the term has been coined. Some are simple and some might take coming out of your comfort zone. But at the end of your life, what better way to be remembered than that of a “kind” person.
1. Pay for the person behind you at the drive thru, whether it be a coffee or a whole meal. Make sure to stay anonymous and relay a friendly message to the person like “Have a nice day!” or “Spread kindness and pay it forward”.
2. Leave a gift for someone in a random public place such as on a park bench, at a bus stop, the library, a coffee house, or restaurant. Laura Miller started kindness missions by leaving a single hydrangea flower on the windshield of a car in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. That single act has now blossomed into an international phenomenon of anonymous acts of kindness, with over 1,500 “Affiliated Agents” sharing in the fun and selflessness all over the world. Check out her website Secret Agent L.
3. Praise someone at work for a job well done when the occasion arises. Best to do this in front of other coworkers or his or her boss.
4. Offer to tutor a younger person in reading. You can find a local literacy volunteer organization through a Google search on “Literacy Volunteers Your State.”
5. Send someone who you know is going through a difficult time a card, flowers, cookies or some thoughtful expression that lets them know that you care and are thinking of them.
6. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, helping serve a meal or with any organization that you feel passionate about. VolunteerMatch is a great website where you can find many organizations in need of help and searchable by zip code, state and keywords.
7. Next time someone is rude or inconsiderate to you, instead of getting defensive, express your compassion for their situation. They may be having a bad day or need to hear a kind word. This doesn’t mean to be a doormat but to just consider what someone may be going through and giving them a pass.
8. Organize a clothing or food drive with your neighbors for a local shelter. Your taking initiative to collect and distribute items will not only make it easy for them to give, but will also inspire them.
9. If you see an elderly person struggle to reach something in the grocery store or in any other activity, lend them a helping hand.
10. Send a heartfelt letter of gratitude to a teacher or someone who has made a difference in your life. Share with them how their kindness, support or a gesture has affected you and how grateful you are to know or have known them. You can be sure that you will make their day and even move them deeply.
11. Buy a dozen donuts or bagels for a sports team at a local school, a firehouse or police station.
12. Thank a service person such as your postman, military, a police officer or fireman for their hard work and dedication to serving others. You can simply say thank you or even create a special surprise for them. Check out Mukhtar’s birthday surprise, a bus driver who thought his birthday would be another ordinary work day.
13. Talk to the person at the party who is struggling with socializing with other people. You never know what incredible, life-changing conversation you may have with them.
14. Buy 10 lottery tickets and give them out to people on the street, wishing them good luck.
15. Take a child or group of children that you know on a special trip somewhere such as a zoo, the circus, a museum, or the local playground.
16. Cheer up a loved one by giving them an unexpected gift. You don’t need to spend a lot, remember it’s the thought that counts.
17. Hide notes of encouragement in your spouse’s or child’s lunch box or in their coat pocket, shoes or other place where they will receive this little surprise.
18. Start a campaign to help an individual or a group. Take for example, Maisie Devore who decided that the children in her community of Eskridge, Kansas should have a swimming pool for hot summer days. She redeemed aluminum cans at the local recycling center for cash to raise the money for the pool, sparking a crusade that went on for 30 years until she met her goal!
19. Call someone who you haven’t talked to in awhile and let them know that you’ve been thinking of them and that you are sorry you’ve been out of touch.
20. Enroll your children in going through their toys and donating the ones that they don’t want. This teaches children to be of service at a young age. Bring them with you to the place where you will make the donation so they can see the appreciation of the organization.
21. Offer to babysit a friend or neighbor’s child so that they can have a well-deserved night out.
22. Plant a tree or flowers in a neglected area in your neighborhood. A modern day Johnny Appleseed who sees the world in plants has been transforming his neighborhood one tree at a time.
23. Help a family in financial need by cooking them a meal, bringing them groceries, giving them clothing, or even money. Do it in a way that makes them feel good about your gift.
24. Sincerely compliment someone every day, whether it be their physical appearance, their character, or what they’ve accomplished in spite of difficulties.
25. Let someone into traffic who looks like they are in a rush. Remember though to be very cautious especially if either of your vision is impaired.
26. Shop for someone who is homebound or ill, especially in bad weather.
27. Talk to people you encounter every day like at your coffee shop or on your commute, even if it’s for a minute. Show an interest in their lives.
28. Spend the day giving out free hugs to people in the mall or on a busy street. See Juan Mann’s story of how he did this and the various reactions of those receiving the hugs.
29. At dinner every night this week, talk about kindness with your family. Ask questions like, “What kind act did you do today?” and “What kind act did someone do for you?”
30. The next time you have exceptional service at a restaurant make sure to tell the waitperson’s manager what a fine job they did, either in person or in writing.
31. Donate your used books and/or magazines to a local library.
32. Let a debt go that someone owes you whether it be monetary or something else which has them feel indebted to you. Only ask that they “pay it forward” in the future when there comes an opportunity to help someone else.
33. Give up your seat on the train or bus to an elderly or pregnant person, or someone who looks tired.
34. Create a craft that can be brought into a local children’s hospital. Some ideas include knitted items, quilts and beaded necklaces. See one woman’s story about how she uses beads as meaningful symbols of courage (Beads of Courage) to commemorate milestones that sick children achieve in their treatment.
35. Give up complaining for 21 days and, as a result, become more positive, hopeful and optimistic as the website A Complaint Free World says. Not complaining is kind because your positivity will help others to do the same.
36. Greet people with a smile and an enthusiastic hello. You can do this in person as well as over the phone. People will appreciate your warm reception of them and feel welcomed.
37. Send someone an e-card for a special occasion or to let them know that you are thinking about them. A great website for e-cards is www.gratefulness.org.
38. Grow your hair long and donate your ponytail to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs out of real hair to give to children who have lost their hair during cancer treatments.
39. Listen to people with interest, concern and compassion, giving them your full attention. Hugh Elliot said it in a nutshell, “All people want is someone to listen.”
40. Treat a friend to a nice dinner and movie for no special occasion, just to celebrate a friendship.
41. Write a referral for someone who you know is looking for a job without them asking.
42. Leave a newspaper, magazine or even a book at a coffee house once you’ve read it for the next person. You can add a note that says that you hope they enjoyed it as much as you did.
43. Mentor an at-risk child or teenager by becoming a big brother or sister with the Big Brother Big Sister Foundation and help them achieve their potential.
44. Say good morning or hello to passersby during your day, even if you don’t know them, simply as a friendly gesture.
45. Use less plastic or none at all because its kind to the environment. Consider the “plastic vortex” in the Pacific ocean that could be toxic to marine life.
46. Bring your co-workers a special treat such as donuts, homemade brownies or cookies. This will brighten their day.
47. Adopt a soldier and help a soldier in a variety of ways such as sending note cards, donating items, or hosting an event for a veteran.
48. Be kind to someone you dislike by going out of your way to say hello and how are you. This could be the start of an unexpected friendship.
49. Donate blood to the Red Cross and tell of your experience, encouraging others to do the same.
50. Encourage someone who may be at a low point in life. Whether a parent, sibling, child, coworker, friend, or neighbor, a little support can help motivate them to see things differently.
51. Write a thank you note when someone does something nice for you, letting them know how much you appreciated their generosity. This extra effort leaves lasting goodwill.
52. Forgive someone who has wronged you. This can be difficult and challenging, especially if they abused or attacked you. But by making amends either in person, in writing or in your thoughts can have a transformative effect on your life. See how it changed the path of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s life.
53. Ask for forgiveness. Whether the hurt you caused was intentional or not, commit to asking the person you have hurt for forgiveness. This can be done in person or, a less confrontational way, can be done by writing a letter.
54. Buy an inspirational book for someone who needs some uplifting.
55. Make a child’s wish come true through the Make a Wish Foundation, the nation’s largest wish-granting organization. You can help give hope, strength and joy to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
56. Give a presentation to a classroom of students on your occupation or an area of interest that you are passionate about.
57. If you see a car on the side of the road, pull over and offer assistance such as help with changing a tire or offer your cell phone for their use. Be sure that you are safe and away from traffic.
58. Get together with some members of your community and lead a project that can benefit a nonprofit organization. Perhaps you can collect items or make crafts to donate, organize an outing for the people in need, or have a celebration of some sort with the nonprofit.
59. Start a blog or website that can help people. You can also sell advertising and then donate some of the proceeds to a nonprofit.
60. When you get the urge to make an unkind remark to a loved one, think again. Those words can have a negative impact effecting the person, in some cases, for a lifetime.
62. Loan money to a relative or friend who may be without a job and requires financial assistance. You may not be able to give much but what you give will mean a great deal to a person in need.
63. Leave a $10.00 bill in an open public place for someone to find. You will make their day! But be sure it’s not in a place where it may be turned in by an honest person.
64. Read a book to a child or an elderly person.
65. Visit a senior center and make a presentation on a favorite topic of yours or organize a game or movie night.
66. Be kinder to yourself by embarking on a self-care crusade. This can mean taking better care of your health, getting regular massages, meditating, taking a yoga class, watching your finances by going on a budget, leaving a bad relationship, going after what you want in life, and avoiding negative self-talk. Make it your priority every day to take better care of yourself!
67. When you have finished mowing your lawn, mow your neighbors too! Be sure to ask them first and let them know that you are practicing kindness, and they would help you if they agreed to your offer.
68. This year, pay special attention to your children by reading to them, taking them on day trips, playing with them outside, helping with school projects, and truly listening to what they have to say. These are the things they will remember forever!
69. Enter someone in a competition who you think deserves recognition in some area such as “Business Person of the Year”.
70. Donate your expertise to someone in need. For example, if you are a marketing consultant, offer your services to an entrepreneur who needs help in developing his or her business. If you have a knack for fixing things, lend a hand to a neighbor who may need some handy work done in their home.
71. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels and prepare and deliver meals to homebound seniors in your community.
72. Say “thank you” and “please” as generously as possible.
73. The next time someone shares a goal or a dream they have really encourage them to pursue it, requesting that they take some kind of action within a certain timeframe. Then, if they agreed to a date, make sure to follow-up with them when that date arrives.
74. Always keep your word. This is one of the kindest things you can do, especially when it comes to arriving on time to parties, appointments, and to meet friends or family. Being your word, acting in line with what you say, is a true expression of respect towards others.
75. Think about a loved one or friend who has a need and respond to that need. Whether it be to lending support in their job search, helping them with a project, or just offering your ear whenever they need to talk.
76. Tolerate a loved one’s behavior a little more than usual. This may have them wondering what’s gotten into you, and you can respond that you are practicing compassion to be an even kinder, better person.
77. Wave to someone on a school bus, on a boat, from your window, whenever you see an opportunity.
78. Use less energy by remembering to shutoff lights, carpool to work, turn down the heat, use CFLs instead of regular light bulbs, and other kind measures to protect our environment.
79. Own a snow blower? Cruise around the neighborhood to see if anyone needs snow cleared from their driveway. This can be especially kind to an elderly person who may not be able to shovel snow or even get outside for that matter.
80. Stick up for a person who is being treated wrongly.
81. Research an illness that a friend might have such as cancer. Print out the information you find and mail it to them with a heart-warming note saying that you thought the information might help and hope that they will feel better soon.
82. Give someone recognition on your blog or website who deserves it. You can start a special section for acknowledgements.
83. Comment on a blog where someone is making a special effort to educate or help people. Not often enough do people who do good in the world everyday get acknowledged for their efforts. You can even aim to do this once a week on a new blog.
84. Pick up the clothes from the floor of the department store that others have mistakenly dropped.
85. Let someone, who only has a few items, go ahead of you in the checkout line of the supermarket.
86. Dedicate a star to someone. International Star Registry is a company where you can name a star for someone for any occasion, and they will provide a personalized star kit for that person.
87. Make amends with someone from your past who you treated wrongly. Search the person out if you have lost touch and reach out to them by phone or mail.
88. Be honest. The next time you are tempted to tell a white lie or leave something out that the person has a right to know tell the truth. This is always the kinder thing to do even when it may sting the person initially, in the long run people want to know for the most part.
89. Throw someone a surprise party to acknowledge a birthday, a homecoming or milestone. Plan to have a few people speak about how this person has impacted their life and all that is special about them.
90. Become a foster parent and provide a loving home to a child who truly needs one. You can contact the National Foster Parent Association to get started.
91. Adopt a pet from the humane society near you. You can even search for a pet locally through Adopt-a-Pet.com.
92. Help out the new co-worker by graciously answering questions, going out of your way to show them things, inviting them to lunch, and even becoming a friend.
93. Help your child with small acts of kindness such as giving a small gift to their teacher, serving free lemonade on a hot day or washing cars.
94. Invite someone new for dinner such as a neighbor, co-worker, friend, or family member. Don’t worry if you can’t cook. The gesture is what counts.
95. Write your “Bucket List”, a list of all the things you want to do with your life and include at least one act of radical kindness.
96. Help someone who wants to lose weight by being an exercise buddy. You can offer to go to the gym with that person or be an attentive ear when the person needs help sticking to the goal. This can be offered for anything for that matter, to someone who drinks, smokes or shops too much.
97. Blow up a bunch of balloons and randomly hand them out to children at a beach, park or ball game. Watch their faces light up with surprise and gratitude.
98. Give your spouse or mate a much needed back or foot massage. Ask for nothing in return.
99. Create some inspiring signs and hang them up around town.
100. Finally, resolve to Be Real in life. A truly kind person will be authentic with their words and actions, realizing the negative or positive impact they can have in every encounter.
Here’s to a year of kindness and an extraordinary life! Be sure to write us with the results of your kindness acts! You can even leave us a comment here!