“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good
put together that overwhelm the world.” ~Desmond Tutu
Acts of kindness make 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 brighten your day too? Many people extend kindness as part of their good nature, but what if we made a more conscious effort to be kinder? We would spread positive feelings that can create a ripple effect of goodness, undoubtedly bettering the world.
Engaging in random acts of kindness while expecting nothing in return is life-giving, benefiting both the receiver and the doer. Below are 100 acts of kindness and ways to “pay it forward” as the term has been coined. Some are simple and small while others might take you out of your comfort zone. Whichever act(s) you choose, know that you’ll be making a difference by imprinting kindness on the world. And 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 you pay for a coffee or a whole meal, stay anonymous and relay a friendly message to them through the drive-thru server. The message could be “Have a nice day!”, “Spread kindness,” or “Pay it forward”.
2. Leave a gift for someone in a public place like on a park bench, at a bus stop, the library, a coffee house, or a restaurant. You can even stick around and secretly catch them finding the gift to see their reaction. Be sure to add a note that says something like, “If you’re the first person to find this, it’s yours.”
3. Praise someone at work for a job well done when the occasion arises. It’s best to do this in front of coworkers, or his or her boss and only if it’s sincere.
4. Tutor a young person in reading. You can find a local literacy volunteer organization through a Google search on “Literacy Volunteers (add your state).”
5. Send someone you know who is going through a difficult time a card, flowers, or another thoughtful expression, letting 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 various organizations in need of help. You can search by zip code, state, and keywords.
7. Be compassionate of people’s potential situations next time they are rude or inconsiderate to you, instead of getting defensive. They might be having a bad day and need to hear a kind word. This doesn’t mean to be a doormat, but to consider what people may be going through.
8. Organize a clothing or food drive with your neighbors. Take the initiative to collect and distribute items from your neighbors for a local shelter. You can have them drop off items at your house on a particular day.
9. Lend an elderly person a hand, if you see them struggle to reach something in the grocery store or while doing another activity.
10. Express your gratitude to a teacher or someone who has made a difference in your life. With a letter or in person, share with them how their kindness has affected you. Let them know how grateful you are for what they did for you or said to you. You can be sure that you will make their day and possibly move them deeply.
11. Buy a dozen donuts or bagels for a sports team at a local school, firefighters, or police officers.
12. Thank a service person such as your postman, military, police officer, or fireman for their dedication to serving others. You can simply say thank you or create a special surprise for them. Check out Mukhtar’s birthday surprise, a bus driver who thought his birthday would be just another ordinary workday.
13. Talk to the people at a party who are struggling with socializing. You never know what incredible, life-changing conversation you may have 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 you know on a special trip somewhere such as the 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; it’s the thought that counts.
17. Hide notes of encouragement in your spouse’s or child’s lunch box, in a coat pocket, shoes, or another place where they will find this thoughtful 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 needed a swimming pool for hot summer days. Over the course of 30 years, she tirelessly redeemed aluminum cans at the local recycling center for cash until she, along with the help of others, met her goal!
19. Call someone who you haven’t talked to in a while and let them know that you’ve been thinking about them and that you are sorry you’ve been out of touch.
20. Enroll your children in donating the toys they don’t want. This teaches children to be of service at a young age. Bring them with you to the place where you’ll be making the donation so they can experience the good feelings that giving brings.
21. Offer to babysit a friend or neighbor’s child so that they can have a well-deserved and needed 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 receiving your gift.
24. Sincerely compliment someone, whether it be on their physical appearance, their character, or what they’ve accomplished in spite of life’s difficulties.
25. Let someone into traffic who looks like they are in a rush. Small acts of kindness like this give people faith in humanity.
26. Check in on elderly neighbors to see if you can shop for them or run an errand, especially if they are homebound or ill.
27. Talk to people you encounter every day at your coffee shop or on your commute, even if it’s just to say hello and ask them how their day is going. This small exchange helps make people feel seen and valued.
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, talk about kindness with your children. Ask questions like, “Did you do anything kind for someone today?” and “Did anyone do something kind for you?” These questions are just to get the conversation started about kindness.
30. The next time you have exceptional service at a restaurant 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 (if appropriate) whether it’s monetary or something else which has them feel indebted to you. Only ask that they “pay it forward” in the future when an opportunity arises 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 for 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 during 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. An excellent 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. Active listening is one of the biggest acts of kindness we can do for someone.
40. Treat a friend to a nice dinner and movie for no special occasion, just to celebrate the friendship.
41. Write a referral for someone who you know is looking for a job without them asking. You can write a letter or a note on LinkedIn.
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 saying you hope they enjoy 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. This simple, friendly gesture can make your day as well as theirs.
45. Use less plastic because it’s kind to the environment. Consider the “plastic vortex” in the North Pacific Ocean that can 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 in a variety of ways such as sending them a notecard or gift package, or hosting an event for a veteran.
48. Be kind to someone you dislike by going out of your way to say hello. This could be the start of an unexpected friendship.
49. Donate blood to the Red Cross and tell of your positive 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, but making amends either in person, in writing, or in your thoughts can have a transformative effect on your life. See how forgiveness changed 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, in a less confrontational way, by writing a letter.
54. Buy an inspirational book for someone who needs some uplifting and deliver in person or mail it with an encouraging note.
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 about something that you are passionate about. Your enthusiasm for the subject will engage them, while you enjoy the experience too.
57. Write a list of all the things you like about your partner and then give it to him or her.
58. Get together with members of your community and lead a project that benefits a nonprofit organization. Perhaps you can collect items or make crafts to donate, or organize an outing for the people in need.
60. Think again when you are about to make an unkind remark to a loved one. Your words can negatively impact them and, in some cases, even for a lifetime.
62. Loan money to a relative or friend who may be without a job and in need of financial assistance. You may not be able to give much but what you give will mean a lot to someone struggling financially.
63. Leave a $1.00 or $5.00 bill in an open public place for someone to find. You will make their day!
64. Read a book to a child.
65. Visit a senior center and make a presentation on a skill you have, or organize a game or movie night for the seniors.
66. Be kinder to yourself by embarking on a self-care crusade. Aim to take better care of your health by getting regular massages, meditating, taking a yoga class, watching your finances, leaving a bad relationship, going after what you want in life, and avoiding negative self-talk. Make yourself a priority!
67. When you have finished shoveling your driveway, shovel your neighbors too. This can be especially needed if the neighbor is physically incapable or elderly.
68. Pay special attention to your children by reading to them, taking them on day trips, playing with them outside, helping them with school projects, and truly listening to what they have to say. They will remember forever the quality time you spent with them!
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 growing their business. If you have a knack for fixing things, lend a hand to a neighbor who may need some handy work done around their house.
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 and as often as possible.
73. Encourage a person to fulfill a goal or a dream they have by requesting they take some kind of action within a certain timeframe. Then, if they agreed to a date to take that action, be 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 meeting friends or family. Being your word shows true respect towards others.
75. Think about a loved one or friend who has a need and respond to that need. Whether it be to lend support in their job search, helping them with a project, or just offering an 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. You can respond that you are practicing acts of kindness and are striving to be a 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 shut off lights, carpool to work, turn down the heat, use CFLs instead of regular light bulbs, and other kind measures to care for our precious environment.
79. Participate in a 5K walk or run to help a cause. Ask friends and family to join you.
80. Stick up for a person who has been treated wrongly.
81. Do some internet or library research for a family member or friend on a topic of interest to them. Print out the information you find and mail it to them with a note saying that you thought they might like this.
82. Leave an Amazon review for a book you read which you thoroughly enjoyed.
83. Comment on a blog or website where someone is making a special effort to educate or help people. Not often enough do people get acknowledged for their efforts in bettering the world.
84. Pick up the clothes from the floor of the department store that others have mistakenly dropped.
85. Let someone go ahead of you in the supermarket checkout line who only has a few items.
86. Dedicate a star to someone. The 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. Call your Mom and Dad. So often we get busy and may take the people closest to us for granted as if they’ll always be there. Make an effort to stay in touch with your parents regularly, if you don’t already.
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 and deserve to know.
89. Throw someone a surprise party to acknowledge a birthday, 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. Check out different dog breeds on DoggieDesigner to find a dog that best suits your lifestyle.
92. Help out the new co-worker by graciously answering questions, going out of your way to show them things, and inviting them to lunch.
93. Help your child engage in small acts of kindness such as giving a gift to their teacher and talking nicely to their siblings.
94. Invite someone to dinner at your house. The person could be someone you’d like to get to know better, a neighbor, or a new co-worker. 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 in your life, and include at least one big act of 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 their weight loss goal.
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!
98. Give your spouse or mate a much-needed back or foot massage. Ask for nothing in return.
99. Tell someone you love them.
100. Resolve to be authentic in life. Truly kind people are those who are authentic with their words and actions, realizing the negative or positive impact they can have in every encounter.
Here’s to kindness and to the extraordinary life this virtue creates! Be sure to write us with the results of your acts of kindness! You can even leave us a comment here!