When a friend of mine turned 40, she wanted to celebrate by doing 40 random acts of kindness. So, a group of us pitched in some money, rented a limo, and set off to spend the day doing nice things for others. I am blessed to have a lot of loving and generous people in my life who set an example of being kind in their everyday lives. While some do it because they believe in karma and trust that the good that they put out into the world will eventually come back to them, others do so because they want their imprint on life to be a positive one. Whatever your reasons for showing kindness to others, here is a list of suggestions to help you do it.
There are literally thousands of charities out there. Donating items to organizations that help others is a great way to contribute to society (and declutter your home in the process).
- Domestic Abuse Shelters are often in need of a variety of items to help outfit women and children and to provide basic necessities.
- Thrift Stores are typically run by charities that use proceeds to help those in need. Donate unneeded clothing and items to help them raise money.
- Food Pantries are run by many churches. They are always in need of non-perishable food items. Stock up when items are on sale and donate the extras.
- Goodwill has a program to refurbish and recycle electronics. Instead of pitching your old VCR, donate it to Goodwill.
- Habitat For Humanity has several ReStore locations that accept donations of furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances. They resell the items to the public and use the proceeds to build homes for those in need.
- Animal Shelters and the SPCA are always in need of pet food and pet supplies. Also, many pet stores partner with animal charities and schedule special donation events.
- You can donate almost anything (shoes, eyeglasses, prom dresses, hair!). Check out this list of charities and what items they collect (sorted by category) from Miss Minimalist.
When we celebrated my friend’s birthday, our favorite activities were those that involved surprising a stranger with a gift.
- Pay for the car behind you when you are in the drive-thru or at a toll stop.
- Pay for someone else’s meal in a restaurant.
- Leave an overly generous tip for your waiter or waitress (e.g. 100% of the bill).
- Purchase a whole stack of reusable bags and have the checkout clerk give one to each customer after you.
- Leave a gift on a friend or neighbor’s doorstep.
- Deliver snacks or meals to your local fire department (or another public service group).
- Bring cold bottles of water to a construction or landscaping crew.
Give Your Time
You don’t have to spend money to help others. Just a few minutes of your time can make a world of difference to those who need it.
- Visit a nursing home. Many residents don’t get visitors and love the company.
- Offer to babysit for a friend so she can run errands without the baby for just one day.
- Write a letter to a military member stationed overseas.
- Pick up litter in your neighborhood, a local park, or along the road.
- Mow an elderly or disabled neighbor’s yard or shovel their driveway in the winter.
- Let someone go ahead of you in line.
- Write or e-mail someone who has inspired you or who you admire and brighten their day.
Practice Kindness Daily
You don’t have to go out of your way or open up your wallet to make the world a better place. In fact, it’s the habits you develop (and model for your children) that have the biggest impact on brightening the lives of those around you.
- Say “Bless You” when someone sneezes.
- Hold the door for others.
- Smile at strangers when you make eye contact.
- Let other cars merge in ahead of you when driving.
- Give compliments.
- Express your gratitude and appreciation.
- Give the benefit of the doubt to others.