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16 Easy Random Acts of Kindness to Practice Today

For World Kindness Day and every day, try these simple acts of kindness.

Image by Skeeze, pixabay, CC0
Source: Image by Skeeze, pixabay, CC0

The world can be a harsh place. That’s why even small acts of kindness matter. If you think small courtesies and helpful acts are just “a drop in the bucket,” think again! You can make someone’s day with a compassionate comment or a helpful act. And all those “drops in the bucket” could end up creating an ocean of kindness.

The story of "World Kindness Day" (Nov. 13) is inspiring in itself. According to this article in The Washington Post, the president of Tokyo University started the “Small Kindness Movement” in Japan in 1963 after no one came to his aid when he was mugged. The motto of this movement is: “Let us show whatever kindness we can, so that kindness will be the norm in society.” This wonderful slogan reminds us that not only might we make one person’s day better with gentle kindness, but also that we might create a culture of kindness, step by step.

Just so you know, ample research supports the idea that performing acts of kindness will make you happier, too. When college students were asked to perform five random acts like those below each week for six weeks, they experienced a significant boost in happiness. As the Dalai Lama once said, “If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Sometimes virtue truly is its own reward!

If you are one of those amazing people who volunteers regularly to make people’s lives better or who decides to remedy a particular ill by starting a foundation or a charity, more power to you! But even we ordinary mortals can make the world better in small ways. Here are 16 suggestions you might decide to act on, from the ridiculously easy to the slightly more challenging:

1. Practice courtesy: Holding the door and saying “please” and “thank you” are easy ways to recognize the feelings and situation of another person. Smile.

2. Offer to return a supermarket cart to its rack for a busy parent or a senior. This little gesture is a great time-saver for someone.

3. Put a coin in an expired or expiring meter for a stranger.

4. Write a gratitude letter to someone who has been a positive force in your life. Or just tell someone how much you appreciated something he or she did.

5. Call a relative or friend to see how they're doing.

6. Offer to pick up groceries or medications for someone who is ill.

7. Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger.

8. Write a check to a worthwhile charity.

9. For five minutes, listen to someone without interrupting.

10. Slow down. Research tells us you are more likely to be kind to others when you are not in a hurry. Details here.

11. Give someone you love a hug. Say, "I love you."

12. If you can afford it, contribute a few dollars when someone comes up short in the check-out line.

13. Donate blood.

14. Give a lift to someone who doesn’t have a car.

15. Babysit for a friend or relative who needs some “me time.”

16. In honor of the founder of World Kindness Day, and because it’s the right thing to do, decide you will call 911 if someone needs emergency help. When/if the time comes, do it!

This list is just a start. The ways you can be kind to others are endless, thanks to your own creativity and thoughtfulness. Just be mindful of how you could be of service to someone.

A few sensible guidelines: If someone doesn't want help, back off. Be sensitive to other people's needs for privacy and space. Show respect.

You might decide to deliberately cultivate the habit of kindness as a personal goal. If so, you'll soon become more alert to a broad variety of opportunities for compassion. And If anyone asks how they can repay you, just say what someone said recently to a friend of mine after paying for his groceries when he had forgotten his wallet: “Pass it on.”

© Meg Selig, 2017. All rights reserved.

What are your ideas for "random acts of kindness?" Please share in "Comments."

You might also find this blog helpful: "Seven Studies Show That Virtue Truly Is Its Own Reward."


Boost in happiness. K.M. Sheldon and S. Lyubomirsky, “Achieving Sustainable New Happiness: Prospects, Practices, and Prescriptions,” in A. Linley and S. Joseph (eds.), Positive Psychology in Practice (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, 2004), 135–137.

World Kindness Day, by Allison Klein, Washington Post, 11/3/17.

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