Daily Acts of Kindness: 40 Ideas for Helping Others
A Daily Act of Kindness
Performing a daily act of kindness is a wonderful way to help others. A kind action not only helps someone else but may also stimulate them to help another person in turn. As a result, a ripple of kindness may develop and spread through a population. The more often a person is kind, the more ripples they will be able to create, either directly or indirectly. The thought of kindness spreading through a population like a virus is awesome.
Social and political problems, natural disasters, and poverty are widespread in today's world. Major undertakings like volunteering to help aid agencies and donating to charities are very important. Some people don’t have the time or the money to participate in these activities, however. Others may feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the problems on this planet. They may think that unless they are helping in a major way their aid is insignificant. This definitely isn’t true. Every little act of kindness can be meaningful for an individual who either needs or would like help.
Some Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness
I follow many of the suggestions for being kind listed below. Some of the suggestions describe ways in which I have been helped myself. A few aren't applicable to my life right now but may be one day.
Acting on just one idea from this list or from a list of your own creation can be very helpful for someone in need. Performing regular acts of kindness can be even more helpful. A kind act can be short and simple or time consuming and more complex, depending on what's possible at the time. Both types of kindness are very worthwhile, especially when performed frequently.
Donate or Supply Items
- If you subscribe to a newspaper or magazine, give an edition of the periodical to someone else to read when you’ve finished with it. Make a collection of reading material that you know interests a friend and give it to them once you’ve read the material.
- Pick up free community newspapers and magazines that might interest someone who has trouble leaving their home and give the items to them.
- Volunteer to get library books, magazines, or DVDs for someone with mobility problems and return the items to the library by the due date.
- If you are a gardener and are thinning your plants out, give the seedlings to someone else.
- If you have a bountiful crop, distribute some of it to your neighbours or work colleagues.
- If you bake items such as muffins or if you prepare canned food, give some to a neighbour or friend.
Help Friends, Relatives, and Neighbours
- If you have friends or relatives that you communicate with only once a year, such as at Christmas time, send them a letter, email them, or phone them at another time of year as well.
- Give a friend or relative an occasional gift on a non-celebration day. This can be either a material item or a gift of service.
- Buy or make a greeting card for a family member or friend even if it's not a special day. Your card could express your love, friendship, or gratitude.
- If a friend or relative has mobility problems, lives nearby, and has a dog, volunteer to take the dog for a walk (perhaps with your own dog).
- Volunteer to mow a friend's lawn if they are unable to do it themselves.
- If a good friend or a relative needs an item to complete a home or garden project and you have the item, consider lending it to them temporarily.
- If you have your own vehicle and a friend or neighbour doesn't, consider doing an occasional job for them that would be difficult or impossible to accomplish by public transport.
Some tact may be needed when performing the last two activities to avoid an equipment loan becoming permanent or a transportation job becoming too demanding or too frequent.
Simple Acts of Kindness
Help Others at Home and School
- If your spouse, partner, housemate, or roommate traditionally does a household job such as making supper, occasionally volunteer to do their job (in addition to your own jobs).
- Make sure that you make time in your schedule to do at least one fun activity with your children each day or to discuss their day with them.
- If your children's school is holding a bake sale for charity, make something that can be sold.
- Contribute to other charity fundraising events at your children's school, such as bottle and penny drives.
- Whenever you declutter your home, think about whether a charity could use the items that you no longer need.
- If there are charity collection bins near your home, such as bins for donated clothing or toys, regularly deposit items that are in good condition but are no longer used. Making a donation on the first day of each month might be a suitable goal. If your children are old enough to understand what a donation is, let them decide whether or not to donate a toy that they don't use.
- If you have an electronic device that works but that you are discarding because you’re buying a new device, give the old device to someone who can’t afford to buy their own.
- If you enjoy knitting or crochet, consider using your hobby to create items for charities.
The Science of Kindness
Help Others While Shopping
- If you buy something at the supermarket that is on sale for a “two for one” price, give the second item to a friend or the food bank.
- Every time you do a major shopping trip to a supermarket, pick up one non-perishable food item to give to the food bank. Deposit this item in the store's food bank container if there is one, or save it at home and visit the local food bank when you have a collection of items.
- When you buy your own groceries, also pick up groceries and other items for a friend or relative who has difficulty leaving their home.
- Make a friendly comment to the store cashier or other staff member, especially if they seem harried or depressed.
- Take other chances to help people in a store, such as by holding a door open, helping someone reach for an item (if you’re tall enough), and depositing change in a charity collection box.
Donate Money While Shopping
- Make a goal to put coins in every charity collection box that you see, even if the amount of money placed in each box is small.
- If a charity is raising funds outside a supermarket or in a shopping centre, consider making a donation as you pass by.
- If children or teens are selling items such as chocolate to raise money for a good cause, buy an item or donate the purchase price if you don't want the item.
- If you are comfortable financially, when a supermarket cashier asks you if you want to make a donation to a specific charity by adding the donation to your grocery bill, consider saying "Yes".
Pay It Forward
Help Others at Work
- Occasionally take a box of doughnuts, home baked goods, or other treats to share with your co-workers on a normal workday (as well as on a celebration day).
- If you leave work to buy lunch or special coffee, ask people staying in the office if they want anything and volunteer to get it.
- Try to say something pleasant or encouraging to every co-worker that you meet each day.
- If you are in a position where you have to supervise other people and need to make a criticism or ask someone to change their behaviour, try to make the criticism constructive.
- If it is appropriate at your place of work, collect donations of items or money for a charity.
- Consider participating in an event that is designed to raise money for charity, such as a walk or a run. Training and participating in the event will be a fun and healthy activity for you, plus you will be able to donate money to a charity by taking part in the event. If you feel awkward about asking individual co-workers to sponsor you, post the sponsor form on a noticeboard and perhaps announce its presence in a staff meeting.
Some More Ideas
- Say hello to a person that you pass on the street or start a conversation with someone on public transit. (These actions may not be suitable for a daily act of kindness, however. Always be aware of your personal safety and of another person's right to privacy if they don't want to participate in a conversation.)
- Assuming you can afford it, pay for your friend's coffee or meal as well as your own when you're visiting a coffee shop or restaurant together.
- Buy two cups of coffee or two treats that you like—one for yourself and one for someone else.
- If you're given money in exchange for depositing cans and bottles in a recycling depot, donate the money to someone else if you don't need it yourself.
Acts of kindness are beneficial for both the recipient and the donor. It often feels good to help others, as many volunteers know. Helping others on a daily basis or a semi-regular basis is a wonderful habit to form.
There are many other ideas for helping others besides the ones listed in this article. You probably have some great ideas yourself, which I'd be very happy to hear about in the Comments section below.
© 2012 Linda Crampton