How great is it that our random acts of kindness and good deeds can make someone else’s entire day?
HumanKind: Changing the Wolrd One Small Act At a Time is a heartwarming, national bestseller that shares true stories about how a seemingly small act of kindness can transform thousands of lives. Like the six-year-old who started a global kindness movement and the $45 donation that rippled across continents to change more than 800 families’ lives. (“The most uplifting book in years”—Forbes.) For inspiration, check out the book.
For now, here are 103 random acts of kindness and good deeds, that you can do today to carry out kindness and be an everyday hero:
Random Acts of Kindness
Create a holiday to celebrate someone you love. I have “Mia Appreciation Day” for my wife. Your appreciation day can be as simple as declaring the date of the holiday and writing a note of thanks each year to read out loud on that day.You can also invent your own fun or crazy family holiday.
Put 50–100 paper hearts or smiley faces in a box. On each cutout write something that is special about your lover or a good friend. Give her the box and tell her to pull out a heart or smiley face anytime she gets lonely or wants a pick me up.
Find opportunities to give compliments. It costs nothing, takes no time, and could make someone’s entire day. Don’t just think it. Say it.
Your compliment could be something silly, yet endearing. Here’s a post from Pinterest.
Upon entering the Magic Kingdom, one of the security guards said to Alli ‘Excuse me Princess, can I have your autograph.’ I could see that the book was filled with children’s scribbles as the guard asked the same question of many little Princesses. Alli could not get over the fact that the guard thought she was a real princess.” From Pinterest.
Share overheard compliments.
One easy way to ensure you write a nice note or give at least on compliment a day . . . When you open your inbox for the first time of the day write a short email – 1 paragraph max – praising someone. This note can be as simple as, “Just wanted to say, ‘thanks for being such a great friend.’” Or, “Thinking of you.” Or point out something nice you noticed. 15 seconds can make someone’s entire day. And looking for something to compliment a person on each day will make you more aware of and appreciative of the kindness around you.
Give each member of your family, team, class or group a piece of paper with the name of every group member on the piece of paper. Tell each group member to “write what you appreciated about each fellow group member next to the person’s name” (or you can give out notecards and instruct everyone to “write what you appreciate about each group member on a separate notecard”). The leader collects all of the sheets/cards.
All of the comments are organized so each person gets a page (or the cards) with all of the positive comments about them.
Helen discovered that her students cherished these sheets so much that the students kept them and still talked about them a decade later. The parents of one student told Helen that their son took the paper with him when he was deployed and kept it with him the entire time.
People don’t hear how special they are often enough. This act of kindness exercise is a simple way to appreciate others in a lasting and touching way.
Take five minutes to send cards to sick children who are fighting serious illnesses and want to receive mail.Send mail to Cards for Hospitalized Kids, which delivers the cards to children in US hospitals. A great activity for individuals, families and classrooms.
Through Cardz for Kidz! you can send cards for uplifting the spirits of hospitalized and/or traumatized kids around the globe.
On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, remember any friends who have lost a parent the previous year, and check in with them. Those will be tough days.
Make little gift baskets for the kids in your neighborhood. One of our neighbors made our son an Easter basket (also a Halloween and Christmas basket). It made our son, my wife and me feel great. The cost of each basket was probably $5.
Looking for more ideas about how to spread kindness? These ideas are from my book, HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act At a Time. This National Bestseller and Canadian Book Club Awards Finalist is filled with true stories about how one small deed can make a world of difference and dozens of ways we can all have an impact. “Elegant and wise” (Deepak Chopra). “The most uplifting and life-affirming book in years” (Forbes). Learn more about HumanKind.
“Want me to pick something up for you?” If you know someone is overwhelmed – perhaps by a new baby, family health issues, or something else – give them a call when you’re going out to the store. Ask if they’d like you to pick something up. We’ve been the beneficiaries of this random act of kindness, and it’s great.
When a friend’s family member dies, an incredible gift is to gather stories about the deceased. Get friends and family members to provide stories, anecdotes and photos. Your friend will forever cherish the book you’ll put together. If you can’t make an entire book, just sharing your fond memories is appreciated.
If you’re an Amazon.com customer you can donate Amazon.com’s money to your favorite U.S. nonprofit through Amazon Smile. It takes a total of 20 seconds to read how to do this and set it up. Then Amazon will donate to your favorite nonprofit each time you make a purchase.
When you buy goods from over 1,700 other online retailers you can use iGive to have that retailer donate money to your favorite charity. This includes major retailers like Best Buy, Expedia, Bed Bath and Beyond, and others.
Help a teacher get the supplies needed for class. DonorsChoose.org let’s you support schools and teachers in your community so students can get the tools, supplies and experiences they need for a great education. Here’s an opportunity where a small donation will make a big difference. DonorsChoose.org let’s you support schools and teachers in your community so students can get the tools, supplies and experiences they need for a great education. Here’s an opportunity where a small donation will make a big difference.
Collect soda can tabs to donate to Ronald McDonald House for sick children and their families. The charity gets paid for these.
My mom called me after a winter storm that resulted in a few days of icy roads. Mom suggested I call some of the seniors in my neighborhood to make sure they were ok and didn’t need anything. What a great idea.The thoughtful owner of Fox’s Pizza Den in Ligonier PA went even further. When freezing temperatures made it dangerous for elderly people to go outside, Tom Wynkoop offered that his delivery people would bring medicine, food or other necessities to those who couldn’t get out due to health reasons – no food ordering required.
If you’re a musician living in NYC, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Nashville, Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco, Baltimore, Denver, Phoenix, Dallas, Boston or Miami, you can volunteer through the nonprofit Musicians on Call to deliver a live, in-room performances to patients undergoing treatment or unable to leave their beds. Add a dose of joy to life in a healthcare facility by bringing the healing power of music to people who need it.
Put a surprise note or sketch in with your spouse’s or kid’s lunch.
Help others find the positive.At the beginning of one of my classes, we’d often discuss what was going on in the students’ lives. One student frequently pointed out the positive qualities of her classmates. When Yasmiyn spoke you could see other people glowing. In fact, Yasmiyn’s participation changed the tone of our class.
My students were young adults and often focused on what they saw that was unfair, what others were doing to them and the hardships in their lives. Yasmiyn helped her classmates focus on what was special about them and the positive. Over time, everyone started noticing and pointing out the positive. Our class thrived after taking Yasminy’s lead of looking for the positive.
When it’s summer and hot, give out cold Gatorades to your mail carrier and garbage men. When it’s freezing outside offer hot chocolate to crossing guards, police officers and others.
Cook an extra portion of dinner (or dessert) for someone who needs it. Aid for Friends is a Philadelphia area nonprofit that delivers about 500,000 meals yearly to people in need. It started with one woman’s small acts of kindness. She made an extra meal each night to give to someone who needed it. Read her amazing story.
After a wedding or party donate all of the flowers to a nursing home. If you want to see the impact of these random acts of kindness, personally deliver a flower to each resident. You could also bring the flowers to a hospital and ask the receptionist to distribute them to patients who could use them.
Speaking of flowers — Why not take flowers to the nursing station at a hospital — for the nurses.
Tell someone the truth. Sometimes it’s really hard, but it’s what friends do.
Say “thank you” to someone who made a difference. . . .Send a card to people who dedicate their lives to helping us – soldiers, police officers, fire fighters and teachers to name a few.
A student at Mango Elementary gave the police officer patrolling her school this note after the Sandy Hook tragedy.
Write a letter to a deployed or wounded member of the military through Operation Gratitude or Soldiers’ Angels. Soldiers say that’s the most meaningful part of care packages they receive.
It’s never too late to say “thanks.” I sent a note 7 years after someone had helped me, and she told me it made her feel terrific. I’m glad I got over my embarrassment at how much time had passed and finally sent it.
On the topic of “thank you”, TD Bank’s Thank you video shows them turning ATMs into Automatic Thanking Machines for some personal and special moments for customers. If you decide to watch this random acts of kindness video, have your tissues ready.
Seer Interactive has a display of thank you cards in their office lobby. Any employee or visitor can take a card and a postage stamp. As founder Wil Reynolds said when he was giving my class a tour of his office, “We want everyone to be able to send a thank you note anytime. If your grandma did something for you, your parent or a client or co-worker – pick up a note and send that card.”Putting up a rack of cards, doesn’t create a workplace culture of kindness on its own, `but it’s a great start and a great idea – for your office and home.
Write letters to strangers who need them. More Love Letters has a list of people who could benefit from letters of encouragement. Each person has been added to the web site by a friend or family member. Read the stories and take five minutes to make someone’s day.
Send cards to lonely seniors. 13-year-old Jacob Cramer started Love for the Elderly, which distributes letters to American seniors via senior centers and nonprofit organizations. This page explains how you can send a postal letter. Letters have come in from all over including Cleveland, Asia and Scotland.
Love for the Elderly also has a Senior Buddy program that connects seniors, who often experience loneliness and isolation, with young students. They become pen pals and develop a relationship through letter writing. Please note that only classrooms and senior facilities can sign up for the program at this time.
There are so many ways to make people feel great by sending letters:
Send a crazy letter or postcard to make someone laugh.My nieces love mail so much, that my wife and I try to regularly send them postcards, stickers and anything we find for that matter, and it makes their day.
Send a letter just to “let you know how much I care about you.” How wonderful would it be to get that?
Take a cute photo of someone you love and mail or email it to them.
Think of the amazing people in your life. Take an hour to write those people a letter telling them why they’re awesome.
Even easier and quicker than sending letters is texting. You could text someone just to tell them something you appreciate about him. I received a random text like this from a relative. It made me feel awesome. Or, simply text/email a joke — here’s a hilarious one minute read that had me laughing out loud multiple times
Do you know someone who could use a lift? Add them to the More Love Letters list, so they can get letters of encouragement.
Join the bone marrow registry. Certain types of patients with blood cancers can survive only if doctors find a bone marrow match for a transplant. A friend of ours survived, because he found a match – his kids have their dad because of a bone marrow match. There are moms, dads and kids who can live if they find a match. How it works — you send in a swab from your mouth. Then you’re added to the bone marrow registry. If you’re lucky enough to be a match, you have the option to save a life by donating bone marrow from your blood. You’re usually sore for a day or two afterwards. Get info here.
Keep an extra umbrella at work, so you can lend it out when it rains.
If you’re a business, leverage what you do every day to do good and perform acts of kindness.
Plaza Cleaners in Portland, OR posted the above sign.
Rotation Records in Norristown, PA heard about an 11-year old battling Cancer whose dream is to be a singer. They offered her an opportunity to have a recording session and red carpet party at their studios, which was a huge hit.
Sometimes we shy away from people when we know they’re having a rough time. We assume we should wait for them to approach us, so we’re not intruding. Instead, ask them how they’re doing. If they don’t want to talk, they’ll say they’re “fine.” Many people will be relieved to have someone to talk to. If you don’t ask, they might never mention anything to you. They might not want to burden you with their problems.
Listen. Don’t interrupt. Something I learned from my wife is that people don’t always want us to suggest a solution. They just want us to listen. We underestimate how important and comforting it is to be listened to.
Do something special that you know your significant other will appreciate – like when my wife surprised me with chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. These small acts of kindness matter. For more related to the little things, see How a Frosty Strengthened My Marriage.
When you see something good, share it. Tim, a friend who teaches, said that when his students are doing really well he calls their parents. Tim teaches at an alternative school where parents usually receive calls from the school when their children are in trouble. Tim said he likes to make sure he also calls with good news. How great for the kids and their parents. Keep an eye out for the positive and share it with parents, spouses, friends and so on. These are simple and great random acts of kindness.
Be sure to also share in a work setting. When you get great service tell the person who helped you. Then, tell a manager. Go to the corporate web site and submit an email.
Write a positive online review of a business you like. It makes a difference. Our mason and electrician said that over 50% of their business comes from online reviews.
And, don’t forget to point out those people at your work who do a great job.
Be kind to yourself. Every day write down 3 to 5 things for which you’re grateful. I do this every night with a simple email to myself. By the way, research has shown that this increases happiness 25%.
When people are gossiping about someone, be the person to chime in with something nice.
Say, “Yes” to someone. 15-year-old Jack Thomas Andraka received 199 rejections before a lab finally agreed to allow him to do research there. Jack Andraka wound up developing a cancer test 100 times more sensitive and 26,000 times less expensive than existing tests.
Through Give Back Box you can pack up clothes, household items, games or other items you no longer need, and Give Back Box provides a prepaid shipping label so you can ship the items to Goodwill at no charge. This can be done from any state in the US. (Goodwill is a nonprofit that provides job training and jobs.)
When you’re volunteering keep the little things in mind. Some students from Spark the Wave were volunteering at a coat drive. In addition to giving out the coats, they put kind and encouraging notes inside the pockets. There were also kids who decorated the lids on cans of food they donated to a food pantry. The human touches in these random acts of kindness make a difference.
Our neighbors noticed that we had a lot going on and could use a distraction.So our neighbors put this bag in our mailbox.
A small act of kindness (like a little gift) at the time you need it can make a huge difference. And, our neighbor’s gesture did make a huge difference.
Simple and appreciated!
Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
Everyone is important. Learn the names of your office security guard, the person at the front desk and other people you see every day. Greet them by name. Also say “hello” to strangers and smile. These acts of kindness are so easy, and they almost always make people smile.
In the middle of December, buy gifts for a kid who otherwise wouldn’t be able to receive a gift. This article is an inspiring read about the difference these gifts make. The end of the article has a list of links to places through which you can give gifts to kids who might not otherwise receive presents – Angel Tree Program, Toys for Tots, Operation Letters to Santa and One Simple Wish.
Contribute a small sum of money to grant a wish of a foster youth. One Simple Wish has an online directory of requests that case workers submit for their foster youth. The wishes are often the simple things – money to go to prom, dance lessons, money to pay for being on the school cheerleading squad, to name a few.
Give yourself the gift of feeling good! My book, HumanKind: Changing the World One Small Act At a Time, has true stories about the moment when a small act of kindness changes a life or has a ripple effect changing thousands of lives. The book’s resources section contains dozens of practical kindness ideas. Learn more about the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestsellerHumanKind.
Follow up.My friend Mary received tremendous support when diagnosed with cancer. She said the support tapered down while she went through her lengthy treatment. Mary’s experience changed her perspective. Now, when someone she knows has Cancer, Mary finds reasons to send a note or reach out every few weeks.
I recently heard the same thing from a friend who is going through a divorce. He said it felt like everyone forgot about him a few months later, even though it was still tough.
I felt bad hearing these statements, because I haven’t been thoughtful enough about long-term follow-up. But now I’ll do better. Let’s remember to reach out months after a trauma (disease, divorce, death, etc.). My friends said that even an occasional friendly note makes a big difference, and even if the person sending it wasn’t a close friend.
Get an email address for your kids and send them memories, achievements, awards, etc. Give them the address at 18.
Check in with someone. Recently an acquaintance emailed to see how I was doing. She said she hadn’t seen a blog post in a while and wanted to say “hi.” Although it was simply business that kept me from posting, her outreach was touching.
Pay for someone’s dinner…
Photo of note given to England family (Photo source: Ashley England)
I read about a family out to dinner with a special needs child. The kid was acting up and the waitress brought over a note that said “God only gives special children to special people” from a mystery guest who paid for the family’s meal.
The child is non-verbal and has had 3 major brain surgeries for epilepsy.
The boy’s mom, Ashley England, told WBTV, “To have someone do that small act towards us shows that some people absolutely understand what we are going through and how hard it is to face the public sometimes,” she said. “They made me cry, blessed me more than they know – I felt like out of all the rude negative comments that we are faced with – this outweighs them. The people who care!”
Loan money to a third world entrepreneur through Kiva. These tiny investments change the lives of the families who receive them, and 99% of the loans are paid back.
Offer a ride. Many veterans don’t have transportation to and from their medical appointments at VA Hospitals. You can volunteer as a van driver for Disabled American Veterans.
Support our troops by supporting families who have a member deployed. The families are often forgotten. Thank them for their sacrifices. Offer to help them around the house. Babysit. Let them know you recognize their sacrifice and ask how you can help.If you’d like to help, Operation Homefront supports families of veterans with financial and emotional needs.
Soldiers’ Angels provide support to military families through three services: Comforting the loved ones left behind when a soldier dies in battle, providing handmade gifts and virtual baby showers, and holiday adoption program to support a family’s holiday needs. Volunteer with Soldiers’ Angels.
On Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day, go to your local memorial or event and pass out mini flags or flowers to Veterans.Thank you veterans – For more ideas to thank our veterans and random acts of kindness for veterans, here’s a list of 22 ways to support our troops.
When a friend makes a meal that you love, ask for the recipe.
Teach someone. We can all teach something, and sometimes the small things make the biggest difference. Olympic gold medalist, professional baseball player and bestselling author Jim Abbott recalls his third grade teacher showing him how to tie his shoes as one of the biggest inspirations of Jim’s life.
Post positive notes.
At the center where I teach, someone posted positive notes in unexpected places – like the one above, which was at the water cooler. Everyone loved the signs and it led to a barrage of thank you emails to the entire school, just so people could thank the anonymous sign hanger.
Invite someone to dinner – especially at the holidays, when it is difficult for some people to be alone.
If you’re upset, take a deep breath and count to 10 (or perhaps 15) before you say anything. Ask yourself if what you’re going to say will be helpful. Pausing will reduce the likelihood you’ll say something you’d regret. Remind yourself that a positive mindset is a choice you can make. This idea came from Dani DiPirro’s book The Positively Present Guide to Life.
Make a helpful introduction.
Call your parents. Hi Mom and Dad! 🙂
Wendy McDonald paints small rocks and puts an inspirational word on them. If someone needs a boost she hands the rock to them. As Wendy says, “fun for me and rewarding!” A personal touch to cheer someone up and let them know you’re thinking of them. (Wendy, thanks for sharing your random acts of kindness.)
Spend a few minutes on Free Rice, a United Nations Food Program that will donate rice to hungry people for every question you get right on their learning web site. You can learn vocabulary, French, Chemistry and even answer SAT prep questions. This is made possible through corporate sponsors you’ll see on the bottom of the pages. Free Rice has fed millions of people since its 2007 launch.
Plant a tree while you search the web. If you search the web using Ecosia, the search ads generate money for Ecosia. Ecosia uses this income to plant trees in Africa, bringing water, plants and animals back to drought-ridden areas. The revived land means more jobs, healthier livestock and more independent people. A stronger local economy allows both women and men to earn their own income, meaning more children can go to school. Ecosia currently funds planting a tree every 13 seconds. So far they’ve planted over 3 million trees. The search engine is powered by Bing.
Write a love note and hide it in a magazine your partner is reading or somewhere else he/she will find it.
Use the idle time on your computer to cure diseases, study global warming and many other research projects. Your computing power will be donated through BOINC, a project of the University of California supported by the National Science Foundation.
When you want to help someone, ask: “How can I help?” and also suggest specific ways you can help. People are less likely to come up with a way for you to help if you’re too general. For example, if someone just had a baby, you could say, “I’d really like to do something for you. Can I drop off groceries, babysit your older child or cook dinner this week?” If they say “no thanks,” you can ask if there’s something else they’d appreciate.
Use Goodsearch, to search the internet, play games or answer survey questions. The for profit company donates a portion of all advertising revenue to charity (50% of revenue or 1 cent for each search).
Carry around a $5 gift card so you can give it to someone who does something awesome. Or, create and carry “thanks for making my day” cards that you can give to people.
Help make audio books available to anyone who wants them. LibriVox helps you find books in the public domain that you can read out loud, record and make accessible to people who want them.
Random acts of kindness for kids:
Involve your kids in community service. Donna mentioned in the comments below that she takes her son to pass out food to people who need it.
I read about a teacher who got her first graders involved in random acts of kindness by having her class collectively perform 100 acts of kindness over a 2-week period. The class recorded each act on a small heart and organized the hearts into a collage. Perhaps this is a way to get your kids excited about acts of kindness as well and introduce your kids to the great feeling from doing good.
During the holidays my cousin takes her children to a store to pick out and buy a gift for a child who might not get many gifts. This year, instead of getting 8 gifts for Hanukkah, her kids got 7 and the 8th gift was one they picked out for someone else. Toys for Tots is a great recipient of these acts of kindness.
You could also participate together in many of the other ideas listed earlier in this post. If you’re interested, here’s a link to Random Acts of Kindness for Kids–24 ideas for raising grateful and kind kids.
Seek out an opportunity to help every day. Hold open a door, offer assistance, help someone trying to get a stroller down the steps or take any random acts of kindness. Every small interaction with someone is an opportunity to have a positive impact on both of your lives.
When you look, you’ll find opportunities to perform random acts of kindness. When you take those opportunities to perform acts of kindness, you’ll feel great.
Please add your thoughts or additional random acts of kindness ideas below.
If you enjoyed this content, please check out HumanKind. It’s a heartwarming book of true stories about when a small act of kindness transforms a life or has a ripple effect changing thousands of lives. (And all proceeds go to nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters.)
Also, if you enjoyed this post about random acts of kindness, you’ll enjoy one of the most popular articles on my blog, which is about scientifically proven ways to increase your happiness.
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