Amid the “busyness” that just naturally seems to come with the approach of the holidays, it easy to forget that others may feel fractured, separate from others and alone in the world. As we focus on our own lives it is easy to walk right past people without connecting with them or giving them a single thought. But once we start becoming more aware and paying attention, we find that opportunities to make the world a little brighter are everywhere. We can make our own world a little brighter as well—by giving the gift of kindness to someone else we are giving that same gift to ourselves.
Once you begin to engage in random acts of kindness, more and more opportunities will present themselves, all of which can help take you out of yourself and make you feel better about whatever else is going on in your life. If you are having difficulty thinking of ways to do something for others, here are a few suggestions:
Use your money to be kind.
- Leave an extra large tip for a harried server at a busy restaurant.
- Put money in a parking meter that has expired.
- Pay for the order of the car behind you in the drive through.
- Pay a bridge toll for the car behind you.
- Buy a homeless person a sandwich or a cup of hot coffee.
- Give someone a present for no reason. Better yet, send it anonymously.
- Offer coins to someone who doesn’t have change for a beverage or snack machine.
Do something for someone who needs assistance.
- Help a neighbor take out the trash.
- Hold the door open for someone else, particularly anyone whose hands are full.
- Shovel an elderly person’s sidewalk after a snow.
- Help someone change a flat tire.
- Offer to carry something heavy.
- Take a hot meal to someone who is sick or injured.
- Let someone cut in front of you in a line, especially when he or she is in a rush.
- Give your seat to another person.
- Offer a ride to a neighbor.
Leave a “kindness” trail behind you
- Leave your morning paper on the bus with a note that says “Help yourself.”
- Leave a paperback book in a public waiting area with a note that says “To help the time pass more quickly.”
- Bring cookies or cupcakes to the office unexpectedly and leave them in the break room.
- Leave a note on a public restroom mirror that says “You are a beautiful person!”
- Smile at every person you meet, even if they frown back or look at you funny.
- Say “thank you” to everyone who serves you in a store, office or restaurant.
No matter how insignificant you think such actions might be, when added up, small kindnesses make the world a brighter place for a lot of people including ourselves. And we can do this all year—we don’t have to confine ourselves to the holiday season.