Here my plan for weekly (or more frequent) acts of kindness I want to put into practice over the coming months. The goal is to make these into a habit. Because helping others apparently makes us happier too and creates a feeling of happiness that lasts longer than any quick fix like a treat or a purchase. Acts of kindness create a positive feedback loop. So what’s not to like about little acts of kindness?
It doesn’t matter if it is your colleagues, friends, or sports team: Surprise people with something unexpected. Nothing complicated, for example take the time to bake a cake and bring it to your next session. It will put a smile on everybody’s face and in return on yours also. And it will lift the mood.
Laughter is a powerful weapon – use it. Cheer up somebody in your surroundings who maybe tired, stressed, or sad looking with something funny. Not a cute animal video on social media but in real life: Retell a funny incident, make fun of yourself – something for yourself and the other(s) to laugh about loudly. It will immediately create a bond and relax a tense situation. Laughter is medicine.
Check in on your neighbours
Take a few minutes to check in on an elderly or lonely neighbour, especially in the winter, to ensure they are ok. Maybe offer to do a shopping run for them or just take the time to have a cup of tea with them and listen.
Help a homeless person
Homelessness dehumanizes people. Of course there are a lot of different ways in which we can become involved to help. Something simple to do is to provide them with some food. A sandwich and a cup of coffee can make a difference. Show them you empathize and that you value them as a fellow human being.
Try communal planting/ Guerrilla gardening
Be it an allotment or another communal space – do something for others by surprising strangers with some flowers. Non-fussy plants like bulbs, daffodils for example. Why not plant out some bulbs in a public park, traffic roundabout or around trees on your street? It will put a smile on people’s faces – and even better, will make you happy while you plant and anticipate the happiness of others. Check out my previous post: Here.
Help out a stranger
Spot your opportunity: Help somebody carry their shopping bag if you see them struggle, pay somebody a compliment or say something nice if someone is looking particularly tired, take the time to kick that soccer ball that has rolled away from the kids in the park. Every day offers hundreds of little such opportunities – let’s use them.
Pass something you cherish on to a stranger
Leave a book you love on a bench in the park, subway, train station. Even if we don’t know who will pick it up and if they will actually read it, the idea of the book being discovered and enjoyed by somebody else will make us happy.
Connect with people from the past
Rummage through old address directories or email directories and catch up with an old friend. In the real world, not just online.
Clean up your neighbourhood
Whether you set up a clean-up initiative with neighbours or just go about it yourself with friends or family, why not set aside a few hours one afternoon or evening and clean up any litter on your street or in your estate? Just an hour or two armed with gloves and a large bin bag picking up rubbish will get you some exercise, fresh air and a feeling of achievement when your neighbourhood looks cleaner. Who knows you may speak to/meet neighbours you haven’t met before too.
Take part in a community fundraiser
It doesn’t matter if you are involved for personal reasons or not, just get involved. Be it a run in aid of a specific cause, wearing something silly for a day to raise awareness – it doesn’t matter, just become part of the community for a day or a few hours, feel better and help others.
…be attentive, listen – small things do make a difference.