Random acts of kindness are a great way to bring joy to another person’s day. By doing simple things that involve being nice to others, you might just generate a sense of happiness that has a ripple effect across dozens, even hundreds, of other individuals.
Though started in New Zealand in 2005 as a single day, and observed there Sept. 1, Random Acts of Kindness Week has more recently caught on in the U.S. during the second week of February. During that week, you can do your part each year by performing one or more of the following ten acts of kindness for the benefit of strangers.
1. Share the space
The next time a rainy sky is dampening the pleasure of a walk, and you have a decent umbrella, offer a stranger headed in the same direction a little protection from the rain. Hold your umbrella high and ask someone to join you under cover from the raindrops.
2. Return the loot
If you spot someone leaving behind a purse, a wallet, or a cell phone, quickly pick it up and return it to the individual, even if it means you have to chasing him or her down and it’s out of your way. An extreme example of returning the loot was performed by a homeless man as reported by the Daily Mirror in the UK.
3. Let someone in
When you’re driving in traffic, it’s not always easy to change lanes. If someone needs to cross your path, stop and let their car in and you’ll ease frustration levels all around.
4. Pick up the mail
Perhaps an elderly neighbor is having a hard time getting to their mailbox and it’s beginning to overflow. Collect the mail and deliver it to their door; or knock and hand it over, and linger for some conversation.
5. Pay it behind
When you’re buying a movie theater ticket, pay for the admission of the person who’s next in line. This also can be done at toll booths: you can pay for the car that’s behind yours, and give those people a nice surprise.
6. Clear the path
During winter months, many driveways and sidewalks are covered with ice and snow. While clearing your own drive and walkways, clear a path for your neighbor. The same can be applied to warm-weather mowing: Just continue onto the neighbors’ property and take care of their lawn.
7. Hold the door
While heading into a building, hold the door for other patrons to enter first. Similarly, if someone’s loaded down with groceries and having trouble opening a car door, offer to hold the bags.
8. Give up your seat
If you notice that a mom and her kids are separated on a plane or a bus, offer to trade seats so they can be together. Or if someone who gets on the bus is forced to stand, offer the person your seat.
9. Thank your boss
If your boss is one of the good guys, let him know. Bosses don’t usually receive the praise, just the complaints.
10. Talk to everyone
A simple hello can make anyone’s day, but acknowledging a homeless person can give a great ego boost. Or go an extra mile and buy the guy a sandwich.
These are just a few simple act of kindness that can be performed during the week. Get creative and find other ways to surprise strangers with simple acts of being nice.