It’s a tough world these days. You don’t even have to turn on the news to know that we could all use a little more kindness in our lives.
I have a friend who, every year for her birthday, spends the week doing random acts of kindness–the same number as the age she’s turning. Not only that, but she asks friends and family to do some too, instead of sending gifts or cards.
It’s a beautiful sentiment, and the perfect opportunity for reminding ourselves how connected we all actually are.
Sometimes, though, your heart is in the right place but you can’t think what to do or how to help. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
Here are 7 ways to leave a little bit of joy in your wake.
1. Help someone feel loved and encouraged: leave a note
Whether it’s writing a letter to your elderly aunt, leaving words of encouragement for tired waitstaff, or even just a sticky note on the windshield of a beleaguered mom’s car, your words can go a long way towards reminding someone that they’re not alone.
According to FactGoods.com:
When you’re plagued with negativity or struggling through one of life’s many challenges, hearing or reading words of encouragement or inspirational quotes can help. In fact, they can change your life.
And it turns out, those encouraging words don’t just help the person they’re intended for. They can actually really boost the person offering them, too.
2. Help the environment: plant a tree
The planet needs all the help it can get. Humans are a little like parasites, taking and taking and taking.
It can feel really good to give back, and to know that you’ve paid it forward in a way that could benefit future generations.
According to Charlie Hall on AgriLife Today:
“Interacting with nature, especially with the presence of water, can increase self-esteem and mood, reduce anger, and improve general psychological well-being with positive effects on emotions or behavior.”
And we can always use more trees in the world!
3. Help a friend practice self-care
Maybe you invite someone to yoga, or you send them some fancy bubble bath. Maybe you simply remind them that it’s okay to take time for themselves.
More and more, people need permission to do what feels selfish, because we forget that we have to fill our own cup before we can help fill others.
As Very Well Mind explains:
[We] are more resilient and more able to handle life’s stress when we are feeling our best both physically and emotionally.
A massage, a hot bath, or another form of pampering revitalizes you inside and out.
It can boost your physical health, recenter your emotional well-being, reduce your stress, and give you the energy and resilience you need to care for others.
4. Help someone in the snow: shovel their drive
Or scrape off their windshield. Or start your spouse’s car to let it get warm. These types of effort, big or small, can really help other people out, and if you’re already taking care of your own, it’s only a little more effort to take care of your friend or neighbor.
Or maybe you don’t ever get snow, and instead you decide to mow your neighbor’s lawn for them. It’s all the same–it’s all taking the time to help someone out.
Sometimes you have no idea how much difference a selfless little act like that can make to someone.
Help someone stay dry: share an umbrella
Little umbrellas you can keep in your car or briefcase aren’t terribly expensive these days. If you can afford to give one away, you don’t even have to be going to the same place. But we can all attest that it’s the worst thing in the world to get caught out in the rain when you’ve got somewhere to be and it matters how you look when you get there.
I did have a friend in college whose favorite thing in the world was to walk in the rain. We’d be huddled under the breezeway as a storm swept through Florida, and she would just mosey to class and revel in being sopping wet. She might have been part flower.
But most of us like to stay dry. So sharing your umbrella can really make someone’s day.
6. Help someone feel at home: welcome a new neighbor
Whether you’re dropping by with a plate of cookies, or perhaps more helpfully offering a list of recommendations for local services like plumbers and handymen, welcoming someone to the neighborhood can go a long way to building community.
It’s good to know your neighbors, and the movers have enough going on without having to figure out who to introduce themselves to.
I’m for sure as guilty of not doing this as anyone, and apparently it’s becoming less of a trend.
But as Psychology Today points out:
Meanwhile, friendships, especially those with neighbors, predicted lower levels of loneliness and worry, feelings of “usefulness,” and self-perceived respect within the community.
Just remember that if you wait too long, it can get weird. So start today!
7. Help people stay entertained and informed: leave your reading material behind
Whether you have the chance to leave your finished newspaper on the bus or your finished paperback in an airport, it can be a nice gesture to others who might be stuck and bored.
According to Business Insider reading can benefit us in many different ways:
A study showed that depressed patients in the mental health ward showed positive improvement when they were read stories aloud.
They reported feeling better and more positive about things.
So share the love, and share the reading material. Just try not to litter!
Those are a lot of good ways to help make the world a little brighter. Will you try any this week? Let us know in the comments.