The world would be a much better place if the simplest acts of kindness were not so rare; if everyone would find more ways to spread positivity and joy—and who doesn’t need more of that in their life with the world in its current state?
The list I created below is just some examples of the most basic form of human decency that so many forget to do.
Many of the things I mention are instinctive to children—their hearts are pure, and they emit joy to the world without even having to try. I think if we all tapped into our inner child before the world jaded our lenses before we saw anything other than the good in people, we could develop new habits that would only have a positive trickle effect.
1. Pay a compliment.
I have dedicated an entire blog post to this, entitled “The Power of a Compliment” because I feel this simple act of kindness is so life-changing. If you see something you like, speak it. Whether it be the grocery store attendant’s hair, the elderly man’s jacket, the child’s smile, your friend’s laugh—trust me, these things stick.
I cannot believe how many people do not do this. I do not make eye contact with anyone without smiling, unless it is with someone rude, for example, someone who just gave me the finger in their car —then naturally, I give it back. You can take the girl out of Scarborough…
Anyway, I can promise you that 99 percent of people will smile back and walk away with that smile remaining on their face. Such a simple gesture to brighten someone’s mood.
3. Pay it forward.
Have you ever been in the drive-through and had the person in front of you—a complete stranger—pay for your order? This is such a selfless good deed. It doesn’t need to be outside of your budget; you can tell the person at the cash that you just want to buy the coffee for the person behind you. It will have a snowball effect, and it can really brighten someone’s day.
4. Flash your lights.
I have a few cop friends who may not appreciate what I am about to say, but nothing restores my faith in humanity than when a car passing by flashes its lights to warn me of an officer up ahead. I am not a speeder, although sometimes I may be going slightly over the limit and may have just been spared a ticket. I am not advocating speeding; I am advocating compassion.
5. A follow-up thank you.
I am big on this one. Of course, it is always important to thank someone in the moment, but I almost always follow up with an additional thank you message. For example, picking my kids up from a playdate; of course, you thank the parent as you leave, but I will also send a text message later thanking them again.
Another example is if you are given a gift, you naturally thank the person in the moment, but it means a lot to take it a step farther with an additional message of thanks. Similarly, if someone hosts a dinner, it doesn’t hurt to show you truly appreciated the work they put in with a follow-up message of acknowledgment and appreciation. I know it always means a lot to me.
6. Help an elderly person.
I returned the grocery cart for an elderly woman the other day. I had just returned my own cart, and when I got back to my car, I saw her finish loading her trunk. It was freezing and windy, and the cart trolly was not overly close. Instinctively, I asked if I could return it for her, and she looked like she was going to cry. This made me so sad; please—let’s do more for our elders. I did not assume she wanted my help as to not offend her, but I offered and she was so moved that she told me she wishes more people were like me. It made me realize that we all need to pay closer attention and try to help our elders anywhere we can. One day that will be us.
7. Tell your partner you appreciate them.
This is so simple, yet so many forget to do it. I know that when my husband tells me that he appreciates everything I do, it means so much to me. It validates me and gives me the encouragement to keep going, and I know it does the same for him. I will randomly send him a text message at work thanking him for all he does for his family and his response is always extremely heartfelt. It is often just what the other person needed to hear.
8. Check-in on a friend.
A simple text (or phone call if you do not have an aversion to the phone like myself) to check in on a friend or family member can mean so much, especially if you know they are struggling this year. We all like to know when someone is thinking of us, and I think we could all do this a little more. With social media, it is so easy to forget to send someone a private message because we see them on there and think that it counts as interacting. It is not the same as a “like” or a comment on a photo, and since leaving socials, I realize how thoughtful it is when someone sends me a random message.
9. Door drop-off.
My close friend is notorious for this, and I do not just mean on birthdays. If I had a rough night when my kids were little, or when they were sick, or I just had a particularly bad day, I have more than on one occasion opened my door to a coffee drop-off. This takes more time and effort than my other suggestions; however, it is so incredibly thoughtful and always greatly appreciated by the recipient.
10. Wear your damn mask.
I will never understand the thought process of the anti-masker. We wear a seat-belt, we wear a helmet, we wear life-jackets—we can wear a damn mask. It is such a basic form of human decency proven to save lives. Nothing else needs to be said.
I hope you took a little inspiration away from this read—at the risk of sounding too cheesy, I believe that together we can make the world a happier place one small act of kindness at a time.