Remember the phrase “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” that you learned growing up? It’s the impetus behind my personal practice of doing random acts of kindness. These acts should be spontaneous and helpful and bring joy to others. Sure, being a kind person makes me feel good, and doing something as simple as buying a coffee for someone behind me in line at Starbucks can brighten my mood for the day. But more importantly, it brightens the mood of the person I’m treating. In striving to be more generous toward others, I think small, concrete actions are a good place to start. Here are just a few random acts of kindness that can absolutely make someone’s day.
Sending greeting cards to the elderly.
As a whole, the senior population is prone to loneliness because many seniors live alone. I’m close to quite a few of the senior citizens who attend my church, and something I like to do throughout the year is deliver greeting cards to them. Christmas cards come with small gifts, and Halloween cards are mailed out in early October. This year, I brought them Valentine’s Day cards with something sweet.
Baking cookies for my building’s maintenance crew.
My apartment is located in an older building, so our maintenance crew is often overworked. Whenever one of our appliances breaks, or we request any sort of upgrade, I try and bake some cookies for the workers who come to make repairs. Most have families to support with a job that is sometimes not only tough but annoying, especially when cranky tenants channel their frustration toward the maintenance people. I hope that by baking a warm batch of cookies for my apartment’s crew, I can make them feel appreciated and remind myself that it’s important to be patient and understanding.
Sending flowers to neighbors going through a tough time.
A few weeks ago, on my way back from walking my dog, I ran into my neighbors. I knew they had a sick dog, and when I saw them getting out of their car with just a leash, I feared the worst. Sure enough, they had just come from putting their dog down. I immediately felt compelled to send the couple flowers, hoping they could take some comfort from them. While I didn’t think about it then, sending those flowers really moved me—I began to appreciate my own adventures with my own dog, like his obsession with Starbucks puppuccinos and all of his Instagram followers!
Sending gift cards to loved ones.
In 2016, to celebrate World Kindness Day on November 13, I sent $5 Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards to immediate family and friends. We’re so ingrained to give gifts at specific times of the year—Christmas, birthdays, graduation. It was nice to do something different for a change and give a gift just because. It made me appreciate my family and friends even more. I truly felt grateful and blessed.
Buying a coffee or food for a homeless person.
Living in Washington, D.C., I confront homelessness every day. On my way to teach piano lessons every Monday, I walk by a group of homeless men selling a local newspaper that benefits the homeless community. They are out there day in, day out, rain or shine. It’s eye-opening to think that a cup of coffee or a sandwich could be all that a person has to eat or drink all day. In an effort to reach out to the homeless, start a conversation and ask if you could buy them a sandwich, cup of coffee, or some fruit. If you feel comfortable, invite them to breakfast or lunch and get to know them. Leave them with a smile on their faces to remind them that they matter.