Small Kindnesses: It’s Free, Takes Little Time & There’s a Payoff

On Wednesday, it was World Kindness Day so we thought it would be apropos to write a blog about it. Extending a small kindness doesn’t cost a penny, take much time and, in fact, offers a huge payoff. It can elevate your mood. “Hey,” you think to yourself, “I did something nice for someone else and I feel pretty good about it.” Often, it simply means smiling, offering a compliment and performing a simple gesture. 

We hear so much about divisiveness and hate today, about this group against that group. “Mostly we don’t want to harm each other,” said Danusha Lameris in a poem titled, “Small Kindnesses” published in the New York Times Magazine on Sept. 22, 2019. So, let’s make a conscious effort to show compassion and concern for others rather than contempt. It’s not that difficult and takes much less energy than being hateful. A bonus: you can serve as a good role model for your kids.

Our goal with this blog is to plant the seed of a kindness movement, see if it takes root and improves your everyday outlook. Here are 21 simple small acts of kindness that we try to follow: (Feel free to add more in you comments.)

  • Saying “bless you” when someone you don’t know sneezes in a crowd

  • Getting up and offering your seat to a handicapped or elderly person or even a young person with a child in tow or numerous packages
  • Allowing someone who seems in a hurry and only has one or two items to get in line in front of you at the store
  • Seeing a delivery man on a bike who topples, spills several bottles of water on the street, stopping to help pick them up and making sure he’s okay
  • Stopping when someone falls to help them up, ask if they’re OK and even dial 911 if they’re not and wait with them

  • Smiling and asking a clerk behind the counter in a retail store: “How are you doing today?” and also asking, “What is your name?”
  • Watching someone struggling to cross the street and helping with your hand
  • Thanking our partner for handing us a cup of hot coffee in the morning and then returning the favor the next morning or buying a bottle of wine for an evening cocktail party
  • Holding the elevator for someone who is almost at the door or hitting door open if the doors start to close on them

  • Helping someone carrying a heavy package who appears to be struggling
  • Providing a compliment to a stranger, “I love your earrings!” or “You have a great haircut” or “Where did you get those terrific shoes?” or saying to a stranger on the street, “You look so nice.” (Barbara and her beau were the recipients of this compliment recently and boy did it buoy their spirits.)
  • Bringing a cookie to your hair cutter because you know she rarely gets to take a break for lunch
  • Stopping to offer directions when you see someone struggling with a map or staring at a bus stop and wondering which one to take
  • Remembering to call a friend who complained the day before about a toothache or migraine
  • Checking in with a friend who was simply having an awful day due to a bad boss or too much work
  • Introducing yourself to a new neighbor and providing your phone number and email and really meaning you’re available if they have questions or need names of your favorite resources

  • Letting someone in a car into your lane in front of you when everybody else is determined to move ahead
  • Giving a tip to your favorite barista even though it’s not necessary or giving a slightly bigger tip to any service person
  • Offering congratulations when you hear good news; offering sympathy when you hear bad or sad news
  • Taking time to visit someone sick at home or in a hospital

  • Bringing a surprise of cookies, fruit or nuts into an office or a class for no special reason other than everybody will enjoy them.

When you do a small kindness for someone, it almost always becomes contagious. They most likely will pay it forward for someone else, and before you know it, you’ve contributed toward our kindness movement. As both our mothers reminded us ad nauseum, try to treat someone the way you’d like to be treated.


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