Random acts of kindness are harder to come across in this increasingly dog-eat-dog world. Why don’t we make the world a better place through everyday acts of kindness?
Here are 30 good deeds you can do for each day of the month, with little effort and just a little intent. Most of them merely involve being caring, considerate, or making a small difference in someone’s life.
1. Smile at others
Even if you’re in a really sour mood, seeing people smile at you just tends to lighten up your mood, and you realize your problems aren’t that big after all. So, be that person who smiles at others and makes their day. Just don’t go Joker’s dad on yourself for that, though.
2. Pay someone a genuine compliment
It’s easy, it’s simple, and best of all, it’s free. A compliment can really impact someone’s mood for the better. Not to mention, it doesn’t require any prior interaction with the person. It’s really not hard to walk up to a person and say, “Hey, nice shoes.” Want to do even better? Don’t compliment someone on the obvious. Rather than tell a pretty woman with a book that she’s pretty (think she wouldn’t have heard that before?), how about complimenting her for her discerning choice of books? All this takes is some forethought and a little more attention to the situation.
3. Hold the door open for someone
It takes little effort and is guaranteed to elicit a smile or thanks. More than that, it is the polite thing to do. It’s really hard to go wrong doing this little help that no one feels like doing. If someone does it for you, thank them. Warning for men, be careful about the occasional FemiNazi though. They can open their own doors, thank you very much.
4. Complain less
Yes, we all hate our lives. And it’s all pointless and you’re just living a life like a train on tracks. But there’s nothing you can do about it. So, maybe try to reduce the negativity around people by complaining less. No one wants more problems anyway, just solutions.
5. Use kind words
Make it point to put in a word of ‘Thank you’ and ‘Sorry’ and mean it. Making these words a part of your everyday conversation is not too tough a task, and it’ll make you a much more pleasant conversationalist. It’s not going to harm your image if you’re known to be polite and humble, is it?
6. Say nice things about people
Help a person’s image by talking about their better aspects, and it is something that’s bound to come back to you. By the same token, if you’re going to talk ill about somebody, it will ruin your reputation in the eyes of the person you’re “informing”. Do you really want to be known as the one who bitches?
7. Thank a public servant for doing their job well
An expression of gratitude, even as simple as a “Thank you” is sure to be a pleasant surprise to a public servant, who often thinks his/her job is thankless. It is sure to bring a smile to their face, and you don’t lose anything.
8. Give directions
Spend a few minutes on a person who has lost their way, even though your time is also valuable. For all you know, their urgency could be greater than yours, and you know how frustrating and unnerving it is to be lost.
9. Offer water to handymen
Giving water to a thirsty person is considered to be a virtue in our culture. Repairing appliances or fixing up interiors in houses all day is tiring work. Offering such repairmen water and treating them as professionals would go a long way in making them feel better, without any cost to you.
10. Treat restaurant waitstaff and everyday service providers with dignity
It’s really something you can judge people for and not feel guilty about. People who whistle and say, “Oye” are jerks, and make no mistake about it. So, don’t go thinking you’re all cool, by yelling at the waiter. You’re just being obnoxious and high-handed.
PS: Leave a tip not only for the waiters but also the table cleaning staff. Hand it to them directly.
11. Pay for a poor person’s meal at a restaurant, unseen
Few things are more virtuous than feeding someone when they’re hungry, and getting one poor person a good meal is a great way to give something back to society. Maybe you can pay for their meal in advance, as in the Italian charity system of ‘suspended coffee’ or Caffe Sospeso.
12. Be more patient while driving
People don’t realize how dangerous they can be when behind the wheel of a fast vehicle weighing thousands of pounds. What makes it worse is that they can be filled with road rage. Road and rage are two things that should not be mixed, for your safety as well as everyone else’s.
13. Offer your seat on public transport to the weak or infirm
I’m sure a day will come when your legs can no longer support you and you’re cursing those who have multiple kids and add to India’s burgeoning population. That day, you’ll be thankful to the kind soul who offers you his or her seat on the bus or metro. Be that kind soul today and offer your seat to the weak or infirm.
14. Be generous
Offer change to a person who is short of it. Maybe buy a stranger’s bus ticket if they don’t have change and the conductor is yelling at them, or just simply refuse the change from a street vendor who could use a few extra rupees more than you do.
15. Don’t abuse or scream at call center and customer support executives
How would you feel if your computer screamed at you for doing your job just because you have to use it? You’re part of customer service professionals’ job, and it may be no fault of theirs that you’re being contacted. Being mean, abusing them, and threatening them only serves to make their day worse, and the least polite you can be is to state that you’re busy or uninterested and don’t want any unwanted calls.
16. Spend time with relatives
Make time to meet friends and family often. Work does not always come first. Your loved ones will be thrilled to have you with them any time. They will feel loved and appreciated that you take time out to be with them, and they are bound to reciprocate the feeling.
17. Attend to a sick person
Call on a friend who has taken ill, offer to fetch supplies or run errands for them, and wish them a speedy recovery. Just the fact that you cared to check on them will boost their spirits.
18. Turn in lost items to ‘Lost & Found’
Rather than throw them away or leave them be, take the little effort to hand them over to the appropriate “Lost & Found” desk or to places where the owner is likely to look for them, like a security guard’s desk.
19. Make a gift instead of buying it
Whatever it may be, a vase, a pencil case or even a simple card will mean a lot more to someone if you put the gift together with care, instead of just shelling out cash to buy it. It will show that you not only care for them, but also that they’re worth your time.
20. Bring a cake or special treat for your colleagues
An occasional treat like this creates a much-needed break in the boring office routine and gives a chance for people to view their office as something more than just a workplace. If you’re lucky, with time, it becomes tradition among all your colleagues to get something for the rest of the office. It’s little things like these that help to build warm relationships at the workplace.
21. Share your possessions
If you haven’t used something in six months, despite it’s being in good condition, you are probably doing fine without it. Give it away to someone in need. This gesture is not only environmentally conscious, but also practical. Picture someone being able to devote their meager income to a few more square meals instead of otherwise having to buy what you gave them.
22. Donate old textbooks
It’s a socially responsible thing to do. Donate them to libraries or give them to appreciative juniors at school who wouldn’t act snobbish and refuse. You aren’t going to go broke because you didn’t sell those few kilos and make a few hundred bucks. We’ve all felt the pinch when we realized how expensive books can be and felt our wallets lighten considerably.
23. Stop and offer lifts to people who need them
Being stranded when you have somewhere to get to is frustrating. People really appreciate being given a hand especially if the weather is oppressive, and you don’t always have to go out of your way to drop them to exactly their destination. They’ll happily accept however close you can drop them. But use good judgment when picking up hitchhikers and be prepared to deal with any unpleasant surprises.
24. Offer to babysit
Help your neighbor, colleague, or friend get a much-needed break from their hectic life by offering to babysit their children. Adults seldom get any time for themselves once they have kids. So, they would really appreciate an evening off.
25. Sponsor a child’s education
The next time you have disposable income and you think of throwing a huge party, consider more responsible alternatives to blowing it up in one night of craziness that you won’t remember the next morning. Make a difference to a child’s future by paying for his/her education, and contribute as much as you can, without having to go out of your way to help. Contribute to reputable organizations such as Asha for Education, AID India, and Pratham which are doing groundbreaking work in educating underprivileged children.
26. Feed the hungry
You could visit an orphanage or homeless shelter and arrange to feed the inmates there for a day. You could also sponsor the feeding of many people through a local temple or church.
27. Make time for friends who are down
This is a surefire way to brighten someone’s day and maybe even their life if you do it regularly. It will make a huge difference to them, especially if they’re socially awkward, shy of picking up conversation, have low self-esteem, or are just going through a rough patch. The fact that you choose to talk to them is sure to be a welcome boost to their confidence and will encourage them to be more social, which may be the medicine they need at such times.
28. Visit an orphanage or home for the elderly and spend time with them
People think that donating money or materials to these places is the most they can do. But in reality, orphanages and old-age homes probably get enough by way of material contributions. What they really need is not food or clothes, but attention and love. The staff at the facility take care of the residents as part of their job, and there is no guarantee that they feel welcome and appreciated. So, arrange with a nearby facility to pay the residents an occasional visit.
29. Volunteer at an animal shelter
Help out at the local shelter during your free time and encourage others to do the same. It gives you a feeling of satisfaction and gives the overworked and underpaid employees some breathing room. If you’re an animal lover, this is probably the most fun thing to do on our list.
30. Rally your neighbors and organize a street cleanliness drive
What’s the point in complaining about the government’s inefficiency in doing its job when you can’t even keep your own surroundings clean? It’s going to be a hard job organizing people on weekends, when they would want to catch up on sleep and watch bad soap-ops. However, if you can convince a few, the guilt would surely tug at others’ heartstrings. Before you know it, you’d be on your way to getting yourself a clean neighborhood.
Featured image courtesy of BK