February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day — it’s a day set aside for people to be kind to strangers. According to an article published in Psychology Today, when someone does a kind deed it for someone else it makes both people feel good. It’s a great idea in theory, but you have to do it right. Paying for someone’s latte may only push that person to buy someone else a latte and the act of kindness loses its meaning. We’ve come up with a few random acts of kindness you’ll feel good performing — and you don’t need to spend a lot (or any) money.
- Take your neighbor’s garbage to the curb while you’re taking yours. It’s an easy task that no one wants to do — your neighbors will appreciate the gesture.
- Offer to go to the grocery store for an elderly neighbor. Going to the grocery store is just a chore for the young and strong — as an elderly person, it can be a struggle. What takes you 20 minutes could take them an hour. Not only are you doing a difficult chore for that person, you’re also giving them time to do other activities.
- Help a parent struggling with a stroller. Whether it’s single dad or a mom out on her own for the day, taking care of kids alone can be tough. Even the smallest gesture can make a huge difference in that person’s day.
- Help someone who looks lost with directions. The gratitude they’ll feel is immeasurable.
- Be a generous tipper. The service industry isn’t for the faint of heart. Waiting tables is a tough job — it’s physical labor and also requires someone to be sharp. And with all that work, they don’t get health insurance, paid vacation, sick days or bonuses. A big tip could mean a lot more than just getting their bills paid.
- Send a thank-you note to someone who has improved your life. Take a few minutes to write out how much someone means to you — for someone to hear that you’re grateful that you know him or her is priceless.
- Take an hour of your week to spend time with the elderly at a nursing home. Taking time to talk to elderly people could make their day, week or month.
- Leave a kind note for your mail carrier or garbage collector. They’re part of what makes our community run — they deserve a little gratitude.
- Send a care package to soldiers. Whether they’re on a tour or they’ve just returned, a gift from a stranger to thank them for their service isn’t something they get from every American.
- Take a bag of pet food, toys or pet beds to your local animal shelter. Homeless dogs and cats need food and comfort. Every little bit of kindness helps keep them from going hungry. If you have extra time, stop in to give a few pets some love.
Being kind isn’t hard — if someone’s having a bad day or a bad year a kind deed from a stranger may be a small action that has a big impact. Start looking out for ways to be kind every day, not just Random Acts of Kindness Day.