Over the last couple of years, the news has been filled with stories of people paying for the customer behind them at their local coffee shop, or people starting a chain reaction of paying it forward at fast food joints. Some of the chains of kindness have continued through upwards of 400 customers in a row. It is heartwarming and inspiring, for sure, but there are many ways to spread kindness without spending money.
In honor of National Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17), here are a few ideas that won’t cost you a penny and make the world more fun:
Donate items to your local thrift shop or offer it to your neighborhood Buy Nothing group (http://buynothingproject.org/). Don’t forget about all those electronics you have lying around (http://www.epa.gov/recycle/electronics-donation-and-recycling)
Pay someone a compliment. Tell your coworker you were impressed with her presentation. Say you like your friend’s new jacket. The adage goes that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, but if you’ve got good things to say, don’t hold back!
Donate your hair. If you have a ponytail measuring at least 10 inches, consider giving it to one of the many charities helping people who have been less fortunate in the mane department, due to illnesses and health issues. Get a fresh new style and let someone else enjoy your locks.
- Send a message out of the blue. Email an old teacher who meant something to you or contact someone who helped you get to where you are today. Thank them!
Give blood. This is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Check for a donation center near you.
- Put notes of encouragement in random places. Sticky notes on public bathroom mirrors, slips of paper in library books, missives scrawled in a magazine.
Give the gift of time. Whether it’s offering to babysit for a friend or getting involved in a local charity, your time is valuable and there are so many worthy causes. Check us out for fun and rewarding volunteer opportunities in and around Seattle (http://www.theworldisfun.org/events)
- Hold the door open. Let someone in your lane during rush hour. Pass up the nearer parking space. Return your shopping cart. Smile. When you ask, “How are you?” listen—really listen—to the reply. Say please and thank you. Mean it.
Whatever you are able to do—however small and insignificant you think it is—will make a difference to someone. It will even make a difference to you. Doing acts like these isn’t completely altruistic. The thing about spreading kindness is that you actually end up feeling pretty good yourself. So, make your day and someone else’s!
And if that’s not convincing enough, just think about all the good karma. What goes around comes around.
- Caitlin Huson, TWIF Social Media Manager