Being kind is much more than just being nice. It's selfless, requires empathy, and has far more reaching effects than you may realize. Our busy modern world is riddled with hectic schedules, too many commitments, fast-paced movements, overwhelming circumstances, and impatience. Being so busy makes noticing anything outside of where you're focused difficult, let alone taking the time to notice or consider the needs of others around you. Adding a few random acts of kindness to your schedule requires you to shift your mindset, slow down, and place your community members as a priority. At the same time, you create a brief escape from the fast-paced craze happening around you.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.Galatians 6:10
What Are Random Acts of Kindness
Think back for a moment. Have you ever received a random act of kindness? Think back to when someone helped you out of a tricky situation. Perhaps a friend simply paid you an unexpected compliment. Or a stranger held a door open for you on a day you were stressed. Has someone paid for something for you for unseemingly no reason? Or has someone seen you in need and stepped up to help without expecting repayment.
Sweet surprises like those mentioned above can significantly change your day, week, month, year, or life.
Did you also know such experiences can improve your health and overall well-being? It's true! Random acts of kindness can include a good deed, a caring word, a selfless act, or a small gift. Even simply smiling at others can help to brighten their day.
The benefits of random acts of kindness include: encouraging gratitude, lowering stress, improving moods, reducing pain, building better relationships, and renewing faith in humanity.
Doing something nice for someone can inspire you to remember your blessings and feel grateful, especially when the recipient is less fortunate than you. When you realize you can give in a manner that benefits someone else, you also learn abundance is already present in your life.
Stepping out of your day-to-day life to focus on someone else is another way to shift your perspective and make you feel better. Knowing you helped someone else causes feel-good hormones to release in your brain, increasing your happiness.
Suddenly, your troubles seem a bit less burdensome. Or perhaps you start noticing the problems in your life may actually be blessings in disguise designed to place you in a situation to be a blessing to someone else.
Improves Your Mood
Numerous studies show positive effects on your mood when you engage in random acts of kindness. You're bound to feel better about life when you do good deeds. Conducting random acts of service has been scientifically proven to improve mood, reduce anxiety, and result in higher energy levels through the release of endorphins. Research has shown that the pleasure and reward centers of your brain actually light up when you perform kind acts in a similar way to how they respond in the recipients. It even has a name: “Helper's High.”
You may actually feel physically better when you practice intentionally giving kindness to others. It's been proven that your body releases endorphins in your brain after you do something kind for someone else. Endorphins are hormones produced in your brain and nervous system. They are often referred to as natural painkillers for their pain-reducing abilities.
Kindness Creates Better Relationships
When you do something nice for others, you both create a fond memory, promoting good feelings and increasing quality connections that may lead to more solid relationships.
Remember, it doesn't matter how small the kind gesture is. Doing good always positively impacts both the giver and the recipient.
55+ Inspirational (Mostly FREE) Random Acts of Kindness Ideas
Some activities cost you nothing, only taking a moment of your time. Other ideas will be more in-depth, and some may require a financial cost. Choose what fits your comfort level and the occasion, or use the following ideas as inspiration to come up with your own ideas.
- Hold the door open for someone behind you, whether or not their hands are full.
- Allow a shopper in the grocery line behind you to move ahead of you in line.
- Check on a neighbor you haven't seen outside in a while.
- Donate your old clothes to charity, your church, or to a local family in need.
- Tape coins to a parking meter or vending machine.
- Give a new employee a tour of your work area or offer to sit with them at lunch.
- Volunteer. At a nursing home, a homeless shelter, a church, a soup kitchen, your kid's school, an animal shelter, a foodbank, or anywhere else seeking help.
- Adopt a child or a family during the holidays to provide a meal and/or give gifts.
- Send a greeting card to someone you care about, a family member, a friend, or a neighbor, just to show you care and are thinking of them.
- Instead of receiving presents for your birthday, Christmas, or other gift-giving occasions, ask for donations to your favorite charity.
- Smile at someone you pass by as you walk somewhere.
- Give an unsolicited compliment to someone you see in your day-to-day life.
- Pay for the bill of the next patron behind you in line at a restaurant or drive-through.
- Let the store manager or business owner know when an associate provides exceptional service.
- Leave kind-hearted notes in the dressing room to encourage women's body positivity using the dressing room after you.
- Offer to babysit for parents who need a break or date night.
- Contribute to or initiate a “meal train” for a new mom friend.
- Clean up litter in your neighborhood or at your favorite outdoor recreation places, like a park or beach.
- Visit a nursing home to spend quality time with those who rarely receive visitors (bring treats for the residents and staff too).
- Send a heartfelt Thank You Note to someone who made a difference in your life.
- Pay for someone's store layaway who hasn't made a payment in a long while.
- Help fundraise for local events and charities by participating in sponsored activities like a 5k walk, craft-a-thon… etc.
- Shovel neighbor's driveways for those who may have difficulty doing the job themselves.
- Mow lawns or rake leaves for elder or disabled neighbors.
- Mentor a young person entering your profession
- Offer to help someone stranded on the side of the road.
- Take time to listen to someone who is having a bad day.
- Smile at a stranger.
- Encourage someone you know or encounter who is struggling.
- Give a word of praise to someone who will least expect it, like your boss.
- Hold the elevator for someone.
- Read a child a story.
- Listen to someone complain.
- Say a heartfelt thank you to someone doing something nice for you (or even something expected).
- Share a friend's creative work on social media.
- Call someone you haven't talked to in a long time to say hello.
- Leave a comment on a blog or a social media page when you read a post that genuinely resonates with you.
- Offer a bagged lunch or your restaurant leftovers to a homeless person.
- Tell a frazzled parent they're doing a good job or how well-behaved their child is.
- Hug someone (if they say it's okay).
- Offer to return someone's shopping cart while walking through the parking lot.
- Say something kind to the customer service representative on the phone or in person.
- Give up your seat to someone standing on the subway or bus.
- Write a short message of thanks or encouragement to a coworker, your spouse, your kids, or a random stranger.
- Say hello to a homeless person.
- Introduce yourself to a new neighbor or coworker.
- Make introductions between your contacts if you feel they could benefit or get along well.
- Let someone merge in front of you when driving in heavy traffic.
- Offer to assist a coworker if you have time and they seem swamped.
- Make amends for past wrongs to someone who was once in your life.
- Invite someone to your holiday celebration if you know they'll be alone.
- Share your expert knowledge with someone who has questions and has asked for advice.
- Write a positive (honest) recommendation on LinkedIn, Google Business, or other review sites.
- Offer to pick up items for others when you're heading out to grab lunch or run an errand.
- Recognize and edify someone for their excellent idea or contribution to a project, work meeting, or volunteer event.
- Intentionally pray for family, members of your church, and members of your community.
Hopefully, this quick list will inspire you to begin sharing random acts of kindness with those around you.
Simply pick an idea from the list above, or come up with an idea of your own, then take the time to do it, and see how you feel. Chances are you'll be ready to do another one tomorrow.
Make Time To Do a Random Act of Kindness Today
Even seeing a list of ideas to get you started, you still may not be convinced you're ready to go out there to spread unexpected joy in the world. Giving without a special occasion often feels foreign. You may feel awkward or worry about the reaction you'll receive, but that is okay. Slowly, you can work your way up to gain the confidence you'll need to turn giving random acts of kindness into a new hobby and addition to your lifestyle.
In all things, I have shown you that by working hard in this way, we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'“Acts 20:35
What May Be Preventing You From Giving Random Acts of Kindness
There are lots of things that could be keeping you from participating in blessing others through random acts of kindness.
Feeling insecure about putting yourself out there and feeling vulnerable is okay. It takes courage and self-confidence to give freely to another for no particular reason.
Perhaps you feel unworthy or worry the recipient won't receive their gift without suspicion. It can feel risky, but the rewards are worth it. Most recipients are enthusiastic and happy to receive such a surprise.
Maybe you feel too consumed with your own needs, have minimal available time, or can't fathom how to fit anything else into your schedule. Usually, you'll find this not to be the case once you start to give.
Be Brave: Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Doing random acts of kindness sparks a shift in your mindset, scheduling, and overall lifestyle, opening up the capacity for you to connect with others in meaningful ways.
Try taking one small step outside your comfort zone to give to another in even the most minor ways.
Then try something a bit more daring the next day.
Each positive response will increase your confidence and spark a desire to continue.
Make a Bigger Impact in Your Community
Small acts of kindness can have powerful results, change someone's outlook, and brighten their day. But what about ways to give back and share with others that involve more effort.
Suppose you have the time, money, or other resources to give. In that case, there are many ways you can significantly impact your local community, online community, or a community farther away affected by a natural disaster. These activities may not be feasible for everyone, but they're worthwhile if you can participate. Let's explore some large-scale random acts of kindness you can take on if you want to provide in a significant way.
Start or Participate in a Fundraiser
Fundraising is essential and can benefit many causes, from helping individuals to helping communities impacted by natural disasters.
Leading or volunteering in an established movement can require tremendous effort and commitment. However, you'll receive immense emotional benefits (and maybe some community recognition too). If you want to help others in a big way, set up or help with a church or vetted nonprofit fundraiser. You could rally your community to get involved (and maybe other communities around the country too).
Create a Charitable or Nonprofit Foundation
Another way to create results on a larger scale is to set up a charitable foundation or nonprofit organization.
You can benefit a specific cause through your efforts and impact a more significant number of people by initiating or participating in a nonprofit or charity. To do either of these activities, you will likely need more money (or knowledge of philanthropy) and the help of experts and financial advisers. However, applying for and receiving grants and other funding backers to help you is possible.
Participate in Philanthropy
You can volunteer for a meaningful cause in your free time (and recruit some helpers, too) without much risk. Sometimes the direct benefactors of volunteering are individuals or families enduring a difficult life season. Other times, an existing organization can reap the rewards of your efforts and share them with the beneficiaries of their overall efforts. Volunteering on a large scale may initially be intimidating, but when many people pitch in, that intimidation becomes more enjoyable. You may be the right motivational leader to make it happen.
If you've ever felt compelled to make a difference in a big way, consider one of these options. Some extra effort, dedication, and resources can result in a random act of kindness beyond anything you ever imagined.
Use Your Voice or Expression To Make a Difference
There are so many ways to reach out and be kind to others, whether you use your physical voice, write words, or provide other types of expression to share your thoughts and ideas. Using your preferred communication approach can make performing random acts of kindness much less stressful or intimidating.
Be Kind: Verbally
Talking is the most popular way to communicate.
While not everyone is comfortable using their physical voice to bestow random acts of kindness, if you enjoy talking, do so!
If you are outgoing and love to talk, there are many ways to engage in random acts of kindness.
- Tell someone they're doing a great job.
- Call your loved ones on the phone to say you're thinking of them.
- Visit your neighbor to check in and have a heartfelt conversation.
- Give a genuine compliment to someone around you (or on the phone)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.Ephesians 4:29
Written Kindness Options
If the thought of speaking makes you feel vulnerable or you're more introverted, consider writing options.
- Send an email of thanks to a coworker.
- Write a quick note on a post-it to surprise your spouse or child.
- Submit a colleague's review on LinkedIn
- Handwrite a letter to an old friend or loved one.
- Comment on a website or blog you love (or that belongs to someone you know)
These are all great.
Being Kind Through Artistic Expression
You don't have to use your voice or write if you prefer to be more creative in your good deeds.
- Volunteer to draw a mural for your neighborhood.
- Teach an art class at the local community center or assisted living
- Volunteering to paint with residents of a nursing home might be enjoyable for you.
- Play music for a local assisted living, nursing home, or other in-home care facilities
- Teach a creative class (pottery, painting, music, woodworking…etc…) to a local homeschool group or after-school program
Using your creative gifts are also meaningful ways to make your voice heard.
Using Body Language To Be Kind
Finally, another example of a way to communicate goodwill is through the subtle art of body language. A smile, hug, or simply being present can make a huge difference in someone's life. It's okay to tell someone going through a difficult time that you'd like to be there for them, even if you don't have the words or know-how to improve their life. Physically being near is a great comfort to many. That might be something you're comfortable doing. At the very least, we can all give someone a smile or encouraging nod.
Consider these ways of giving back through your words or other forms of language. There are no limits to how you can perform random acts of kindness.
Inspire and Influence Others To Pay It Forward
The phrase, “Kindness is contagious?” is widely known because it's based on truth. Research has found scientific evidence that kindness can spread in various ways. You've experienced or witnessed instances in which someone has paid it forward or a movement has spread based on one person's good deed.
The Giver, Receiver, and Witnesses Benefit From Kind Acts
Everyone benefits from random acts of kindness. The giver feels good and gets that “helper's high” from going out of their way to brighten someone else's day. The recipient enjoys the surprise of an unsolicited positive outreach. We all appreciate it when someone is friendly to us. These good feelings create a cycle because those involved want to continue feeling good and may feel obligated to “pay it forward.” Still, they know they will also experience a reward.
You can benefit even if you're not directly part of an act of kindness through “moral elevation,” which ensures good deeds spread by creating positive feelings when certain events trigger within your peripheral and central nervous systems. These neurophysical connections are made when someone witnesses or hears about an act of kindness or a feel-good story. The high or euphoric emotional feeling you experience motivates you to want to do something good, perpetuating the pay-it-forward cycle.
Evidence in Social Learning Theory
Social learning theory is based on how people will behave similarly to what they see in their peer groups or their families. Think: “monkey see, monkey do” or “birds of a feather” philosophies. Therefore, as children grow up in a family where kindness and compassion are typically modeled, they are more likely to display those traits. Just as when teachers (or homeschooling parent) demonstrates and emphasizes a core philosophy of doing good to their students, this standard will be the precedent among the class. Kindness is contagious when groups continually perform such behavior.
You can make a difference in your small corner of the world by simply performing random acts of kindness. Science and centuries of anecdotal evidence back this up. Be the change you wish to see, and encourage those around you to follow your influence and do good deeds. You'll begin to see an impact.