With a constant assault of bad news in the media, it can be easy to forget that there are good people too, and that for every bad thing that happens, there are even more good things we can do. If you're interested in making a positive difference in the world, but don't know where to start, consider one of these five ideas for random acts of kindness.
Pay for the person behind you
Have you ever pulled up to the drive-thru at Starbucks only to find out that the person in front of you paid for your drink? While it's probably not a huge expense (unless you ordered a venti, triple shot, double whip, mocha frappuccino), it was a simple act of kindness that made you stop and think, and maybe even consider paying for the person behind you the next time you are at Starbucks, getting fast food, a toll road or bridge crossing.
Leave a great tip or small gift for a service provider.
There is something to be said about great service. Have you ever received excellent service from a waiter/waitress, hairdresser, mailman/mailwoman, or even a receptionist or assistant? Consider leaving them a larger than average tip (where appropriate) or getting them a small gift to show your appreciation. Even the smallest of rewards can put a smile on someone's face and encourage continued great performance.
Go out of your way to do something for someone else.
I recently watched a man stop and help an older woman load her groceries and purchases into the trunk of her car. He even took the shopping cart and walked it over to the nearest cart return in the parking lot. It probably only took five minutes of his time, but I have no doubt that his kindness made a lasting impression on the woman he helped. The truth is you don't have to look very far to do something for someone else. Maybe it's giving up your seat on a bus or subway to someone who needs it. Maybe it's stopping and helping someone change their flat tire. The possibilities are endless.
Write a note of appreciation.
When you take the time to tell a friend, family member, coworker, or even the kid at the sandwich shop who always serves with a smile how much you appreciate them, you have the chance to really make someone's day. Words of appreciation may be something that you hear regularly, but not everyone does. Keep this in mind in your daily life, and consider thanking someone for all they do. You never know, it could be the only words of appreciation they hear that day.
Pick up trash and throw it away.
How many times have you walked by a parking spot and seen trash that someone obviously threw on the ground? Do you actually take the time to pick up the trash and walk it to the trash can? Maybe you do, maybe you don't, but what do you think would happen if someone saw you pick up that trash, throw it away and walk back to your car or continue into the store? They'd probably take notice and consider doing the same the next time they walk by trash on the ground.
While these five ideas may get you started, the opportunities for random acts of kindness are everywhere! I encourage you to add your own ideas in the comments section, and challenge you to perform at least one random act of kindness over the next week and share with us what you did to make a positive difference in someone's life.