Tiny Acts of Kindness

5 ways to help yourself by helping others

Do you love the idea of gratitude, but you don’t like waiting around for someone to do something nice for you to express it? Fear not, proactive and controlling one, we have another strategy. It’s random acts of kindness! You know, the small stuff that might brighten a coworker’s, or even a total stranger’s day. Doing something for someone else is one of the best ways to increase your own happiness. In fact, kindness and generosity have been linked to stronger relationships, better mental and physical health, and greater satisfaction in life overall.
Our advice? Start out small. Like, really small. Then, watch as your happiness grows. Here are 5 small things you can do to brighten someone else’s day:
1. Smile at a stranger. And if you’re brave, nod and say hello. With that simple gesture, the world instantly feels like a friendlier place. 

2. Allow someone to cut in front of you. Type As will go crazy, but just try it. Wave in the driver who is trying to merge in traffic. Allow the person with one or two items to jump ahead of you at the checkout line. See how it makes you feel to make someone else day go a little easier. 

3. Tell someone what you love about them. We’re not talking about a long, heart-felt convo (unless you’re up for that). Just a quick, “I love that you’re always so positive at work!” or, “I love how you answer the phone so politely.” You get the picture. A little love could be exactly what someone needs to hear to turn their day around. 

4. Intentionally take the inconvenient parking space. In your mind, focus on the idea that you’re leaving the convenient spaces for people who need them more than you do – like the elderly, pregnant women or parents with small children. You won’t see their gratitude necessarily, but you’ll feel your own generosity. Plus, you get a few more steps in by parking farther away. 

5. Call your mom (or any other relative you really should call). For many people, it’s tough to make time for these kinds of calls. If you’re a call dodger, alleviate the fear of getting stuck on the phone for hours by sweetly telling the person you’re reaching out to that you only have a few minutes to chat, but you wanted to check in and let them know you’re thinking about them. A few minutes to show that you care and an “I love you!” are a great place to start. 

Victoria Clayton is a Southern California-based writer who has contributed to TheAtlantic.com, The Los Angeles Times, Redbook, Self and many other publications. She was a health and parenting columnist for MSNBC.com.  She’s a wife, mom, small business owner, intrepid cook and yoga lover. 



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