Spreading happiness is one of the most fun things you could do!
Even when you’re feeling down, if you can do a random act of kindness as they say and you see someone brighten up, it will bring a smile to your face as well and make you feel better too!
Positivity breathes more positivity, remember that!
In this post I will give you a ton of random act of kindness ideas.
You’ll learn a lot of small things that you can do to make someone else’s day just that little bit better! Some of these acts of kindness will cost some money, but for the most part, they don’t cost you anything except for a couple of seconds of your time!
Table of Contents
The Caveat to a Random Act of Kindness
Before I give you the ideas, let me make 1 thing clear:
This is something I wrote about the other day, something that both pains me to see and that ruins relationships. If you fall into this “trap” so to speak, your act of “kindness” will NOT work out well, period!
And that thing is being manipulative!
You can read the whole post here, but here’s the short version:
Oftentimes, people do nice things not because they want to do something nice for someone, but because they want something in return. An example would be sucking up to someone of higher status or the “nice guy syndrome”.
The latter goes like this:
Some guy (or girl) does nice stuff for someone (without being asked) because they want to get that person to have certain feelings for them. They’re not being nice, they’re manipulative!
That’s not what a random act of kindness is!
A random act of kindness is something that you do for someone else because you want to help the other person. There cannot be any ulterior motives on your end!
The key is to not expect anything in return!
Hopefully that part is clear, so that we can now go into the list of ways in which you can brighten someone else’s day and make the world a happier place!
How to Make Every Interaction Way Better
Communication is a subtle thing!
In every single interaction, there are little things that you can do that will achieve a warmer response. There are also things that can kill the attempt altogether. Try saying something nice while looking angry.
Examples of this are simple:
- Have open body language
- Be patient
- Joke or laugh with them
- Even adding a few words to a gesture
So stupidly simple, but incredibly effective!
When you read the first random act of kindness example below, imagine how different the response would be without doing these little things and you’ll understand the power of small things in communication.
Random Acts of Kindness Ideas
Below you’ll find the best random act of kindness ideas.
As you can see below (and from the table of contents), I’ve categorized them by category. Depending on your relationship between you and the other person, different ideas will be more appropriate than others.
But, that’s not all!
The devil is in the details, so in order to really help you, I’m including small tips or examples that make these little acts of kindness more effective! This should make it easier for you to implement them into your life.
Random Acts of Kindness for Strangers
Let’s start with how to make a stranger’s day just a little bit better!
From my observation, people are so disconnected these days.
Even when in public places together, most people seem to stick to their own devices, which is a shame. I think it would be so much more fun if we could break that barrier and make looking after each other the norm, not the exception!
1. Make Way for Someone the Right Way
As simple as it seems, this can easily go wrong!
Ever had a situation where both you can the other person stop so that the other can pass? You then stand there for a few seconds until 1 of you takes the initiative and moves.
But guess what?
You’ve probably been thinking “I just stopped, just go already”, which can lead to a bit of frustration. Which obviously is not the effect you want when you’re being nice.
Instead do this:
Stop, make sure their path is clear, look them in the eye, smile, and here’s the key: gesture them to move forward and/or say something along the lines of “Go ahead.”
Note: I love Star Wars, so I had to include this, but notice how the storm trooper’s gesture looks impatient. You want to make your gesture calmer and more gentle to avoid them thinking you just want them out of your way.
Let Someone Cut in Front of You
Sometimes you can tell people are rushed.
It’s a perfect situation to let someone go in front of you, in the line in the supermarket for example. Saying something simple like “Oh you go ahead. I’m not in a rush.” or “I can wait.”
This avoids you pointing out that they look like they’re in a hurry, or even stressed out, which some people might not appreciate very much.
You can also do the same when the other person only has a few things.
2. Ask if You Can Help Them
Let me give you an example:
I’m quite the beer connoisseur.
Sometimes I see people look at the craft beer shelf with that deer in the headlights kind of look:
Unless I’m in a rush myself, I turn to them and ask if they need help in deciding. If they say yes, I’ll ask about their taste, share my preference and come to some recommendations.
You almost always want to ask for permission to help them. People often don’t appreciate unsolicited advice, especially from a total stranger.
3. Give Someone a Unique Compliment
If they heard it a million times before, it won’t have the same effect.
Something like “Hey, I know this is totally random but I just LOVE that Pokemon sweater! (did I mention I’m a nerd?) What’s your favorite?” can make someone’s day and be a great conversation starter as well.
Notice the underlined part:
Like I said, most people don’t often don’t interact that much. It’s a little phrase that acknowledges this, making it less likely to come across as weird or creepy.
4. Stop to Help Someone Out
If you see someone having trouble getting a cart or stroller up a ramp, drop something, or struggle with some task, go ahead in help out.
Unlike the situation above, with cases like this, people often don’t mind the help. Just remember to bring friendly communication and perhaps add something like “Don’t worry, I got it.” or “Here, let me give you a hand”.
5. Pay for the Person Behind You
If you’re feeling especially generous, this could be a good option, or a terrible one…
Depending on the person they might think it’s weird (because honestly, who randomly pays for someone else?) or might even feel offended. So if you want to do this, be extremely cautious!
If you do this, make sure to have left before they realize what’s going on.
6. The Free Alternative
Many stores (especially supermarkets) will have certain promotions where you can save for extra items, or get something for free.
These little guys are from a promotion by a supermarket in the Netherlands years ago. Everyone wanted them, and you’d see them stickied to car windows, on desks, in living rooms, virtually everywhere!
Anyway, here’s the point:
If you don’t want the promotion, turn around to the person behind you and ask if they want them instead.
7. Stop to Give Some Directions
You can usually tell when someone is lost.
It’s less common these days with smartphones, but it will happen occasionally. Just walk up and ask if they need help finding something or getting somewhere.
8. Leave Behind Something Useful
Let me give you an example:
We rarely use them these days, but we used to have day tickets for public transport. You can travel a certain route as many times as you like. People would often leave their tickets at the ticket boots when they were done.
The next person comes along to get a ticket, and they’d pick up the one that was left there.
9. Make Your Waiter’s/Waitress’s Day
It’s common decency, but not common practice.
I’ve heard plenty of stories from friends and waiters I speak to about customers that have been rude for no fucking reason! Not only do you not want to be that guy/gal, but you want to be the opposite!
Give them a compliment on the food/drinks/hospitality (even better when you tell a manager too), make some small talk (if it’s not too busy), ask for their personal recommendation, etc.
Treat them like a person, not a servant!
10. Learn the Names of People You Meet
Regardless of the language, the most beautiful word to most people is their own name! It’s a feeling of being recognized by someone else.
Think about the places you frequent and the people you see there. The waiters at the bar, the security guard at your work’s parking lot, the receptionist, etc. Anyone you see regularly, but don’t really interact with too much.
Learn their names, use them, smile and take the time to talk to them!
Pssst… you’re not doing this to get anything in return, but accidents can happen. Like the barman “accidentally” drafting a large beer instead of a regular one.
11. Make Others Feel Included
Ever been at a party with strangers, where you only know a few people?
Some people love that, others don’t.
If you see a stranger at a party by themselves, looking lost or lonely, they might be the kind who don’t know many people and are shy. Take some time to talk to them, and maybe even introduce them to some people.
I used to be extremely introverted, so I can tell you that can mean the world to someone!
12. Hold the Door Open for Someone
Again, this is something where kind, patient body language and a smile make all the difference. If you still have any doubt at this point, try both the cold and warm ways of interacting and notice the difference.
13. Make a New Neighbor Feel Welcome
Someone new moving in in your street?
Go over there to introduce yourself, bring a little something and make them feel welcome. You could also offer to show them around town if they’re not already familiar.
14. Take a Picture
Ever seen a couple or group try to take a picture?
Offer to take the picture for them, plain and simple.
15. Interact With People
Sometimes it’s literally that simple!
Whether it’s helping someone out, saying hi, giving a compliment, or even something as simple as smiling at someone, just do it! In a world where many people are seemingly scared to interact, this goes a long way!
Random Acts of Kindness for Work
Moving on to bringing some happiness to the workplace!
I’ve been part of, and have heard stories of companies where there is little to no communication between teams and whatever there is, is strictly business.
I’ve also been on the other side:
A workplace where it’s about more than work, people interact with others even outside their immediate team, and where employees are friends as well as coworkers.
The things below will bring more happiness, positivity and fun to your job!
If you’re a business owner or manager, try to encourage some of these things. The better your team gets along, the better they’ll be able to work together and the more likely they are to stay at your company.
16. Throw Down the Gauntlet
At an old job, we had a Fussball table and darts board.
Incredibly fun! 🙂
If your office has something along those lines, make it a thing to challenge a different person every single day to a game. It’s great fun and a good chance to bond.
17. Welcome the New Employee
For some people, being around new people is uncomfortable.
At a new job, the first couple of days or weeks where they know nobody can really suck for them! Be the one to break the ice for example by inviting them for lunch or simply by introducing yourself (and coworkers).
It can really make a huge difference in their first couple of weeks.
18. Do the Same for Older Employees
Form some more relationships at work by inviting some of the people that you don’t normally interact with that much to lunch, or to take the time to actually socialize with them.
19. Include More People in Your Routines
Depending on your job, you may already be doing things like getting coffee for the guy in the same cubicle, covering each other’s workstation if it’s busy, going for lunch with those in the same office, and things like that.
How can you include others in those?
20. Be the Delivery Boy/Girl
Here’s an example from an old job of mine:
While I was doing production work in a factory, it would get incredibly hot in the summer. So after a break, I (or someone else) would occasionally take some extra water bottles and pass them around.
No need to ask, just surprise them with kindness.
21. Show Some Appreciation
You’re almost always dependant on other departments.
If you’re in sales for example, why not get together with your colleagues to put together a gift basket for the marketing team you rely on for leads. Just a few bucks can create an amazing gesture!
As a manager, do this occasionally for your teams as well.
22. Take the Time to Chat
Oftentimes that’s the extend of a conversation in the hallways. Even if it’s short, a chat about something non work-related can break up the workday and brighten someone’s day.
Don’t take too much time though, or the boss might not like it. 😉
23. Bring More to the Table
Bring some fruit, cookies, candy or something along those lines that you can put on your desk for your colleagues to share. It’s a small thing, but a pretty nice gesture.
24. That Extra Level of Support
We all have our off days.
If you notice that someone is really having a bad day, see if you can make a difference. Maybe you can try some of the things above, or offer to help them out with a difficult task. There’s always something you can do, especially when someone isn’t feeling their best.
25. Reconnect With Former Coworkers
Our coworkers are some of the people we spend the most time with. However, people often fall out of touch with most former coworkers after either one changes jobs.
Pick up the phone and call or text!
26. Be a Mentor
New employees often have a hard time at first, not only because they don’t know anyone, but also because they might not be familiar with the tasks that their new job requires of them.
Making sure they know they can count on you for guidance not only makes them feel more welcome and at ease, it also helps them become more productive quicker.
27. Help Someone Struggling in a Meeting
It often happens that somebody tries to say something in a meeting (or even a group conversation), but gets cut off. It’s often without bad intent or even intentional, but people can quickly feel left out.
Depending on the person, they may or may not be able to draw attention to themselves enough to make their point. If you notice it, you can be the one to interrupt and give the floor for that person to speak.
28. Put Away the Headphones and Phone
If your work allows you to put in headphones to listen to whatever music you like, you might want to reconsider doing that. It can work wonders when you need to focus, but it’s at the cost of shutting out the outside world, your coworkers.
Try leaving them out and interacting with people instead. 🙂
Likewise, when you’re in the company of others, put away the damn phone! I see this way too often pretty much everywhere, and it’s just plain rude!
Random Acts of Kindness for Friends & Family
Moving on to a very special group of people, your friends and family.
While you’re already pretty close with these people and you probably won’t need to go the extra mile, there are some small things that you can do to bring that little bit of extra delight.
29. Be the One to Suggest Things
Take this from a recovering introvert:
There are plenty of people who rarely take the initiative to plan activities for whatever reason. But they would love to go when someone else takes the initiative to plan something.
Be the one to take action, especially if you’re usually the one who waits for others.
30. Bring Something With You When You Visit
This works best when it’s a surprise.
Bring along a bottle of wine, food, flowers, an ornament for someone’s new house, etc. Pick something according to the situation, but don’t ask them if you should bring something beforehand, just do it!
If you ask, it’s now expected of you instead of it being a nice surprise.
31. Catch Up With Someone
Our lives are constantly changing and people constantly come into our lives as well as leave them. Think about friends from high school or college, people from a club you were part of, former neighbors, etc.
Text or call and set something up to catch up with someone.
32. Be that Pillar
Loneliness and depression are quite common unfortunately. If you have the feeling someone you know might be suffering from it or have gone through a tough situation (like a breakup), plan something with them or include them in yours.
Additionally, you can be that person they know they can talk to if needed.
33. Change Your Kind of Jokes
This could be a blog post of its own (or a couple), but here goes:
Teasing and joking is part of pretty much every group of friends, but there are jokes that people often don’t appreciate and make them dislike you. If you’re going that put people down, avoid areas they might be sensitive about at all cost.
This video would be a good starting point:
Instead, what you could do is direct some jokes at yourself or others to avoid having 1 person be at the receiving end. Add in jokes that elevate people as well and you’ll see your humor gets a way better reaction.
34. Give Better Gifts
Flowers, money, drinks and the like can be great gifts depending on the person.
If you pay close attention to the conversations you have with people, you’ll be able to go the extra mile! If someone mentions being a huge Star Wars nerd (like me), how about a stormtrooper figurine?
It’s way more thoughtful and they’ll feel more appreciated for it.
35. Pick Up the Tab
Some people keep track of just about every cent. They’d be like “can you pay me back the 72 cents of the bag of chips we bought the other day” and they’re not even joking about it.
Don’t be that person!
“Guys (or girls), I got this one!” A simple sentence that shows that you value the friendship more than the couple of bucks it takes to pay up. And guess what? Next time, someone else will probably follow suit, so it ends up even anyway.
Just don’t be stingy with your friends!
36. Support a New Parent
How do you know someone is a new parent?
One of the telltale signs are the bags you see under their eyes. Most parents I know went through periods of sleeplessness and if you’re a parent yourself, you can most likely relate.
That one night where they can rest while you babysit would be like paradise for them!
37. Lend or Give a Book
Here’s a recent example:
The other day a friend mentioned he wanted to learn more about day trading. I happened to have recently gotten a course on it, so I took the time to put it on a flash drive and hand it to him. He was pretty happy about it! 🙂
If you can make it personal like that, those are bonus points!
38. Make an Effort to Really Be Present
I’ve said it in the section above, but I’ll repeat it here.
I don’t really want to call this an act of kindness, but common decency. However, I often see people in public and each other’s company who are interacting with their phones instead of each other.
Very disrespectful! Just put it away and really connect with people.
40. Point Out the Positives
It costs nothing to make a sincere compliment, yet they often don’t get made as much as they should be in casual conversation. Even when people know the teases and jokes aren’t meant in a bad way, it still feels good when someone pays a compliment outright.
Random Acts of Kindness for Students
Sometimes it seems that among children and students (especially high school), kindness is not something that is valued highly among peers. Even though kindness is a virtue, it’s usually not what makes one popular.
All the more reason to use one of these random act of kindness ideas!
41. Help a Struggling Classmate
I’ve been fortunate to have a good set of brains and the ability to take in and actually understand information easily. So I never really had to study as hard as classmates, while getting better results.
If that sounds like you as well, take some time to give back. If you know people are struggling, offer to help answer questions if they have any before an exam or to look over an assignment.
42. Share Your Notes
If you’re someone who takes a lot of notes or writes summaries, you’re creating something that many others in your class would find useful as well. Taking a simple photo is all it takes to help someone prepare for an exam.
43. It’s Not Just About Classes
We were blessed to have not 1, but 2 bars on campus in university.
College can be draining mentally and social contacts can pull one through, as I’m sure millions of students experienced when social events became unavailable. Do stuff with your fellow students before or after class, invite people outside your immediate group as well.
44. Show Some Appreciation to a Great Teacher
Just the other day, I saw this video where the entire class had their cameras off during an online lecture. Then, they all turned them on at the same time while holding thank you notes for the professor.
A simple gesture, but that 100% made the teacher’s week!
Last But Not Least
Know that it’s not about doing something big!
When you treat people with respect, are patient with them and be kind, you’re already well on your way! Add a smile, friendly gestures, and positive body language without the need to get anything at all in return from someone and you’re good to go!
An act of kindness is simply sharing a little bit of positivity with every interaction!