Chalk it up to the holiday cheer and finally reaching our long-awaited vacation, but we feel like leaping through the streets with maracas in celebration and support of people spreading kindness just for the sake of it. And we aren’t the only ones. In fact, the concept of being nice and paying it forward has earned itself a spot on the list of obscure national holidays as Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17. But why limit ourselves to one day if it’s possible to be kinder on a regular basis?
Admittedly, while in the middle daily routines, even the most compassionate people can forget that commonplace gestures have transformative potential. We don’t always consider how a frustrated honk or a forgotten "thank you" can ruin someone’s day. And these may be cases of unintentional damage, but they’re cases of damage we should aim to avoid. So in an effort to inspire more thoughtful living, we brainstormed 25 simple gestures that go a long way to improve daily life and create a more compassionate community.
To make things a little more doable, we broke down our list into five little things to do every day across five days or whenever you find the time.
Ready to take the five-by-five kindness pledge? Scroll through to pay it forward and to start your week (and beyond) in kindness.
Whether you’re working through the holidays or taking some time off, make the most of your fresh start to the week by spreading these random acts of kindness.
1. Give a genuine compliment to three people today. It can be a passing stranger, a random co-worker, a close friend, or a beloved family member. Whether you keep it simple or make a grand gesture is up to you.
2. Start planning a feminine hygiene product drive at your office. Figure out what supplies to get to make it easy for others to participate. Once you’re organized, spread the word in your place of work or school to initiate the project.
3. We all know how much fun it is to find a parking ticket on the windshield, so if you see an expired meter on the street and have some spare change, consider feeding it to save someone the trouble.
4. If a homeless person addresses you and you aren’t in a rush, offer to get them food from a nearby vendor.
5. Let someone cut you line at the grocery store or pharmacy if you aren’t in a big hurry. This will be greatly appreciated if they have fewer items. And maybe next time you’re in their position, someone will do you a solid too.
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Ready for a fresh batch of random acts of kindness? Coming right up.
1. It’s so valuable to vocalize our appreciation for those who have taught us something important. So send a quick email or make a phone call to a mentor or teacher who has made an impact on your life to express your gratitude.
2. During your commute, offer someone your subway seat if they look more tired than you or have their hands full. If you drive, let someone into your lane. It’s a good way to test your own road rage, too.
3. If you have time, send a handwritten note with an uplifting message or a thoughtful care package to sick children.
4. Make a helpful introduction. Whether you play Cupid between two acquaintances or you pass a résumé along, connecting a friend can go a long way, and it doesn’t take much effort at all.
5. We all know how negative review comments can be, so if you had a good experience at a small business, write a nice review online about it.
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Make it over the midweek hump this Wednesday with the random acts of kindness below.
1. Call local schools, and ask if there are any children will overdue lunch bills. Offer to pay off the ones that you can afford.
2. If you’ve been holding a petty grudge, try to let go of it once and for all. This is a way to practice self-love while also helping repair any damaged relationships.
3. Go to a local animal shelter to show furry friends some much-needed affection. You can also look into organizations that need volunteers to walk dogs.
4. Do you have old, unused items collecting dust in your house? Consider donating old clothes or home goods to a shelter instead of reselling them.
5. In tough times, we often need support from our communities more than ever. Simultaneously, we often forget to thank them for their kindness, so today, thank someone who helped you or showed you love in a time of need.
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One more day to go until the weekend! Let’s make it count with the random acts of kindness below.
1. Donate $5 to a cause you care about. It may seem small, but it isn’t if we all contribute.
2. Sometimes we need a gentle reminder to sincerely thank a doorman, janitor, waiter, or pretty much anyone else in the service industry. Eye contact can go a long way, too.
3. Pick up a stranger’s coffee tab if you can afford to do so.
4. Apologize for a wrongdoing you’ve stayed silent about, not to alleviate your own guilt but to allow someone else to heal.
5. Treat our planet with kindness, and plant a tree. If you want to take an extra step, look into the local community gardens, and see how you can get involved on a more consistent basis.
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Congrats! You made it to Friday. In honor of making it through another busy workweek, read through the kind gestures below to decide how you want to spread compassion and pay it forward.
1. Speak up when you see something you don’t believe in, no matter how small.
2. Make a playlist for a friend who’s down. Share it with them on Spotify or go old school and burn them a CD.
3. Leave extra quarters in the laundromat. There’s nothing more heroic…
4. Do your best to avoid gossip, and stand up for the underdog.
5. Make a treat over the weekend and then share with your co-workers on Monday.
This story was originally published on December 20, 2017, and has since been updated.