Obviously, you know that small acts of kindness can serve to benefit those around you. But did you know that these “selfless” acts can also boost your mood and make you feel amazing? No matter how significant or insignificant your charitable endeavours might seem, those acts of kindness help you lead a happier and more fulfilled day-to-day existence. To learn more about doing good and feeling good as a result, we’ve uncovered all of the “selfless” acts that you can do every day to completely transform your outlook and perspective, while making other people happy, too. It doesn’t get any better than that, right?
1 Start with a smile.
Simply taking the time out of your day to warmly greet people—even strangers—can have more of an impact than you realize. Countless studies have shown that smiling at others not only increases their level of comfort and happiness, but can also work to put you in a better mood. In the end, smiling is a win-win, and it’s a “selfless” act that will actually serve both you and whomever your happiness is directed at.
2 Tell the people you love how you feel.
Even if the people you love already know how you feel about them, it’s important to keep reminding them of your unwavering sentiment. Telling someone you love them can keep your relationship strong, and with strong bonds come more laughs, more memories, and more good times. Plus, nothing feels better than knowing someone you care about is feeling good!
3 Forgive others.
Possessing the ability to forgive is important, as holding on to negative feelings can work to compound your stress. So, even if someone’s action or words severely impacted your life in a negative way, it would benefit both of you to forgive them and work on rebuilding your relationship, rather than harboring resentment.
4 Hold the elevator.
In a perfect world, holding the door or elevator for someone would not even require a second thought, but in reality where it’s a rarity for people to be polite, this gesture goes a long way. And you never know: That person rushing to the elevator could be late for a career-changing meeting, so your act of kindness could make or break not just their day, but their life as a whole.
5 Bring a cup of coffee to your co-worker.
You never know what another person is truly going through, so even an act of kindness as small as bringing a coworker a cup of coffee could serve to seriously brighten their day. Plus, performing this act of kindness can strengthen your relationship with your coworker, creating a friendship that may not have been there before.
6 Give up your seat on the train.
No matter how much you want to relax after a long day at work, you should always give up your seat on the train to someone who needs it more than you (the elderly, a pregnant woman, etc.). If you were in that position, wouldn’t you hope for someone to give up their seat for you? This is a situation in which the golden rule comes in handy—because when you treat others how you would like to be treated, it can make you feel like you’re truly using your power of choice for good.
7 Help someone lift a heavy object.
Instead of turning a blind eye when you see someone struggling with something heavy, take a few minutes out of your day to lend a helping hand. Not only will assisting someone ease their burden, but it will also give you the satisfaction of knowing that you did something to make someone’s day just a little bit easier.
8 Allow someone to merge in traffic.
Even if you’re running a bit late yourself, giving someone a free pass in traffic will make both you and your fellow commuters feel good. Simply letting cars merge into your lane can lessen someone else’s stress—and knowing that was because of your good deed will make you feel great.
9 Offer to babysit for tired parents in need of a night off.
Even if you don’t have kids of your own, you can certainly still understand how caring for young children can leave moms and dads with little to no free time. So, if you notice that a parent in your life seems more exhausted than usual, volunteer your babysitting services. It will give you a chance to bond with your friend’s kids, and it could also turn that parent’s week completely around and provide them with a much-needed mental health break.
10 Bake cookies for your neighbour.
In this day and age, you’re lucky if you even know what your neighbors look like. However, you can work to change this unfriendly system simply by bringing a basket of cookies or muffins to your neighbor and introducing yourself.
This small gesture can make fellow homeowners on the block feel welcome and at ease while also establishing a unity in the neighborhood that might benefit you later down the line. In fact, Bob Borzotta, author of Neighbors From H***, explained to the Chicago Tribune that getting to know your neighbors can help diffuse arguments in a much more efficient manner. “If someone leaves their dog out too late barking, then that’s Joe—it’s not some random guy you hate,” he said.
11 Bring soup to a sick person.
Showing kindness to others when they’re sick can be a great way to demonstrate that you care for them. And if you’re not exactly the world’s best chef, you can also show someone you care when they come down with a cold by offering to help in any arena of their life that may be neglected while they recuperate.
12 Stop interrupting.
If you truly want to show the people you care about that you respect them, simply listening to what they have to say can be powerful on its own. It’s plain and simple!
13 Fix something for someone else.
Taking the time out of your day to lend someone a hand around the house could save them both time and money. And completing these small tasks for others can help you sharpen your mechanical and woodworking skills, so it’s a win-win!
14 Give compliments to strangers.
Though catcalling is not the way to compliment others, there is a way to give strangers compliments on their appearance without crossing a line. Telling someone that you love their outfit or that their eyebrows are on fleek can make their day—and who knows, you might just inspire said stranger to pay you a compliment in return.
15 Donate old items.
When it comes to donating your old items, the possibilities are endless. Nonprofits like Goodwill and The Salvation Army are willing to accept everything from clothes and shoes to books, furniture, and other household items. The best part? You’ll be helping others while making room in your house for new things that you actually have use for.
16 Make someone laugh.
Cracking a few jokes can actually benefit both you and those around you. In addition to the fact that there are numerous health benefits of laughter, making people laugh can also provide an excellent way for you to bond with friends and family members.
17 Send a thank you letter.
Sending a thank you note is always a more personal way to show your gratitude. When someone sees that you took the extra time to write a card and mail it, they truly understand just how much they mean to you. And as far as the benefits for you, here are 20 Science-Backed Benefits of Gratitude.
18 Share your resources with others.
Whether you’re referring a friend to a great doctor or giving a stranger advice about which gym they should sign up for, sharing your resources and wealth of knowledge is an incredibly useful act of kindness. Not only are you helping friends and family with your expertise, but you’re also supplying more business to places that you love.
19 Give someone a book that changed your life.
Giving someone the gift of life-changing wisdom is probably one of the most powerful small acts of kindness that exists. After all, if the recipient is as moved as you are by the book, they might also share it with someone else, a true instance of paying it forward.
20 Pick up litter.
Occasionally picking up litter benefits every living thing on the planet—specifically, it preserves your neighbourhoods and parks, prevents floods, and works to keep the cost of living in your area low by saving money on sanitary services, according to the Providence Journal. By picking up a water bottle on the way to work or during a stroll through the park, you’re doing your part to preserve the beauty of the places you and others enjoy so much.
21 Call your parents.
No matter how old you are, giving your parents (or any family member, for that matter) a call just to chat can do wonders for your relationship. Though your family will always be there to support you, it’s still important to remind them of how grateful you are for this fact—and that you’re always there on the other end of the line, too.
22 Pay for someone’s meal.
The next time you’re at a fast food restaurant, spend a few extra dollars to pay for the meal of the person behind you in line. Doing so will definitely boost your mood and it might even influence the person who received a free meal from you to pass on that kindness to someone else.
23 Leave a positive review.
People have a tendency to only write reviews when they’ve had a particularly bad experience, leaving review sites like Yelp flooded with negative reviews that deter people from visiting restaurants and stores that might’ve just had an off day. So, the next time you have a great meal somewhere or encounter an extra friendly associate at a store, make sure to leave them a nice review online. A good review has the power to boost a business or service’s reputation by clueing in other prospective customers.
24 Be kind to servers and retail employees.
The next time your waiter gets your order wrong, instead of throwing a fit, simply acknowledge that it was a simple mistake and ask for them to give it another try. Being rude or getting angry will only make the waiter feel less inclined to help you and will make you look like a tyrant to whomever you’re dining with. Uttering a simple “please” and “thank you” will go much farther, especially when paired with patience and understanding.
25 Tip 22 percent.
Even if you weren’t exactly thrilled with the service, you should always make a habit of tipping your waiter just a little bit more than expected. Think of it this way: Have you ever let what’s going on in your personal life affect your performance at your job? Would you want your wages dinged as a result? Exactly. (Also, remember: Per the Fair Labor Standards Act, some waiters might be making as little as $2.13 per hourbefore tips.)
26 Show some kindness to a telemarketer.
Just like you, telemarketers are real people with jobs to do—and every time you call them names or hang up on them without even letting them speak, you’re making it incredibly hard for them to do their job. So, the next time a telemarketer calls you, practice patience and at least sit through their monologue before politely turning down whatever they’re offering and hanging up the phone. This way, you’ll both end the conversation in a more positive light.
27 Send flowers to your partner.
Sending flowers to your partner on a regular basis (or just doing nice things in general for them) can show them how grateful you are to have them in your life every single day—not just on the national holidays when it’s expected. Doing these little things to make your partner happy can strengthen your relationship.
28 Encourage someone to pursue a goal.
The last time that you made a big change in your life, did you get some words of encouragement from a friend or family member? If so, then you know the power of a pep talk, especially when it comes to making a big life decision. With just a few words of encouragement, you could change the course of a person’s entire life and feel good knowing that you pushed someone to pursue their passions.
29 Start looking at the glass half full.
People who complain all the time are not only making themselves angry, but are bringing down everyone around them. So, the next time you feel the urge to moan about how long the line at Starbucks is or whine about that coworker who never finishes his work on time, stop yourself before you say something out loud. Being an optimist and looking for the silver lining in life will make you and those around you instantly happier.
30 Leave spare change around.
Laundry machines, parking meters, vending machines—if a service is still reliant on the 20th-century payment method of quarters, leave a few behind for the next customer. Similarly, if you’re driving through a toll booth, consider paying for the person behind you. It’s a small act of kindness that doesn’t cost too much—and will definitely make someone’s day.
31 Let someone cut the line.
If you’re at the grocery store checkout line with a massive cart loaded with food for the week, look behind you before approaching the register. Does the person at the end of the line only have a handful of items? Let them go in front of you. You’ll be delayed by less than a minute, while the person behind you will save a not-so-insignificant amount of time.
32 Help an elderly person with their groceries.
Rather than standing by and watching as an elderly person struggles with their groceries, take the five minutes to help them carry their things. You’ll be preventing them from possibly injuring themselves and proving to them that there are good people in this world!
33 Be kind to yourself.
Sure, all of the small, “selfless” acts of kindness on this list can help you feel amazing, but the best way to truly improve your mental health is by being kinder to yourself. Setting impossible standards or constantly beating yourself up over things will only put you into a tailspin of negative thoughts, eventually causing you to lash out at those around you. Practice kindness with yourself, and it will be much easier to do the same with others.