100 Random Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Nicer Place

Things feel tougher than ever these days but instead of getting bogged down in the bad, do these little acts of kindness to bring light and love to your loved ones, your community, and the world.

Reader’s Digest is seeking stories of random acts of kindness that you’ve witnessed in your community for our search for the Nicest Places in America.

Sharing a compliment or letting someone go ahead of you in line may seem like a small thing at the moment but these little random acts of kindness can really add up, making the world feel like a nicer, safer place. Plus they often have ripple effects, helping and cheering others far beyond the person you originally helped. Not to mention, serving others is one of the fastest ways to help yourself feel happier and service is great for your health. Remember, service doesn’t have to be big to be meaningful—any of these small acts of kindness will make someone’s day.

Go to a local coffeehouse

All kinds of restaurants are hurting post-pandemic but small local businesses are some of the hardest hit, with many going out of business. Support your community by buying your morning coffee at a local place rather than a big chain.

Pay for the person behind you

While you’re paying for the coffee, cover the next person’s drink as well. It costs just a few dollars but can make a big difference to someone else. Plus it may inspire them to pay it forward to the next person in line, creating a chain of kindnesses. Get more good feelings—check out these kindness memes.

Whisper a “secret” to your child

Little kids love getting to hear secrets from their loved ones. Whisper a silly or fun secret to your child and watch their face light up. “You’re cooler than Superman!” “the cat secretly dreams they are a dog” or just “I love you to the moon and back.”

Plant wildflowers

Community nature centers often give out packets of local seeds for free or at a very low cost to encourage people to nurture their native environment. Grab a packet or two, take a hike with friends, and spread the plant love. Check out ways to get the whole family involved with these random acts of kindness for kids.

Decorate takeout boxes for the food pantry

Many community kitchens and food pantries serve meals in paper bags or boxes to go. Offer to buy a package and decorate each one with a kind saying or happy picture. Stickers are fun too! It’s a way to put a smile on a stranger’s face and it’s something anyone can do. This is just one beautiful example of the kindness of strangers.

Carry extra tissue packs

Crying in public is already no fun but it feels even worse when you have to wipe your weepy eyes or drippy nose on your mask or sleeve. Keep an extra travel-size pack of tissues in your bag, ready to hand to anyone in need. This small gesture can make someone feel seen and that can mean everything during a painful moment.

Delivery person leaving packages on porchSDI Productions/Getty Images

Carry a package up to the porch

Reduce the risk of porch pirates. If you see a nearby home with a package left in their yard, driveway, or another open area, take a few seconds to move it up to a more hidden spot on their porch to keep it safe.

Volunteer as a translator

Do you speak a second language? Volunteer a few hours a month as a translator at local schools or medical clinics in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Parents who don’t speak English may have a difficult time getting their children’s educational and health needs met.

Make cookies for a neighbor

It used to be common practice to take a plate of treats to an elderly neighbor or a new move-in but like many niceties, it’s fallen out of favor. Keep the tradition alive by taking a small plate of cookies with a cheery note to someone nearby who may need it. If you’re concerned about dietary issues, a small candle is a lovely option.

Set up a mini-library

With many public libraries closed or limited due to the pandemic, mini-libraries are even more needed and welcome. All you need is a small cupboard sturdy enough to keep books safe from the elements and a selection of gently used books for adults, youth, and children. Place it in a public space in your neighborhood and leave a sign instructing people to take and leave books on the honor system.

Leave a basket of balls at the dog park

Make a dog’s day (and their owner’s too!) by leaving a basket of old tennis balls at the park so no pup has to miss out on playing fetch. Another fun option is to make a “stick lending library” where you fill a basket with throwing sticks for dogs to enjoy.

Keep hygiene kits in your car to hand out to the house-less

Fill a small bag with travel-sized essentials like toothpaste, a toothbrush, floss, deodorant, soap, and hand sanitizer. Hand them out when you see someone on the street asking for help. These items are often hard to come by and can make a big difference in their comfort. Hygiene items being worth their weight in gold is just one of the things no one tells you about being homeless.

Close Up Of Woman's Hand Taking Out A Piece Of Garment From The Hanging Rail While Shopping At A Clothing Store In The City d3sign/Getty Images

Put things away at the store

It may be tempting to leave clothing in a changing room or put something back on the wrong shelf at a store. Show kindness to tired retail workers by putting your items back where they belong and perhaps even pick up some that you didn’t get out. Just make sure you’re following the current COVID-19 rules in stores.

Give someone a “just because” gift

Presents on your birthday or at the holidays are awesome but they’re also expected. But a surprise gift can feel even more meaningful. Giving a loved one a little something out of the blue—it doesn’t have to be expensive—is a kind way to show that you’re thinking about them and you care.

Give a coworker kudos

It feels so good when someone recognizes your hard work! Highlight something awesome a coworker has done or is doing. You could write a comment card, tell your boss, mention it in a group meeting, or leave a note on their desk—whatever works in your particular office culture.

Share a happy thought on social media

There is a lot of negativity online these days but it’s just as easy to post something positive as it is to be angry or mean. Spread a little bit of joy by posting a happy picture, a funny meme, an uplifting article (like this one!) or a sweet thought.

Refill the coffee pot

Whether you’re at home or the office if you see an empty coffee pot take a few seconds to refill it so it will be ready for the next person. You could also refill an empty snack basket, fruit bowl, or candy bowl.

Write a five-star review for good service

Online reviews have become an integral part of searching for a new dentist, auto body shop, or restaurant. Unfortunately, people may feel more motivated to post about negative experiences than positive ones. So if you have the best dentist (or mechanic or server) ever, take a few minutes to share why they’re so great on Google or Yelp — even if you’ve been using them for years.

Donate to a Patreon

Music, news analysis, artwork, podcasts, books—there are a lot of people putting out amazing content for free these days. If you have someone you adore, consider donating a few dollars to their Patreon account. (Or check their website for their preferred way to receive donations.) Even a dollar can make a big difference.

Acoustic Guitar Teaching Through A Video Call, Waving To Laptop At Home FG Trade/Getty Images

Share your expertise

Are you a master gardener? A black belt in karate? A published poet? A celebrated painter? If you have a particular area of expertise, consider sharing it with others interested in that field or hobby. You could teach a free lesson (Zoom works if you’re social distancing!) or give a lecture at a local school or share it on a website.

Chalk it up… on the sidewalk

One lockdown kindness tradition we’d definitely like to see continued was the practice of drawing pictures or writing uplifting sayings in chalk on your sidewalk or driveway. It has all the charm of graffiti but without the illegal part.

Make reusable feminine hygiene products

Reusable feminine sanitary pads are always needed, especially in countries where disposable pads aren’t the norm or aren’t available. If you have a little sewing skill you can download a pattern and go to work. Or you can donate new underwear, supplies, or money. Check out Too Little Children for more details.

Tell a service worker thank you

If anyone deserves extra gratitude these days it’s the people who keep everyday life functioning — teachers, grocery workers, truck drivers, baristas. Make sure to tell them thank you or, better yet, leave a little extra tip.

Volunteer at a vaccine clinic

Having enough doses of the COVID-19 vaccine is tricky enough but the real problem has been helping get them in the arms of the people who need them the most. Offer to help at a community vaccine clinic or to drive an elderly neighbor to get their shot.

Ask your great aunt to tell you a story

Chances are that your family is chock full of exciting, interesting, funny, dramatic, or entertaining stories. Ask an older relative to share some of their favorite family stories with you. They’ll love telling it as much as you love hearing it. Consider recording them on video to preserve that memory.

Full length of mother reading picture book while sitting with children in bedroomMaskot/Getty Images

Read a book to a child

Little ones love snuggling up for a good story! Pick a personal favorite or choose one of these childhood classics—the best children’s books ever written—and read it to your own kiddo or a close loved one.

Lower your headlights

No one likes getting a bright beam of light straight to their eyeballs so take the time to be considerate of others and lower your hi-beams.

Go for a walk with a friend

Enlist a friend as a walking buddy, it will brighten their day and yours. Plus, it will give you both a reason to get outside, get some fresh air and vitamin D, and exercise.

Send an anonymous love note

Pick someone who could use a little cheering up and write them an anonymous note telling them why they’re great. Not only will they be delighted to get fun mail (it’s not a bill!) but because they don’t know who sent it, they’ll be thinking happy thoughts about many of their friends.

Help out a firefighter

Firefighters do some of the most dangerous and difficult work on the planet yet they are often forgotten when people recognize local heroes, like veterans and police officers. Take a plate of cookies to the station or donate money or supplies. This is what firefighters wish you knew.

Write a joke on a sign

Between political posters and security signs, your neighborhood walk can feel a little overwhelming. Post a different kind of sign: Write a funny, non-offensive short joke on a large poster and stake it in your front yard for all to enjoy.

Clean up the pet poop

Want to be a real hero in your home or neighborhood? Pick up the dog poop or scoop the cat litter and dispose of the animal droppings. Sure you didn’t make the mess (unless you’re a dog with excellent computer skills) but it’s a little act of service that makes everyone feel happier.

Mature couple talking in kitchen and doing the dishes10'000 Hours/Getty Images

Do the dishes

A sink full of dirty dishes can make everything feel more overwhelming and depressing. Instead of worrying about whose night it is, take the initiative and get those dishes washed.

Keep bottled water in your car

Not only can this save you in an emergency but bottled water is great to have on hand in many situations. You can give one to a house-less person, a thirsty child at the park, a dizzy runner, or even pour some into your hands for a pup.

Replace the toilet paper

Don’t stack the new roll on the husk of the old roll. Or on top of the toilet. Or on the floor. Take 20 seconds and remove the old tube and put the fresh new roll on properly. Don’t forget to recycle the old tube!

Take out your neighbor’s garbage can

It’s garbage day and while taking your can out to the street you notice your neighbor’s still tucked away by their garage. Do them a solid and wheel their can out to the street.

Let someone go ahead of you in line

Do you have a full grocery cart and the person behind you only has a few items? Or perhaps there is a parent with a fussy baby, a person with a disability, or an elderly person. Offer to let them go ahead of you in line.

Plant a tree

The world needs more trees. Find out what trees are local and needed in your area and plant a sapling. Or you can donate $1 through One Tree Planted to plant a tree somewhere in the world.

Portrait of professor with face mask at home, holding booksRiska/Getty Images

Buy school supplies for a teacher

Many school teachers in America buy supplies for their classrooms out of their own pockets, in order to make sure their students have everything they need. This fall, offer to help a teacher you know or call the school to see what is needed.

Ask your spouse on a date

Sometimes it seems like the ones closest to us get the least of our attention. Show your spouse some kindness by planning a simple date night and asking them out.

Cut the complaints

It’s human nature: You can give someone five nice compliments and one criticism and it’s the criticism they’ll remember. Make a commitment to go an entire day without complaining or criticizing and you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel as well.

Shop sustainable brands

It’s worth the few extra dollars to purchase food, clothing, and household items from businesses that go the extra mile to be ethical and sustainable. Plus these items often last longer than their cheaper counterparts.

Ask someone a question about themselves

Instead of getting caught up in what you want to tell someone else, focus on them and ask an open-ended question or two. Not only will this help you get to know them better but they’ll feel seen and heard.

Nix the gossip

Sharing stories or rumors about others, especially if they’re titillating, is tempting but it can lead to hurt feelings, broken relationships, toxic environments, or worse. Listen to that little feeling in your gut and avoid gossiping.

Family laughing together during outdoor dinner partyThe Good Brigade/Getty Images

Put your phone away

At mealtimes, during class, at church, at the movies, or any other time you should be focusing on others, put your phone away. Don’t just hold it in your hand where you’ll still be tempted to check it; actually put it in your purse or a different room so you can give them your full attention.

Donate diapers to a family shelter

Babies need diapers but they can be very expensive, particularly for parents who are struggling. Donate diapers to a family or women’s shelter or many food banks accept them as well.

Decorate for a holiday

Lights, glitter, banners, and other festive decorations are a surefire way to lift people’s spirits, reminding them of the fun times still to come. And think beyond the big holidays like Christmas and Halloween. Is St. Patrick’s day your favorite? Go all out with the green! Or celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Set up some lawn games

On a warm summer evening set up a few lawn games in your front yard or at a park and invite people to play with you. Who can resist a quick game of cornhole? Being outside helps with social distancing and you can pick games that don’t require any contact, like hopscotch.

Clean off your equipment at the gym

Sanitation protocols are more important than ever these days so be a good citizen at the gym and take the extra few minutes to spray and wipe down any equipment you used, like free weights and yoga mats.

Businessman and woman using mobile phones while sitting on couch during conferenceMaskot/Getty Images

Tell someone something good you heard about them

Instead of passing on hurtful rumors, make it a point to pass on indirect compliments. Perhaps your boss said something nice about your coworker or your mom told you something kind about your sibling—pass on the love!

Shout-out your friends’ accomplishments

Did your best friend start a new business? Did your brother get a big promotion? Did a neighbor write a book? Take every opportunity you can to amplify the successes and accomplishments of others. It will make them feel supported and may inspire others to work towards checking off items on their own bucket lists.

Register to vote

A great way to make positive change both in your community and on a national level is to vote, but you can’t cast a vote if you’re not registered. Not sure? Take 30 seconds now to visit Vote.org and check your status. If you’re not registered, sign up today.

Get active in the community

Don’t waste your patriotic rights by sitting on the sidelines. Now that you’re registered to vote, get involved in local elections. You can help support candidates you like, volunteer at a voting center, or even run for office yourself! Just make sure you turn in your ballot on time.

Be honest…even if it makes you look bad

We live in a society that prioritizes appearance over reality, but while photoshopping your Facebook pictures or fudging your productivity numbers at work may make you feel better in the moment, ultimately it brings everyone down. The next time you’re tempted to tell even a small lie, do the kind thing and tell the truth. These kindness quotes will inspire you to be a better person.

Break out the Monopoly board

Kids are astonishingly easy to please and one of the things they like best is the gift of your time. Offer to play a few rounds of tag, a board game, cards, or Pretty Pretty Princess and watch their eyes light up with delight thanks to this random act of kindness. Check out some more tiny ways to encourage your kids every day.

Use your turn signal

The world would be a much less stressful place if everyone remembered to use their blinker when turning or merging into traffic. It takes just a moment to let the driver behind you know what you’re doing, and then we can all just relax and enjoy the ride.

Women Exercising Outdoors In The City Street In A Rainy Day In London LeoPatrizi/Getty Images

Ditch single-use plastic water bottles

Chances are you’ve got a water bottle (or ten) rolling around your house. Do the planet a favor and use it instead of disposable plastic bottles of water. Sure, the disposables are convenient, but using reusable bottles is a random act of kindness for the planet—and your wallet will thank you too.

Save a seal and snip the plastic rings on packs of cans

Who hasn’t seen a heartbreaking picture of a bird or other animal caught in a snare of plastic discarded from soda or beer cans? Fortunately, this is easy to avoid—simply take a few extra seconds to snip all the links before you toss them in the trash.

Share a “smize” with a stranger

Grins are gifts, especially when given freely with no ulterior motives. Giving a pleasant smile and a nod to a passerby is one of the quickest, easiest ways to brighten someone’s day. If you’re wearing a mask, a “smize” (smile with your eyes) can be just as powerful. Plus, just the act of smiling will give you a little boost of happiness too.

Register to be an organ donor

Organ donation is the gift that keeps on giving. Check to see if you’ve registered or sign up to be an organ donor on the National Organ Donor Registry. Make sure to discuss your wishes with your family members—it can be a tough conversation but it will save a lot of pain and confusion later.

Sign up for the bone marrow registry

The one big downside to organ donation is you won’t be alive to see your donation change a life. But you can always donate your bone marrow! Signing up is as easy as going to Be the Match and requesting a kit.

Senior man using a phonemixetto/Getty Images

Call your mom

Just because you don’t live with her anymore doesn’t mean she stopped caring about you! You don’t have to wait for Mother’s Day or her birthday; give her an unexpected call to check in and say hi. Don’t have a mom available? Call your dad or call a person who was just like a parent to you.

Leave a ~nice~ comment on the Internet

The Internet is rife with people arguing about every topic under the sun, and it’s all too easy to forget that the person on the other side of the screen is a real human being. Use your keyboard to uplift, sympathize with, comfort, or compliment an internet stranger. A little kindness can change a whole online conversation!

Shorten your shower

Reducing the time you spend standing under the hot water not only shows kindness to the earth and to other people in your house who may also want to shower but it can also save you money on your water bill. It’s a small sacrifice for some big wins.

Clean out your closet and donate to a charity

Keeping clothing and home goods that you no longer need clutters your home—and your emotions. Clean up your space and do a kindness by donating your gently used items to a local charity. Think beyond for-profit thrift stores and donation centers and consider giving to homeless shelters or organizations that help battered women or children in foster care. Here are some more powerful ways to give to charity without breaking the bank.

Ask someone how they are doing and then really listen

How often do you say, “How are you?” only to hear “Fine, and you?” All the time, probably. But people aren’t always “fine” and many could really use a kind, listening ear. If you’re talking to someone you know, ask them about something specific in their lives. If it’s a stranger, allow them to elaborate more, if they like. The real kindness is to listen with compassion and without judgments or interruptions.

Mixed race woman writing at deskJGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Make a list of things you love about your partner

Living with someone can drain the romance out of even the best relationships. (Especially once you’ve seen the barbaric way they squeeze the toothpaste from the middle!) As a counterpoint to life’s daily annoyances, make a list of things you love about your partner and share it with them.

Volunteer at the local food pantry in the summer

Food pantries are packed with people wanting to help… at Thanksgiving and Christmas. But people get hungry year-round! Make a difference by signing up to volunteer now. As an extra (but not free) kindness, bring a bag of food with you to donate.

Give someone the benefit of the doubt

How often has someone bumped you, given you a dirty look, or even snapped at you and your first reaction is to be offended? It’s an understandable impulse, but it is so much kinder to not assume the worst about the other person and give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they lost their job, stubbed their toe, or are just having a really horrible day. Spread a little kindness by not returning anger with anger. Find out the daily habits of naturally polite people.

Call the grocery store manager to compliment your checker

When you receive bad service at a business, you may be quick to call and complain. But how quick are you to recognize and compliment stellar service? When someone goes out of their way to help you or goes the extra mile in their job, take a few minutes to let their boss know.

Ask a nearby person to get the cereal off the top shelf at the store for you

Or ask them to hand you a magazine in a waiting room or for a hand up when you fall. It seems counterintuitive but asking a small favor is an act of kindness: People love being able to help others out. It’s a win-win, where everyone feels a little happier afterward. (Plus, you don’t have to climb on the shelves to get your cereal.)

Leave a positive online review for the sandwich shop down the street

Reviews can make or break a business, especially a smaller local one. So when you find the perfect little Mexican restaurant or a stylish boutique, make sure you review them on Google or Yelp and let the world know how great they are. You’re helping the business owner and helping your neighbors find a local gem. It’s one of the random acts of kindness you can do without leaving your home.

Donating Blood.Petri Oeschger/Getty Images

Give a little blood

Blood banks are almost always in need of a fresh supply and for the price of 15 minutes and a needle stick, you could help save a life. If you have a needle phobia or can’t donate blood, you can always volunteer your time at the blood bank, sweeping floors, or handing out cookies and juice.

Put the dishes in the dishwasher

Dishes are such a small thing but since we use them every day the dirty cups, plates, bowls, and silverware accumulate quickly. Do the others in your house a kindness but putting dishes in the dishwasher whenever you see them in the sink—even if they aren’t yours!

Carry a pack of sticky notes and a marker

Want to leave a quick compliment for a coworker, a lunch note for a child, a love letter for a spouse, or even a “You’re doing better than you think you are” boost for a stranger? Carry a pack of sticky notes and a colored marker, so whenever the kind impulse strikes you are ready!

Tell your kid one thing they do really well

As parents, your job is to correct and teach your child—but don’t let those comments outnumber your kind and loving observations. Pointing out a talent your child has, recognizing a chore they completed, or acknowledging a recent success will make them feel awesome in the moment—and that moment may stay with them forever.

Take your shopping cart all the way back to the store

Nothing is more annoying for shoppers or store employees than finding random shopping carts shoved up on curbs, wedged between parked cars, or (worst of all) roaming freely through the parking lot where they might roll into a car door. At the very least put yours securely in a cart corral. But for a real kindness, take the extra 50 steps and walk it back to the store.

Happy excited passenger child girl traveling on the rear vehicle seat.RuslanDashinsky/Getty Images

Set up a neighborhood carpool

Watch out for the environment and the neighborhood kids by setting up carpools for local trips, school runs, soccer teams, and other activities.

Brush up your CPR skills

CPR can be a powerful tool for saving the life of a loved one or stranger—but only if you remember how to do it. Brush up your skills with a refresher course from the Red Cross. While you’re at it, make sure you’ve got a stocked first aid kit in your car and know how to use it. You never know when you’ll need it!

Handwrite and deliver a thank-you note

In this day of email and texting, a hand-written note is a rarity and shows the person took extra thought and care into choosing their words and making sure you got the message. Send a thank-you note to an old teacher, reach out to a college friend, or send a romantic letter to your partner.

Thank a veteran for their service

The next time you see a veteran or an active member of the military, take a few minutes to thank them for their service to our country and for their personal sacrifice. Want to do more? Try one of these ways to help veterans through acts of kindness.

Donate your extra candy

If it’s around Halloween or another candy-filled holiday, donate your extra treats to others in need of a sweet smile. You can give it to Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages to our troops.

Woman showing piece of magnetic fishing game to girl at preschoolCavan Images/Getty Images

Offer to babysit for a friend

Being a new mom or dad is tough and parenting doesn’t get any easier over the next 18 years. Taking your friend’s kids for an hour or two is a wonderful act of kindness and can make the difference between a terrible, horrible, no-good very bad day and peace.

Leave extra coupons on the item at the store

Got a few extra minutes and the weekly ad? Tear out the coupons and leave any you don’t use on the product at the store. It will save someone else a few bucks and bring a smile to their face. It’s like a surprise scavenger hunt where everyone wins.

Let someone merge in front of you on the highway

Road rage can easily overcome your better emotions, especially when you’re in high-pressure driving situations, like jammed freeways. Help keep everyone calm and happy on their commute by letting someone merge in front of you—even if they don’t “deserve” it. It’s quick, easy to do, and it may even help lower your blood pressure too.

Give someone encouragement at the gym

It’s pretty much a fact of life: Everyone feels at least a little self-conscious and awkward at the gym. After all, you’re doing really weird movements while wearing relatively little clothing! Give someone else encouragement and kudos for their hard work by offering a friendly smile, a thumbs up, a helping hand, or a word of encouragement.

Volunteer to be the designated driver

Keep your friends and family safe and happy by making sure they make it home after a night out. By volunteering to be the designated driver once in a while, you offer a valuable service to your pals—and to the public.

Mid adult man using lawn mower for mowing at backyardWestend61/Getty Images

Mow your neighbor’s lawn

You’ve already got the mower out, powered up, and ready to go so why not take a few minutes to mow your neighbor’s stretch that borders yours, too? Or go the extra mile and mow their whole lawn—this is an especially kind service for the elderly, disabled, or single parents.

Pick up trash at the beach

Bring an extra garbage bag on your next outdoor adventure to pick up extra trash, along with your own, as you go. Sure, you didn’t make that mess, but it will just take you a few minutes to clean it up—and make the outdoors a little bit more beautiful for everyone.

Give a stranger a compliment

Giving someone a (non-creepy) compliment—think: “You have a lovely smile,” “You’re really great at your job,” or “I love your shoes”—can make their day. For some inspiration, try these 10 little compliments you should be giving every day.

Offer to take a photo

Next time you’re at a popular tourist spot, an event or gathering, or a picturesque landmark, chances are you’ll spot a group of young (or maybe not-so-young!) people trying to take a selfie, or one member of a group taking pictures of everyone else. Ask them if they’d like you to take a picture of all of them together.

Hold the door

Random acts of kindness don’t get much simpler than this. Rather than letting a door swing behind you when you go through it, see if there’s anyone behind you and hold it open for them.

Clear the table

If you’re at a dinner party, or simply sitting down for a meal with the family, don’t just scoop up your own dishes and be on your way. Making sure everyone is done eating first, of course, take a couple more plates with you on your way to the kitchen. Especially if someone else did the cooking, your fellow diners are sure to appreciate the gesture.

Happy Plus Size Woman Using her Smartphone in Bedroom

Say, “This made me think of you”

Hear a song on the radio that you used to belt out with your old buddies? Drive-by a spot that a family member used to bring you when you were little? It’s easy to take the moment for granted and let it pass, but next time it happens, give the person a call or a text. Tell them what you saw and that it reminded you of great times with them. Maybe they remember it too, maybe they don’t. Either way, you’ve probably just brightened their day.

Use leftovers

Americans throw out exorbitant amounts of food every day. If you can’t eat everything you make in one sitting, don’t toss it. Most foods will keep at least until the next day; many others can last even longer if you freeze them. Not only will this help reduce food waste, but it’ll also save you time and money since you’ll already have a future meal or two ready to go.

Pick up groceries

Next time you make a run to the grocery store or the department store, shoot a text to your family or your roommates asking if there’s anything they’d like you to pick up for them. Keep the receipt so that they can pay you back. They’ll be grateful you saved them the trip!

Help out your mail carrier

If it’s brutally cold or rainy outside, you can imagine it’s probably a rough day to be a postal carrier or garbage collector. So when you see them, offer them a cup of hot chocolate. The same goes for scorching hot days; keep some cold water or lemonade on hand. Or for a covid-19 friendly alternative, place a basket on your porch with some pre-packaged drinks and snacks with a note inviting them to take one.


If someone you know has recently gone through a loss, a hospital stint, or even just sent a kid off to college, check in on them and ask how they’re doing. In addition to the immediate aftermath of the loss, reach out to them after three weeks or a month and let them know you’re still thinking of them. When people go through a tough time, support usually pours in for the first few weeks and then subsides, but the person could still be having a difficult time weeks later and will be sure to appreciate your kind words.

Ask for a recipe

If you’re eating someone else’s cooking and you discover something especially delicious, go above and beyond just telling them how good it tastes. Ask for the recipe! This is the ultimate way to give your compliments to the chef, and they’ll enjoy a nice self-esteem boost.

Full length of businesswomen talking while having lunch at table in officeMaskot/Getty Images

Grab lunch with a new co-worker

The first day at a new job can be nerve-wracking. If there’s a new face in your office, ask if they want to grab lunch with you, or simply offer to show them around the office. Thanks to this simple gesture, they’ll feel comforted knowing that you’re a friendly face.

Swap seats on public transportation

If you’re on a crowded bus, train, or plane, and you see a family get on board and start scanning the crowd for adjacent seats, offer to move so that parents and kids can sit together. They might be too shy to speak up and ask outright, but chances are, they won’t turn down the chance to sit together!

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Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.