Did you know that to give the cheapest and easiest gift in the world, you don’t even need to step foot in a shop? But what is it? Your smile! By smiling we automatically bring more kindness into our lives, and to the lives of others too. And can’t we all do with more kindness on the daily?
Aside from making us feel a little warmer and fuzzier inside, there are also scientific benefits to both showing and receiving more compassion. According to studies, performing a simple act of kindness fires up the pleasure centres of our brains, and can increase levels of the happy hormone serotonin. Witnessing acts of kindness is also thought to boost our levels of oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone’, which itself can lower blood pressure, boost our self-esteem and leave us feeling more optimistic. Need some inspiration? Dive into our 50 ways to be kinder to others.
1. Smile at strangers
Human connection is a powerful thing and can make us feel instantly uplifted, even with something as simple as a smile from a passerby.
2. Say hello to somebody new
Especially in bigger groups, it can feel daunting to be the new person. So make a deal with yourself that you’ll always be the first to reach out and say hello to a new face at work or a party. It’ll go a long way to helping them feel welcomed.
3. Just listen
Sometimes, all we need is a friend to hear us out. Try not to interrupt the next time someone needs to offload and resist the urge to immediately problem-solve.
4. Ask more questions
It feels great when somebody takes an interest in how we’re really doing, so next time you chat with loved ones make a point of asking more questions about them. It’ll help make small talk with strangers feel more meaningful too.
5. Remember little details
Try to make a mental note of personal little details when friends or colleagues mention them, and follow up at a later date. It’s a great feeling when other people remember things that are important to us.
6. Bring someone in to the conversation
See someone struggling to be heard in a group? Make space for quieter personalities by asking them directly for their thoughts on the topic, or throwing a relevant question their way so they can get involved too.
7. Step in
If you see a person being mistreated or overlooked, step in and say something. It’s always great to know somebody else has our back during a challenging time.
8. Walk someone’s dog
Sometimes there’s just not enough hours in the day. Offering to walk a friend’s dog is a great way to lighten their load, but if you suspect they’ll be reluctant to accept help, let them know how much you’d appreciate the motivation to exercise too. Win win.
9. Share knowledge
The workplace can be competitive, but sharing advice or knowledge with colleagues makes for a much more open and friendlier environment.
10. Make dinner for a friend
Know someone who’s had a rough week? Make them a tasty dinner and drop it at their doorstep so they can take the night off. Sending a delicious take-out delivery works too!
11. Let somebody through in traffic
If it’s safe to do so, why not let another car through in heavy traffic? They’ll appreciate the gesture and hopefully remember to pay it forward themselves next time.
12. Offer to take a picture
When you see a group or couple struggling to fit everyone in a picture, offer to step in and take the snap. You’ll be helping to capture a special moment they may cherish for years to come.
13. Donate to a charity
Whether it’s supporting a charity financially or sending items you no longer need to an organisation that’ll put them to good use, sharing what we have is a special kindness indeed.
14. Give more compliments
Paying someone a compliment is an easy way to spread little bursts of happiness - quite literally. According to science, receiving compliments releases the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin in our brains. “The best bit is that by receiving an act of kindness a rush of serotonin is released and this will likely lead the recipient to do something kind, also creating a chain reaction of kindness,” says Chris Dreyfus-Gibson, founder of holistic hub, Zentrify. Read more about how to give and receive loving compliments.
15. Leave a review
Positive reviews can make a huge difference to small businesses that thrive on reputation. So if you’ve had a great experience, share it with the world by leaving a glowing review on their website or social media pages.
16. Support local food banks
Many supermarkets now have drop-off points, so you can buy a few extra groceries while you’re doing your shop and easily donate them to a local food bank. Alternatively, find out what your local food banks are short on and donate directly.
17. Get the door
If you see somebody carrying bags, pushing a pram or just coming up behind you, hold the door open to make their day that little bit easier.
18. Hold the lift
See somebody running to catch the same lift? Push the hold button to give them a chance to jump in.
19. Post a positive comment
Leave a supportive comment on a friend’s social post, or if you’ve read something online that you really enjoyed, let the creator know how great it was.
20. Give blood
If you’re able to, make time to give blood at a local donation centre. Health services always need live-saving donations, particularly if you have a rare blood type.
21. Become an organ donor
Are you on the organ donation register? It’s easy to check and could be the ultimate gift for somebody with a life-threatening condition.
22. Fundraise for a cause
Even if you don’t have much to give financially, you can help to raise awareness for important causes by sharing information and helping with fundraising efforts.
23. Leave a tip
From cab rides to waiters, leaving a generous tip will be an instant boost for anyone working in the service industry.
24. Lend a hand
When you see someone struggling with bags on the bus, or perhaps readying themselves to heave a heavy suitcase or baby buggy up a flight of stairs, ask if you can lend a hand and share the load.
25. Keep the elderly company
Loneliness is a growing concern among older people who may live alone and feel isolated. Try and spend more time chatting with older relatives, or volunteer with local befriending schemes to connect with older people in your community.
26. Be on time
If you’ve set a time to meet up with a friend, prioritise them and show up on time. It’ll let them know they’re important to you.
27. Say thank you
Whether it’s a delivery driver dropping off your parcel or a friend who’s helped you out, a heartfelt thank you is an easy way to show your appreciation.
28. Thoughtful gifts
Surprise a loved one with a small but thoughtful gift. Whether it’s their favourite snack or something you saw that reminded you of them, it’ll let them know they’re in your thoughts.
29. Forget the gossip
Heard a rumour about somebody at work? Do them a kindness by not passing it on.
30. Check your biases
We all have hidden preconceptions about people, places or activities buried in our brains. While it may not be our fault they’re there, it is our responsibility to pay attention to them when they rise and unlearn these biases.
31. Read outside your experience
If you love to read, try and explore books and stories written about experiences outside of your own. Whether it’s by authors from different backgrounds or genres you’re not naturally drawn to, it’ll help you learn more about the world and other people.
32. See the good in people
Not everyone will be your ideal company, but choosing to focus on the positives and keeping an open mind will help you to see the good in others.
33. Be patient when travelling
Whether it’s a slow walker ahead of you or somebody taking longer than usual at a ticket barrier, remember that some of us just need a little more time to get things done.
34. Admit when you’re wrong
It can be hard to admit when we’re wrong about something, but doing so with good grace and a little humour can go a long way.
35. Celebrate other people’s wins
Not everyone feels comfortable blowing their own trumpet, so when you see a friend or colleague succeeding, help to celebrate their success.
36. See the other side
When you’re caught in a disagreement, often the most productive thing to do is put yourself in the other person’s shoes. You may not agree with their view, but it’ll help them feel heard and valued if you can see their side of the issue.
37. Give credit
If somebody helped you achieve something at work, or you’ve noticed a colleague not getting the credit they deserve, give them a public shout out to let them know they’re appreciated.
38. Show loved ones affection
Affection releases oxytocin in the brain, which helps to reduce stress and boost our mood. So if your loved ones are comfortable with hugs or even a pat on the arm, don’t hold back.
39. Offer to babysit
Know a parent who could use a little time to themselves? Offer to take the kids out for the day or babysit while they enjoy an evening out.
40. Do a coffee run
Volunteer more often to do a coffee run or make a round of tea. Everyones love an unexpected little pick-me-up.
41. Bring the sweet treats
Whether you bake a homemade loaf of banana bread or pick up a packet of cookies, treat friends or colleagues to a surprise sweet treat.
42. Offer up your seat
Some find it awkward to ask for a seat on the train, even when they really need one. If you see somebody who looks like they may need a seat more than you do, catch their eye and offer up yours.
43. Send a care package
If a loved one has been having a tough time, pack up a few treats you know they’ll enjoy and send a personalised care package in the post.
44. Respect boundaries
It’s important to listen to others when they set boundaries, and learn to respect what they’re comfortable with. It could be as simple as giving a friend some space when they feel overwhelmed, or not pushing that extra glass of wine on somebody at a gathering.
45. Learn people’s names
Names are an important part of our identities, so make an effort to remember the names of people you’ve met before, or ensure you’re correctly pronouncing the names of new people you meet.
46. Shop with kindness
Many companies partner with initiatives working to help people around the world. Use your spending power to support these, such as our Goodie Bags which are handmade by women in the slums of Mumbai.
47. Eat locally
Small and local business have had a tough time lately, so show some love by shopping and eating in your local area. You’ll also be doing the environment a kindness by reducing your carbon footprint.
48. Plant some greenery
Whether you opt for a tree, some shrubbery or bee-friendly flowers, you’ll be helping to improve air quality, adding to wildlife habitats and growing something lovely for others to look at.
49. Look after yourself
As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty pot. So make sure you look after yourself so that you can be there for others when it matters.
50. Pass it on
One small act of kindness can inspire another, so add to the chain by sharing these tips and passing the kindness on.