20 small acts of kindness that have a big impact (how many do you do?)

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If we could just make a bit of an effort to be nicer to each other, the world would be a much better place.

The truth is that it’s easier than you think. The list of small acts of kindness is endless. We don’t even realize how seemingly insignificant gestures can in fact have a big impact.

Here’s a list of 20 small acts of kindness that can really make a big difference in someone’s day. How many do you recognize?

Let’s take a look:

1) Take a moment to talk to the people around you

We seem to be in a constant hurry to get somewhere – we don’t have time for small talk anymore.

And what makes it worse is the disconnect created by technology – we sometimes forget what it means to interact with people who’re not in our tight social circle.

Life is short, so the next time you see your neighbor, stop and ask them how they’re doing. When the postman brings your mail, tell him that you appreciate his hard work and offer him a drink. When you’re at the butcher, don’t be scared to make some small talk, throw in a joke or two.

It may not seem like much, but your actions could really make someone’s day. I know that when I’m feeling blue and I go to the farmer’s market and stop to chat with the people around me, I come home with a smile on my face. 

2) Let someone go in line first

Nobody likes to stand in line, I know. But imagine how pleasantly surprised someone will be when you tell them they can go in front of you.

I especially like to let elderly people in front of me, parents with small kids, and people with just a few items. I can wait a couple of extra minutes and if I can make things just a little bit easier for them, then I’m happy.

3) Give up your seat on the bus

Giving up your seat to anyone is an act of kindness, but it can have an especially big impact on the people that really need it: the elderly, pregnant women, parents with small kids, people carrying a heavy load, or even just someone that looks tired.

4) Go grocery shopping for your elderly neighbor

My grandma is 82 and lives alone, so I know how difficult it can be for people in her position.

It’s not always easy for the elderly to go out and get what they need – especially in extreme weather conditions.

So, if you have someone like my grandma living next door to you, next time you’re going grocery shopping, why not offer to buy their groceries as well? It could help them more than you realize.

5) Donate blood

Sadly, not everyone can donate blood, which is why it’s super important that people who can – do.

It’s the ultimate selfless act.

Think about it, your blood could literally be the difference between someone living or dying. All it takes is about half an hour of your time.

6) Hold the door open for someone

It used to be considered common courtesy to hold the door open for other people, but now people just like to push their way through – each man for himself.

Sometimes I’ll hold the door for someone and end up waiting for the ten people behind them to come through before I can be on my way, but that’s ok, hopefully, someone will appreciate my gesture.

7) Leave a generous tip

Look, in some parts of the world, tipping is expected, in others, it’s welcome but not a must.

But wherever you are, if you’ve enjoyed your drink or your meal and your waiter was friendly, why not be generous?

The truth is that working in the service industry can be pretty tough, so whenever you can afford to, give a little extra.

8) Give items you don’t need to charity

Please don’t throw away stuff that you don’t need.

If you want to be kind, give your stuff to charity. Whether it’s clothes you no longer wear, some old furniture, or china you no longer use, it could mean the world to someone who has nothing.

9) Offer to babysit for overwhelmed parents

I recently had a drink with a friend who has two kids under 5 and she looked exhausted.

She told me that the only time she and her husband ever get a break is when the kids sleep over at her mom’s place, but that doesn’t happen too often because her mom’s not that young and small kids require a lot of energy.

So, naturally, I told her to bring the little rascals over to my place any time she wanted a break. We can make cookies, play with my dogs, and do some coloring, while mommy and daddy have a date night or maybe just catch up on their sleep.

10) Surprise your parents with an unexpected visit

Some people see their parents for lunch or dinner once a week, for others, it’s once a month, others still, it’s a couple of times a year.

But life is too short not to see the people who gave us life more often. So why not give your parents an unexpected visit?

You know they miss you.

11) Call your grandparents to see how they’re doing

When was the last time you called your grandparents?

I only have one grandparent left and I make sure to speak to her a few times a week and to see her at least once a week.

She’s old and she’s lonely and a phone call from me makes a huge difference in her day.

12) Show that you’re thankful

It’s nice to say thank you, but you know what’s even better? Showing someone that you’re grateful.

Think about it: Would you prefer someone to text you, “Thanks for all your help mate!” or to get some homemade cookies from them?

As you can see, it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. A small effort on your part to show your appreciation will go a long way and is sure to put a smile on someone’s face.

13) Don’t be shy to compliment people

If you like someone’s cooking, you appreciate the way they draw, or you think that they have a great sense of humor – tell them.

Don’t be shy about complimenting people because everyone likes a compliment when it’s genuine.

14) Surprise someone with flowers for no reason

This can be your wife, mother, grandmother, neighbor, or even a complete stranger – but trust me – 99% of us who get flowers “just because” will be over the moon! The remaining 1% just don’t like flowers.

And of course, it’s not just about flowers… It can be chocolates or any small, unexpected, and thoughtful gift.

15) Bake your co-workers some cookies

This is a really nice gesture that can bring people together.

People working in an office often have a one-sided relationship and something like this can work as an ice-breaker. It gives you a chance to get to know each other a little bit better.

You can’t go wrong with cookies, can you? Make me a batch and I’ll be your friend for life.

16) Pay for coffee

When you’re out for a coffee with your friend, don’t split the bill. Instead, treat your friend.

You won’t go broke because of your small act of kindness.

And the best part? You’ll be doing something nice for someone you care about.

17) Smile at a stranger

Sometimes I feel like people have forgotten how to smile. It’s all part of that big rush we’re all in.

Well, smiling can be seen as a small act of kindness.

It’s pretty simple: Take a minute to make eye contact with the person and allow your lips to curve upwards.

Now, it may feel odd at first but after a few seconds you’ll start to feel strangely good, and then, amazingly, the person you smiled at will smile back at you and you’ll both be filled with a sensation of warmth and goodness.

18) If you see someone in distress – ask if they’re ok

Have you noticed how people tend to pass by strangers in distress?

For example, if someone is crying on the street, it’s super rare to see someone stop and ask them if they’re ok.

It’s as if there’s something infectious or embarrassing about their tears.

Well, I’ve found myself in tears while walking on the street and I know how it feels. That’s why I always stop and ask the person if they’re ok.

At times like that it’s good to know that you’re not alone, even if you don’t feel like telling your life story to a complete stranger.

19) Offer to walk your friend’s dog

Hey, as an owner of not one, but two dogs, I can tell you that I could use a break from walking them from time to time.

20) Buy a homeless person something to eat and drink

Whatever the reason for someone’s homelessness is, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a hard life.

So if someone asks you for money and you’re scared they’ll buy booze or drugs with it, then do what I do – go to the nearest store or fast food joint and get them something to eat and drink.

Easy-peasy.

Jelena Dincic

Jelena has a background in photography and film-making and has spent the last few years as a content editor and copywriter. Jelena is a citizen of the world who is passionate about travel and learning about new cultures. She’s a foodie who loves to cook. And, as an art lover, she is always experimenting with new art mediums. When she’s not at her computer, she’s usually out and about in some forest with her dogs.

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