On the whole, I’ve noticed how amazing it is that performing acts of kindness can reduce stress and anxiety and create joy and make life happier. Random acts of kindness are awesome, but so are acts of kindness that you plan, and make a part of your everyday life.
If you are stressed, anxious, depressed, or unhappy, spend time cheering someone else up. If you feel uninspired or stuck, make it your goal to inspire someone else. Feeling broke or poor? Find a truly hungry person and buy them even an inexpensive meal. Feeling lonely? Volunteer some time to sit with a shut-in or read to children at a library. Feeling anxious? Remember this saying: “when you are nervous, focus on service!” It really works. When you focus on improving someone else’s life, even if it is only in a small way, it is an amazing thing – you improve your own life, by default! How awesome is that?
Here are 10 ideas for acts of kindness that you can do to make your own life happier.
There are schools of thought that suggest that when you tithe (money, time, or talent), you reap the rewards in improved income, and a better, more prosperous life, overall. I happen to be one of the people who buy into that school of thought. It may seem counter-intuitive, but I have seen it work in my life. When I give regularly to charity, whether it is a percentage of my income or a percentage of my time, I always improve my income and my bottom line. It never fails.
Aside from that tangible benefit (why not do an experiment and see if works that way in your life?), giving generously improves your life in other ways. It creates a sense of satisfaction and joy and takes your mind off of your own problems for a while. When you are focused on helping others, it is really hard to dwell on your own life and any problems you may have. Giving generously really is a way to make your life happier!
Never Show Up Empty-Handed
This is a little something I read about a long time ago, and it really never fails to make me feel good about myself and the way I exist in the world. Whenever you are visiting someone, always bring them a gift. It can be something tangible (a bottle of wine, some flowers, a small gift, or a hand-written note), or if that isn’t feasible, for whatever reason, bring them a compliment, or a genuinely warm hug or handshake.
I think the way this improves your life is that it gets you to start being considerate of the people you interact with, and that helps you focus on what is truly important. It makes you stop and think about them and think of a way to show them that you appreciate them. We go through our day-to-day lives and get caught up in the hustle and bustle all of the time, rarely stopping to appreciate the good things. We tend to take people for granted. It’s natural. But, if you really want to do something to improve your own life, start taking time to honestly consider the people you interact with, and be appreciative of the contribution they make to your life. Then show them that appreciation!
If someone is generous enough to give you their time or open their home or office to you for a visit, take a few moments to show them that they are important and that you appreciate them. Never show up empty-handed!
Start doing this. I promise you will feel your life improve. You will see how it can make your life happier!
Let Someone Go In Front of You in Line
This seems like an odd thing, right? You might say that you can see how doing this would improve someone else’s life, but you’re a busy person with lots to get done and no time for lines as it is… how does doing this improve your life?
Well, let me tell you! First of all, there is very little in anyone’s life that is so time sensitive that a few extra minutes standing in line is going to do irrevocable harm. If being somewhere else is that important, why are you there in the first place? So, knowing that the world won’t come to an end if you have to wait an extra minute or even an extra five minutes, why wouldn’t you want to do this small act of kindness for a fellow human being?
Think about the mom who is stressed out, just trying to get to the end of the traumatic event of shopping with the kids in tow. Or think about the elderly person who might be aching and tired from the effort of moving through the store to pick up their few groceries for the week. Think about a person who has a lousy job that they have to work, just to keep their family intact or the person who has been treated poorly by their spouse or their boss. Or just think about anyone who might have an illness, or a crisis in their life, but doesn’t want to show it to the world. At any given moment, any one of these people could be behind you in line.
What would it do for their life to just have one stranger, in one unexpected moment, do one little act of kindness for them? It could make a huge difference! And knowing that there is a possibility that if YOU are the one that made that difference in their life, by doing one simple thing… wouldn’t that make you feel good yourself? Wouldn’t feeling good more often make an improvement in your life? Wouldn’t it make your life happier? The answer is yes. It would.
If you want an added bonus… in the few extra minutes you are standing in line, take several deep, calming breaths and think about something that makes you feel relaxed and happy. You really do add extra value to your day when you pause for a few moments to consciously breathe and relax!
Compliment at Least One Person Daily
Make it a genuine compliment.
This is another one of those that may have you asking, “What’s in it for me?” Again, there is just something about making other people feel good that makes you feel good. Plus, if you have any tendencies towards too much negativity, doing this will make you focus on something positive, at least once a day! And guess what? That will ultimately make your life happier!
If you want a real challenge and an even bigger improvement in your life, do this with every single person you talk to in a day, every day. Even find some way to compliment the people you find unpleasant or do not like.
Leave a Bigger Tip
Yes. Even if they don’t “deserve” it.
Whatever you normally leave for a tip, leave a little bigger one. This one is hard for some of us because we so badly want to reward and punish others for their treatment of us. However, if you blindly assume only the best, and always give the benefit of the doubt, you’ll find that you can shrug off the mantle of “the judge” and you’ll feel lighter. When you feel lighter, your life becomes easier. So do whatever you can to make yourself feel lighter.
The thing is – you have no idea what your server’s life is like. You have no idea the circumstances that create their day-to-day existence, and you have no idea what kind of day they are having or what is going on outside of your view of them. I promise you that no matter what things may appear like to you at any given moment, everyone is doing the best they can. Everyone. Period.
Leave a bigger tip. Even if you think they don’t deserve it. It will make your life happier. Really.
Write a Letter of Thanks
Think of a teacher or other adult that inspired or positively influenced you when you were young. Write them a letter of thanks. Or, think of a friend or loved one in your life currently that makes your life better in some way. If possible, send them the letter.
The thing about this one is that it has the potential to have a ripple effect and you will not be the only one whose life gets better by your decision to do this one thing. The obvious benefits of doing this are that you get to reflect on something positive in your life, and if you send the letter, you will probably make someone’s day (if not their year!) with one simple act.
The less obvious benefits of this one are in the ripple effect it can have. The one person you wrote the letter to may possibly be inspired to be kinder to others or maybe even write their own letter. You may never know how many lives you will positively affect. You’ll make your life happier, and help to make so many others’ lives happier!
Say Thanks to as Many People as You Can
This one is a pretty easy one. Getting into the habit of saying “thank you” to anyone and everyone is such a game-changer for your happiness quotient. When you remember to verbalize your thanks, it helps you to become more aware of the things you are grateful for. When you focus on gratitude, it not only warms your heart and makes you feel better in the moment, but it also starts to have a snowball effect. The more you notice things you can be grateful for, the more things to be grateful for happen in your life.
Personally, I like to say “thank you so much” instead of just “thank you”, especially to anyone I encounter in a service position. I feel like it takes it a little bit out of the realm of the obligatory or routine thing to say and possibly makes a slightly bigger impact on the person hearing the thanks.
I not only thank strangers, like cashiers, servers, repair people, tellers, and so on, for anything they do for me, I try to make sure I thank my friends and loved ones regularly. When my partner makes me a cup of coffee, I make sure to say “thank you.” When my friend spends time with me, talking or having lunch, I make sure to say “thank you.” When my father or my son or my daughter does something kind for me, I make sure to say “thank you.” I want all of the people in my life to know that I notice and appreciate them and what they add to my life. It’s really cool how doing that makes my life so much happier!
Write Thank You Notes
It’s so nice to receive a thank you note from someone in your life. And not just for wedding or birthday gifts, but for other things, too. Knowing how much I like it when I receive a thank you note, I like to write thank you notes, too. In this day and age, I may not mail a thank you note out, I may text or email it, but I try to take a few extra moments sometimes to let others know that I especially appreciated something they said or did. It makes me feel happy when I do that. And just like saying thank you more often, it helps to remind me of what I have to be grateful for.
A bonus tip: write letters or emails to someone’s boss or company who has gone above and beyond for you, in the service world. Many people are quick to write a complaint letter, but really, how often do we do the opposite and write a letter of thanks or praise for someone who has gone out of their way to make our experience better? Even writing an extra “Thank you for the great service!” on the bill or receipt could hit the mark to help make someone else’s life better. Which, of course, in turn, makes our own life happier!
As A Rule, Performing Acts of Kindness Does Make Your Own Life Happier
Doing small, kind acts regularly for others impacts your life in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. Not only do you start feeling good more often, but you’ll probably be amazed at how much more often you’ll be at the receiving end of others’ small, kind acts. It’s absolutely amazing how the Universe works like that! You’ll see!