Random Acts of Kindness week was in February, but we might all be a little happier if every week included random acts of kindness. Doing something for someone else while expecting nothing in return, makes us feel better, and it makes the other person feel good too. In addition, it can encourage the recipient to pay the kindness forward to someone else. So few of us give purely for the sake of giving (without the incentive of telling others about it, getting thanked, or even getting public recognition), so take a minute and browse this list of random acts of kindness that you can share with a stranger (or even anonymously share with someone you know). You don’t have to spend big to help someone else out; these ideas all will cost $10 or less, and will help make someone else’s day.
As of 2013, eighty-three percent of U.S. adults were drinking coffee with sixty-three percent drinking coffee daily. Americans love their coffee; it tastes good, it smells good, and it gets people through the work day. However, a coffee habit can get expensive, especially for those people who drink it daily. Coffee stores can also be stressful, particularly during peak hours, when lines are long and baristas get overwhelmed. So next time you are waiting in line, consider paying for the order of the person behind you. You can prepay the amount you want to give or wait until they order and then pick up the tab.
2. Fast food
Stories of random acts of kindness at fast food restaurants seem to be abundant lately. Drive-through restaurants are an ideal spot to pay for someone else’s food, and if you really want to do something without being thanked, they provide an easy way to anonymously help someone else out, and then drive away. Fast food bills are usually cheap, and when you get to the payment window often the clerks will already know the cost of the next person’s order, so you can pay it for them. If you do go inside, you can still pay for a stranger’s food, but not so anonymously.
3. Leave a surprise gift
Make time this week to stop by the local dollar store, Target dollar section, or another store that has cheap gifts. Pick up a stack of them, and make it your mission to distribute them to strangers. Buy small gifts and hide them under windshield wipers in the parking lot, or give them to the cashiers and ask them to pass them out to the next ten people who come through the line.
If you would rather give a slightly bigger gift to one person, purchase a $5 or $10 gift and leave it on a stranger’s doorstep. If you want to, include a note that explains that you are giving a gift to be kind (without signing your name). Always choose gifts that are wrapped and that the receiver won’t question the safety of.
4. Send a letter
One of the cheapest, and most meaningful, ways to make a difference, is to send an anonymous letter to someone you know is hurting. The letter can go to a close friend or family member, or an acquaintance, or even someone you read about in the newspaper. Writing a heartfelt, caring, and even consolatory letter, is a truly kind way to comfort someone who is hurting. Consider including a poem or quote that might lift them up. Explain that you care about their suffering, that you are thinking about them, and that they matter. You can do all this for the price of a sheet of paper or a card, an envelope, and a stamp, and your letter might be what that person needs to get up out of bed in the morning.
5. Spread kindness
If you really want to help someone, and you don’t have money to spend, consider offering up a completely free kind act. The random acts of kindness foundation has many ideas for ways to help others, and some of them are completely free. One idea is to smile at five strangers; they may be surprised and even shocked, but most likely even if they don’t smile back right away, they will be thinking about your kindness later on. A small alteration to this act is to smile at people while you are driving. So many people scowl as they drive, and smiling as you make eye contact can help other drivers to be less stressed, and possibly, drive more carefully for a while.
Hopefully you saw something on this list that you would consider giving to someone else. Even when we spend a small amount of money, if we do it to be kind, and not get recognition, we can really make a difference in someone else’s day. Gifts from people we know and care about are great, but a kind act from someone who we don’t even know, can sometimes mean even more.