️I’m obsessed with tiny projects at the moment (such as small acts of kindness).
Teenie tiny tasks make stuff seem achievable. They make something huge and overwhelming—like being kind to other humans—seem *possible*.
Plus, small acts of kindness have a ripple effect. You offer kindness to someone… it feels good… so they offer it to someone else.
It’s contagious. Like a good kind of virus. 🦠
Brightening someone’s day can be super easy. While it’s not your responsibility to make anyone feel good, it can be nice to spread a lil’ joy and magic as you go about your day.
Here are a few ways to do it.
1. Smile at a stranger
On the street, in a coffee shop, at work. Some days strangers are the only people I interact with other than my partner, and on those days a smile can really lift my spirits.
It gives me a sense of togetherness, even though we don’t know each other. This small act provides a quick hit of what Dr Ned Hallowell calls “Vitamin Connect”.
(Side note: don’t offer up a fake smile if you’re not in a space where you can—or want—to give someone a grin. See tip 10, if that’s the case.)
2. Send a love note
Tell the people you love how much you appreciate them, without expecting anything in return. Be specific about the things they do that contribute to your life, like the way they accept you no matter what or give you great advice even when it’s hard to hear.
We assume people know how we feel about them, but that’s not always true. Make it known.
3. Perform a tiny act of service
Tidy up, clean the dishes, or surprise someone by bringing food over (especially if they’re struggling with their mental health). I witnessed the power of this when my partner’s family was grieving a loss. I cooked a ton of food which went down insanely well since the practical things can be a huge help.
My mum also has a lovely habit of sending vegan care packages to me whenever I’m ill, which is super cute.
4. Leave a treat in your neighbour’s letterbox
Leave an anonymous surprise like an uplifting note to wish them a great day, a flyer for an event you think they’d like, or, again, food.
During the pandemic, I started dropping brownies into my neighbour’s letterbox whenever I made a big batch, along with a note detailing the allergens (so I didn’t accidentally kill anyone).
5. Donate one thing you don’t use anymore
…Or buy an extra can of food when you do your weekly shop and donate it to a food bank. After working in the third sector for most of my career, I assure you this stuff makes a MASSIVE difference.
If you own something you no longer use, pay it forward by donating it to a charity who can give it to someone who will. I promise it’ll make somebody’s day.
6. Ask a random question
Instead of asking, “how are you?”, try asking a new question. I’ve been practicing this lately by asking people I’ve just met, “what makes you feel most alive?”. Their responses have sparked some of the most interesting and nourishing conversations I’ve ever had.
It’s also a fun way to get to know what makes someone tick, even if you’ve known them for a while.
7. Listen when people talk
Stay present, make eye contact, and be curious. Just listen and pay attention. Being heard is rare. People are usually too busy planning their response or thinking about other things to really listen to the people around them.
Listen deeply to someone for 5 minutes and see what a difference it makes to how they respond to you.
8. Give a lil’ gift
…Even if it’s free. My partner’s love language is ‘gifts’, so he loves receiving thoughtful presents.
Since I know this about him, I make a conscious effort to create things for him (like paintings) and occasionally stop by his favourite coffee shop on my morning walk to get him a latte. Cheap but effective!
9. Offer a heartfelt compliment
If you love your barista’s coral nail varnish or your cashier’s bicep tattoo, tell them. Let them know what you enjoy about it.
Some days, the best interactions I have are with strangers I’ve complimented. Just make sure it’s genuine.
10. Treat yourself
You can only make someone else’s day if yours is *already* made. Buy yourself flowers, make your favourite dinner (or order it in), or take yourself on a self-care date.
My introvert-friendly way to do this is to clear my schedule, order in vegan sushi, create messy art while listening to cheesy pop music, then run myself a hot bath with Epsom salts and read a good book. Bliss.