99 Random Acts of Kindness to Spread Some Joy
Before the pandemic, a small act of kindness went a long way. Now, whenever another human extends an act of generosity towards me, without expecting anything in return, I am nearly brought to tears. After isolation and loss, kindness is a lifeline.
But what can we actually do right now to help people in our community? Below, you’ll find tips for random acts of kindness you can practice at home, in your neighborhood, and out in the greater world. These kindnesses require a giving up or sharing of oneself, with no strings attached and no ulterior motives.
If it sounds scary, it can be! Being kind is vulnerable. But I gently encourage you to lean into the outer edges of your comfort zone and help someone—you never know how far a small act of good can go. And if you don’t have the bandwidth to help someone else right now (understandable), keep scrolling and choose an act of kindness for yourself.
Acts of Kindness At Home
1. Refill the filtered water pitcher, or make more soda water and store it in the fridge.
2. If you don’t usually make dinner, plan and make a delicious and nutritious meal for your partner and/or family. Plan on doing cleanup duty, too.
3. Offer to walk around the block with someone during a mid-day break (or, if it’s not yet ideal to do so due to COVID, offer to be on the phone with them). Taking breaks is easier when there’s a friend to support!
4. Patch or darn your partner’s beloved, well-worn garments. If you’re good at it, offer to do it for friends, so no one has to buy new.
5. Be extra patient and helpful with someone who is a beginner at something you’re a pro at. This could be baking, building with wooden blocks, or developing a website.
6. Find a local shop that sells things you need most and support them instead of a big-box store.
7. If you live with friends or roommates, consider cooking enough food to share the next time you make a meal.
8. Give your sibling a genuine compliment, especially if you’re often annoyed with one another. Small niceties can go a long way in building a long-lasting relationship.
9. When you run out of a commonly used ingredient, start a grocery list with that on it. This makes it easier for the person who ends up shopping, even if it’s you.
10. For anyone working or schooling from home (including yourself), tidy up their workspace by wiping down the surface, cleaning the computer screen, re-homing all the pens to a holder, and replacing the burnt-out candle. Just be sure to not throw away anything important.
11. On that note—bring a glass of water to anyone who’s working or schooling from home. Remind them to hydrate and take a quick stretch break.
12. Send a note to your child’s teacher or caretaker to let them know how much you appreciate them.
13. Offer to help someone clean; it may be difficult to feel capable of doing on your own.
14. Put a “thank you, USPS” sign in your window for your mail person to see.
15. Unload the dishwasher when you notice that it’s clean.
16. Wipe down the sink after you wash your face and brush your teeth, so it’s sparkly clean for the next person who uses it.
17. Find a culturally appropriate cleansing ritual for your space (i.e., one that does not take sacred or endangered plants from a culture that is not your own). Maybe this is just opening up your windows and playing music!
18. Practice active listening—instead of focusing on what you’ll say next, make eye contact with your loved one and truly hear what they say.
19. Memorize how your cohabitants take their coffee or tea and make them the perfect cup. Or remember their drink order and pick up a beverage for them from their favorite cafe spontaneously.
Acts of Kindness For Friends & Neighbors
20. Create a small community library for your neighborhood or apartment building and stock it with books you love but no longer need.
21. Call your local councilperson to discuss an issue you see at play in your neighborhood and ask to see more actions taken to protect your neighbors. This could be homelessness, racism, or pollution—the list goes on.
22. Conversely, reach out to a representative who is doing a good job of enacting policies that help your community. Thank them for the impactful work they’re doing, and encourage them to keep going.
23. Baking cookies for yourself? Make a double batch and drop the extras off to friends, family, and neighbors.
24. Leave flowers on a friend’s doorstep.
25. Put your friend’s anniversaries (weddings, births, passings) in your phone’s calendar to remind you each year. Text or call the people to send them extra love on that day.
26. Offer to cancel or reschedule plans if someone you’re meeting with seems overwhelmed.
27. Tell a friend/family member you are thinking of them and sending them love and positive spirits.
28. If you can afford to (and only if you can!), offer to help an individual do something that you do professionally. Teach people to make spreadsheets, do simple home repairs, start a blog, or budget for the month.
29. If someone gets interrupted or spoken over during a meeting or a hangout, speak up and circle back to the point they were trying to make—give them the floor that was taken from them.
30. Share a supportive comment on a friend’s social media post (even if they’re only a virtual friend!)
31. Send your friend a gift card via email to their favorite coffee shop or lunch go-to.
32. Take pictures of adventures you share with others; it always feels nice to be seen as a subject of a photograph. Or, offer to take a picture for someone else if they’re trying to take a selfie.
33. Ask a friend if there are any phone calls you can make for them or errands you can run—take a little bit off their to-do list.
34. If you’re heading to the grocery store, text your neighbor to see if there’s anything they need you to pick up.
35. If you know someone with kids, offer to spend time with them crafting or going to the park so the parents can take a few moments to breathe. If you can’t physically be there, offer to read the kids a bedtime story over FaceTime.
36. Write a recommendation on LinkedIn for a supportive colleague.
37. Make a Spotify playlist for a friend to brighten their day.
38. Give someone your streaming login, or offer to share yours with someone you know who may be struggling financially.
39. Extend an offer to mow your neighbor’s lawn, shovel the snow on their driveway, or rake leaves. You might be doing it for your own yard, anyway!
40. Contact one of your old teachers to let them know how influential and impactful their class was for you.
41. Share about how a coworker helped you in front of your manager, their employees, or in front of the whole team.
42. Watch out for your own safety while crossing a street—but also look out for someone else who might be distracted. Keep your neighbors safe.
43. Clean up loose litter on your walk and recycle what you can.
44. Write a letter to your grandparent (or someone else’s!) to brighten their day.
45. Be an accountability buddy for a friend who needs it. Whether it’s meditating for 30 days, reading a book, or even just drinking a few glasses of water each day, it’s easier to do it for yourself when others are doing it with you.
46. Call up someone in your life who might be lonely. Ask them how they’re *really* doing and quietly listen to what they say without trying to fix or solve.
47. Donate vacation days or sick days to coworkers who might need it more.
48. Send a book, movie, or show recommendation to a friend you know who would love it.
49. Order a book you think a friend would like, and have it shipped to their door! (You can skip Amazon by shopping at bookshop.org or Better World Books).
50. Help a friend who has been asking for advice to curate their closet—either together or virtually.
51. If you wear the same size as someone and admire a certain piece in your wardrobe, wash it up and gift it to them! No occasion, just because.
52. Keep a pair of gloves handy and, if you come across a public recycle/trash combo bin, sort the recyclables out of the trash.
53. If you use online therapy or meditation apps, gift a free trial to a friend who is curious about it—many programs offer referral programs that help new users decide if it’s right for them.
Acts of Kindness For Strangers
54. Corral an errant shopping cart or two to protect parked cars and to help the cart wranglers.
55. Always keep $5 (or more if you can!) on hand in case you pass by someone in need.
56. Leave a Yelp review for your favorite local business.
57. If you’re in school, invite someone who sits alone to join you at your table. Try to get to know them!
58. Reach out to an author whose book you admired. Or, write a GoodReads review of a book by a new or emerging author, or post about it on social media to help spread the word.
59. Wish the kind people who spray hand sanitizer and wipe our grocery carts a "thank you" and "have a good day" as you leave.
60. Leave a comment on an article you enjoyed! As an editor’s note—we read every comment, and so often, they brighten our whole days.
61. If you play video games online, help another player out of a sticky situation without expecting anything in return. Or, offer to show beginners the ropes.
62. If means allow, slip some cash under a parking ticket. You never know how much of an impact a single unexpected ticket can have on a budget, so offer a stranger a little wiggle room.
63. Let the person in line with you at the grocery store go ahead of you—it doesn’t always have to be if they have a smaller cart of items.
64. When you learn someone’s name, use it. If you’re not sure about the pronunciation, ask immediately for clarification and say it until you get it right. Keep saying it right, and remind others of the correct pronunciation, too! This goes for pronouns and deadnames, too.
65. Can’t pay for the next customer's whole order? Offer to put your change towards the next person’s order instead.
66. Keep some N-95 masks and hand sanitizer on-hand and ask people without if they need them.
67. Purchase a good directly from its maker or a vegetable directly from its grower. You can do this via farmer’s markets, local shops, or finding a maker’s website or Instagram and messaging them directly (instead of shops like Amazon or Etsy, which might take a percentage). Be sure to leave a review if you can!
68. Send a card to someone who needs a little pick-me-up via this subreddit.
69. Take time after a customer service request to fill out the satisfaction survey—praise the person who helped you by name so their team and managers can recognize them.
70. Offer to grab a coffee (even virtually) with someone who is interested in learning more about how you got your job.
71. Meet someone who’s new to town? Offer up recommendations for the best restaurants or even services like mechanics, therapists, or lawn care.
72. Tell someone how cute their dog is when you pass them walking together (especially since smiling at strangers is more difficult with masks on).
73. Ask someone who compliments your dog if they would like to pet them (if it’s safe to do so).
74. Offer to pay the toll for the car (or cars) behind you.
75. Familiarize yourself with the holidays you don’t celebrate and share an appropriate wish with the people who do celebrate them.
76. Find out the names of people you regularly see, like at the grocery store or in your apartment building, and greet them by name.
77. Donate high-quality, nutritious food to your community fridge, or explore how to start one.
78. Go out of your way to tell someone’s manager (or parents/guardians if they’re a young student) that they are doing great work. Be specific about their achievements!
79. Let a pedestrian cross in front of your car, and don’t start creeping into the crosswalk while they’re still in the road.
80. Draw a silly picture or write a funny limerick and leave it somewhere for a stranger or loved one to find.
81. Let a merging car into your lane with plenty of room and a wave and smile if you can muster it.
82. Strike up a friendly conversation with a cashier, especially if you’ve seen customers before you act rudely. Ask them how their day is going.
83. If you’re leaving your parking spot, wave down a person who’s looking for parking to let them know you’re going. If the lot requires a fee and you have extra time on your ticket, give it to them.
84. Slow down and hold the door open for the person behind you.
85. Leave spare change at the laundromat for the next person waiting to do a load.
86. Without causing too much disturbance, pick some wildflowers (dandelions work!) and create a little floral arrangement. Give it to a friend, or leave it on a stranger’s windshield.
Acts of Kindness For Yourself
87. Spend 5 minutes moisturizing your body after your shower (because you deserve to be kind to yourself, too).
88. Give yourself an hour of indulgence—if you want to be on a screen, do it. If you want to be outside, lace up your shoes. Whatever small thing feels indulgent to you, do it!
89. Make your bed extra nicely, throw pillows and all.
90. Take 60 seconds of focused breath; no matter how overwhelmed you feel in the moment, this is a true treat.
91. Write a gratitude list of things you are grateful for about yourself—are you tenacious, friendly, or intelligent? Write it down, and celebrate yourself.
92. Make a backup of all your important records and organize any paperwork. Give yourself the gift of knowing where all the essentials are!
93. Cancel plans weighing on you and take yourself out on a solo date—perhaps to the park with a picnic basket and your favorite snacks.
94. Print out some of your favorite photos of you doing the things you love. Frame them around your house as a reminder of the joy that exists in your life.
95. If means allow, skip the free movies on Netflix and rent a new release online from your favorite movie website. You deserve to watch the latest Blockbuster hit on your couch every now and then!
96. Offer yourself the gift of a bedtime routine and treat your body to the rest it needs
97. Speak up for yourself, even when it’s hard or feels uncomfortable. Just as others need advocating for, sometimes we do too.
98. Do the dishes before bed so you can wake up to a clean kitchen.
99. Or, leave the dishes in the sink tonight. It’s okay to spend your last few minutes of the evening engaging in rest.