99 Random Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Better Place

It's cool to be kind.
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99 Random Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Better Place

New Year's has come and gone, and many of us have already let our good resolutions slip in favor of the daily grind. But it's never too late to make small changes, and random acts of kindness are a great place to start.

Research has shown that the mere act of giving to others can be beneficial, not just to the receiver, but also to the giver. And no act of kindness is too small to begin spreading a bit of cheer. If you're low on time, maybe a monetary gift is the best way to make a difference. If finances are tight, remember that it really is the thought that counts, and many acts of kindness cost nothing at all.

To help you get inspired, we've got 99 different random acts of kindness you can try. Not only have we organized them according to three major themes, but we've also attempted to rank them in order of difficulty. If you're just starting out, consider choosing something from the top of one of the categories. If you want to make an even bigger impact, look lower on the list.

Whichever act you choose, bear in mind that to be in the true spirit of giving, your offers should be truly genuine and truly selfless. Don't just make offers to walk a friend's dog or babysit for free: organize a time to make good on the offer, and don't expect anything in return except a 'thank you.'

Money

  1. Insert a few coins into someone else's parking meter.
  2. Leave a stack of quarters in the laundry room.
  3. Put some change into the vending machine.
  4. Leave a tip in the tip jar.
  5. When the cashier asks if you want to donate a dollar to a cause, say yes.
  6. Give a person panhandling some spare change – and a smile.
  7. Leave ten singles in random spots where people might stumble upon them.
  8. Pay someone else's bus fare.
  9. Purchase a sandwich and a book and give it to a person in need.
  10. Pay for coffee for the customer behind you in line at your favorite coffee shop.
  11. Bring donuts or bagels in for your coworkers.
  12. Buy crayons and coloring books and donate them to the local children's hospital.
  13. Give a micro-loan through Kiva.
  14. When you finish a book, mail it to a friend you think would enjoy it too.
  15. Buy a plant to brighten up your workspace, and take care of it so that everyone can enjoy it.
  16. Donate a box of feminine hygiene products or eco-friendly diapers to a homeless shelter.
  17. Leave a generous tip for your waiter.
  18. Send a friend flowers for no reason.
  19. Buy an extra umbrella to keep at work, and offer it to someone without one on a rainy day.
  20. Give a donation to your local library.
  21. Ask a food pantry what they actually need. Shop for and donate those items.
  22. Buy a $20 gift card to your friend's favorite massage parlor or nail salon, to offset the cost of her next appointment.
  23. Pick up the tab at your next lunch with friends.
  24. Donate $20 per month to a trusted charity, like the NAACP or the Animal Welfare Institute.
  25. Subscribe a friend to a magazine or newspaper you know she likes.
  26. Buy school supplies for a teacher.
  27. Buy a new coat for someone in need.
  28. Pay at the pump for the person behind you. 
  29. Drop a nice bottle of wine off at your neighbor's.
  30. Purchase new toys and donate them to a family shelter.
  31. Round up some friends and invest in a new computer or software for your local library.
  32. Venmo your brother his student loan payment this month.
  33. Send your mom a "just because" gift.

Time

  1. Hold the door to the elevator.
  2. Let someone cut in front of you in line.
  3. Let someone merge in front of you.
  4. Help someone cross the street.
  5. Put clothing you try on in a store back on the hanger.
  6. Fill out a customer satisfaction survey.
  7. Call your parents.
  8. Carry someone's groceries to their car for them.
  9. Write a recommendation for a former colleague on LinkedIn.
  10. Write a thank you note to a teacher who had a positive influence on you.
  11. Bake a batch of cookies or muffins for your local fire department.
  12. Write a card to a sick child with Cards for Hospitalized Kids.
  13. Send a handwritten note to someone you don't talk to that often.
  14. Leave a positive review of a local business online.
  15. Help your host clean up after the party is over.
  16. Shovel a neighbor's driveway.
  17. Give blood.
  18. Help someone with a flat tire.
  19. Take the kids out, and let your spouse have a day alone – no responsibilities or expectations.
  20. Mow your neighbor's lawn.
  21. Do the chore you know your partner hates without being asked.
  22. Offer your babysitting services for an evening so that your friends can have a date night.
  23. Plant a tree.
  24. Spend a Saturday working at a soup kitchen.
  25. Read to the elderly.
  26. Volunteer to tutor local students.
  27. Join a beach cleanup.
  28. Plan a time to help a friend with a home improvement project she's been talking about forever, like organizing her attic or steam-cleaning her carpet.
  29. Organize a day of service at your office.
  30. Canvas for a political candidate you believe in.
  31. Offer your professional services – like web design, copy editing, or organizing – to a friend or acquaintance for free.
  32. Do a 5K for a good cause.
  33. Grow out and donate your hair to Locks of Love.

Thought

  1. Smile.
  2. Put your phone away while talking with your friends, so you can give them your full attention.
  3. Leave a nice comment on someone's social media profile.
  4. Ask how someone is. Listen to the answer.
  5. Send someone a link to a song you think they'd like.
  6. Give up your seat on the bus or subway.
  7. Offer to take a photo for tourists.
  8. Do the dishes when they're not yours.
  9. Leave a nice note on someone's car.
  10. Let a customer-facing person's manager know they're doing a great job.
  11. Compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
  12. Help someone struggling to get a stroller or bag up or down the stairs.
  13. Sign up to become an organ donor.
  14. Resist the urge to interrupt.
  15. Send a positive text member to someone in your phone.
  16. Cut out an article from the newspaper that makes you think of someone, and mail them the clipping.
  17. Check in with friends who have lost parents on Mother's and Father's Days.
  18. Learn the names of people who work in your office building, like the front desk manager or cleaning staff. Make a point of saying hello to them.
  19. The next time you're cooking a casserole or chili, cook double and deliver a batch to a friend.
  20. Be the designated driver.
  21. Shut down gossiping when you hear it by saying something nice about the person people are badmouthing.
  22. Offer a bottle of cold water or a cup of hot coffee to your mail carrier.
  23. Find a way to draw in a colleague or friend who doesn't include themselves in conversation easily.
  24. Clear out your closet, and donate pieces you don't wear anymore to a charity.
  25. Pop by a busy friend's house and offer to walk her dog.
  26. Don't wait for someone you know is going through a tough time to ask for help. Ask, "How can I help?" but also offer concrete suggestions.
  27. Carpool to work.
  28. Call a friend the next time you're at the grocery store, and see if you can pick anything up for them.
  29. Take the initiative to get your building composting.
  30. Take stock of your friendships, and ask your friends if their emotional needs are being met. Listen to the answer.
  31. Write down 10 reasons you love your spouse/friend/child and give the list to him or her.
  32. Adopt a rescue pet.
  33. Forgive someone, and let go of your anger.

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