10 Acts of Kindness To Change the World

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In this article, I’m gong to share 10 to change your world.Do you sometimes find yourself a bit down?  Or just knocked down by life?

Here in Chicago, IL, we have experienced the full blows of winter.  Even though I love cold weather, I can sometimes fall prey to the winter blues.  And so, I’ve decided to continue on with some prescriptions for the winter blah’s.

I’ve written the last few weeks about some happiness enhancing strategies from the field of positive psychology.

If you’ve missed some of the strategies, it’s okay, because you can catch up by reading the articles below:

Live Life to the Full

Optimism: Key to Success

Learn Two Secrets of Being Happy

This week I’m going to share a fourth happiness enhancing strategy: practicing acts of kindness.

Chris again :)

A Christian Perspective

Because I’m writing as a Christian, I would like to share some Scripture from the Bible about practicing acts of kindness.

God’s Love

I John 4:19 states, “We love, because He first loved us.”  If you read the parable of the prodigal son from the Gospels, you will know that you are reading my story.  I have failed and fallen short in so many ways in my life, and yet God has shown me grace and love in countless ways.  When I think about the ways in which He has loved me, even though I was so undeserving, it creates a heart of gratitude, and a wish to reach out and show that love to others around me.

The Command

Jesus Christ summed up what He felt were the most important commands in all of Scripture.  A wise Jewish teacher came to him and questioned him as to what the greatest/most important commandment in the Jewish Scriptures was.

Jesus replied, in Matthew 22: 36-40:

 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Because of the answers I’ve found, I want nothing more than to obey God.  In doing so, I attain my greatest happiness, because I have joy that I am doing what God created me to do.

And so, having given my own personal reasons for pursuing acts of kindness, I am going to share 10 acts of kindness that you can practice.  I believe that practicing these acts of kindness without any wish for recognition or praise is the best way to do this.  You can do these acts of kindness spontaneously, or you can plan for them.

I including some inspirational along the way to urge you to incorporate this positive practice into your life.

Random Acts of Kindness

Help Someone For Free

A good character is the best tombstone.  Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered.  Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.  ~Charles H. Spurgeon

When we’re doing something for ourselves, or if we’re getting paid to do a task, we have an easy time putting time and effort into our work.  How about doing the same kind of work, but for free?  You can do a job like mowing the lawn, cleaning someone’s house, or babysitting for a friend.  Surprise them by doing it for free!  No strings attached.

Read to a Child

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.  ~Seneca

Do you have children of your own?  Take some time to read a story to them!  If you don’t have children, consider doing this for a niece or nephew.  Or, you can join my mother!  She is retired, but has found time to volunteer to read to children in neighboring schools who are struggling with their literacy skills.  Here’s an article that shows you how you can become involved locally.

Write A Note of Appreciation to a Friend or Relative

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.  ~Leo Buscaglia

Too many times we fail to communicate our heartfelt love or appreciation to a friend or relative.  Consider writing a thank you card or letter to these people in your life.  You will never regret it, and it may turn someone’s life around!

Cook A Meal For Someone

When I was young, I admired clever people.  Now that I am old, I admire kind people.  ~Abraham Joshua Heschel

Do you know a friend or neighbor who is sick, or busy with a new baby or a sick child?  Or do you have new neighbors who have recently moved in?  Bring someone a meal!  It communicates kindness, and reduces stress!

Bring Treats Into Work

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.  ~Plato

I’ve been impressed by many kind co-workers at my workplace over the past few years.  Many of them will bake coffee cake, or buy bagels, or bring in healthy snacks for the team.  It brightens the day and changes the world of everyone who receives this kindness.

Nominate Someone At Work or In Your Community

A kind word is like a Spring day.  ~Russian Proverb

Have you ever received a letter of thanks from a customer or co-worker?  It can really make your day!  Take time to notice a job well done, either at your work, or at any other place of business in your community.  Is there a receptionist or banker who does their work with a cheerful attitude and with excellence?  Make sure their boss knows about it!  Do you have a co-worker who has brought excellence to their work recently?  Toot their horn!  Let their boss know about it!

Make and Give Carepacks to the Homeless

What this world needs is a new kind of army – the army of the kind.  ~Cleveland Amory

Every day, we brush our teeth and comb our hair.  We have warm socks and gloves to keep us warm in cold weather.

The homeless do not have these things.  Often, they are barely getting by on a day-to-day basis.

Consider putting together a number of carepacks and distributing them to the homeless.

You can also get in touch with homeless shelters and find out what kind of donations or products they are low on.  Use this homeless shelter directory to find homeless shelters in your area that you can partner with.

Donate One Dollar

You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.  ~John Wooden

How many times are you greeted outside a grocery store, or in the midst of traffic, or even at work by someone who is raising funds for a worthwhile cause?  Many times we pass these opportunities by because we feel like we just don’t have enough money.  But even $1 will make a bigger difference than you know.  You will never know how much $1 will be multiplied in peoples’ lives because you gave it!

Help Third World Businesses Succeed

Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up.  ~Jesse Jackson

I’m going to highlight Kiva, an organization that provides micro-finance loans to businesses in third world countries.  I just visited their site, and the good news is that all their entrepreneurs are fully funded!  However, you can go a step further and donate to a business.  You will be making a huge difference in ending poverty and hunger in some part of the world.

Feed A Starving Child

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.  ~George Washington Carver

Feed My Starving Children is a Christian organization with the following vision:

With God’s help Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) will strive to eliminate starvation in children throughout the world by helping to instill compassion in people to hear and respond to the cries of those in need.

Often, when I give money to charitable organizations, I want to make sure that the leadership is going to put the money to good use, and that they are accountable in how they spend the money.  Feed My Starving Children publishes its financial reports on its site.  Also, per the site,  a single meal costs only 24 cents to produce, and 94 percent of total donations goes directly toward the food program.

I’ve talked to many families in the Chicago area who’ve had the opportunity to model acts of kindness to their own kids by taking the family to a Mobile Pack event.  This is an event where your family and other volunteers will pack meals for children across the country and across the world, so that there will be one less hungry child around the world.  Talk about changing lives!

Acts of Kindness Resources

Kindness Quotes and Sayings: This is where I found all the quotes for this blog post, so I’m giving credit where credit is due :)

Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a site that can help you put acts of kindness to work in your life as a continuing positive practice.  Many of the ideas for this post came from this site.

Random Acts of Kindness, by the editors of Conari Press (2002), contains many more ideas you can apply in your life.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  I was truly inspired as I researched the quotes and the ideas.  You and I can change the world this week by practicing these random acts of kindess :)


photo: IndyDina with Mr. Wonderful on Flickr

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Comments

  1. says

    What an inspirational article Stephen! I have just one thing to add to your list – smile and say thank you more … neither costs a penny, but they can really uplift a heart and make someone’s day. Thanks!
    marquita herald recently posted…You are a Master StorytellerMy Profile

  2. says

    Hi Stephen,

    What a great article! I love these ideas for random acts of kindness! I think this whole “random acts of kindness” thing is a mindset. Ideally, these things would automatically be part of our lives and we would do them anyway as one child of God to another. But these days we get so caught up in our own “stuff” and in survival, that it is not second nature, and we need reminders. Your article is a great reminder and idea-generator. Thanks for sharing!
    Pastor Sherry recently posted…Spiritual Life: Experiencing God’s Love in the BibleMy Profile

    • says

      Pastor Sherry, thanks for the encouragement. I am definitely one who tends toward busy-ness and forgetting about others around me. If I can draw on His help, I’m sure I’ll do a better job of loving others around me.

    • says

      Peter, thank you for sharing your example of random acts of kindness in your community and while traveling. The world’s a better place because of you!

    • says

      Tim, it’s exemplary that you are taking action versus just reading about it. Now I have to look in the mirror and do the same :)

  3. says

    Your post had inspired me to do more good things to other people. And because of that, rather than making promises to do good things, I will just show my kindness through actions without expecting something in return. Thank you so much for this heart touching post.
    Candice Michelle recently posted…mortgage singaporeMy Profile

    • says

      Candice, you’re welcome! And thanks for your resolution: it’s a good reminder for me to show my love through actions versus just words.

  4. says

    Steve, about the winter blah’s… I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here (an hour north of Edmonton Alberta) on the shortest day of the year, the sun rises shortly after 9:00 AM and sets around 4:15 PM. That’s not a lot of sunlight. So even if you don’t mind the cold, all that darkness could be contributing to the blah’s.

    I love Isaiah 58:6-11, and particularly v.10. “And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday.” When I am feeling depressed, the last thing I want to do is give of myself to others, yet that is the very thing the Lord says will will lift the darkness from me!

    Willena Flewelling
    Willena Flewelling recently posted…David J Schwartz – How to Produce Only Positive, Productive ThoughtsMy Profile

    • says

      Willena, what a great passage of Scripture. That’s one of my favorites as well. Sometimes I feel that I should not do an act of kindness if I’m thinking I’ll get something out of it, even if it’s just that “good feeling.” However, Scripture is using those incentives to motivate us to do good to others in this verse. Thanks a lot for sharing :)

  5. says

    I find that I am overwhelmed with surprise these days when someone does something out of kindness. For me, every time I go to Aldi’s, I leave the quarter in the cart and hand the cart to the next person, telling them to keep their quarter. This past week, I saw someone do the same and I was really happy. I did not care if it was their own choice or who started it, but some people really don’t have a quarter. And even asking someone for a quarter when you do not have one… it is like something sacrilege with some people that they get irate. I decided when I saw that happen one day to just give the person the cart and I told the other person off. It’s just 25 cents! Now I make it a habit to leave the quarter everytime. Maybe someone needs it or not, but its only 25 cents. A little bit can help in the most unusual way.
    Nile recently posted…WordPress Pages Versus Posts, Which to ChooseMy Profile

    • says

      Nile, that’s such a great example of paying it forward. Another great idea is to pay for someone behind you, whether at McDonald’s, Startbucks, or somewhere else.

  6. says

    that’s a great aim
    i wish that all people read this post
    thank you for writing it stephen

  7. says

    Very inspirational ! My husband and I decided about 3 years ago to do mission work. One day, we stepped out from our comfort zone and then everything started to align and we have been doing it ever since. Believe it or not, we feel more blessed because of the people we meet and help than anything else. To see these children grow spiritually in these remote places and create a strong bond with them is priceless.
    alicia@yboggle recently posted…Comment on yBoggle Travel by Benefiting From Discount Cruise Prices | Article ShopMy Profile

    • says

      Alicia, congratulations on stepping out of your comfort zone to serve others! It is in giving that we receive.

  8. Anna says

    Such an inspiration. Every Christmas I go with my sister to an orphan houses and we donate cloths, sweets and spend a whole day with kids! It is pity that we do that only for Christmas:(
    Anna recently posted…veneers before and afterMy Profile

  9. says

    Hi Steve,
    Your post was very enlightening…There are so many things we can do as random acts of kindness. You give wonderful ideas to step up and act out of the kindness of our hearts. Friday, my son came home telling me he was invited to a Birthday party. He went ahead saying, I’ll buy a card and slip twenty dollars in it. I had a spontaneous reaction and said; “would you like me to make a pastel for your friend”?
    My son was so pleased and knew right away what he wanted the artwork to be. He went to his computer and printed a picture of a character of a very popular online story that kids are reading. I did the pastel and the whole time felt good about taking the time to do so.
    We purchased a frame and my son went to the birthday party feeling happy and so impatient to give his friend the pastel… He told me last night she was speechless went she got it…LOL …

    It feels great to make others happy…
    Nathalie Villeneuve recently posted…Don’t Stifle Your Cash-Pulling CreativityMy Profile

    • says

      Nathalie, what a great story. You used your gifts to bless both your son and his friend. Thanks for sharing your generosity with the rest of us :)

  10. says

    Hi Steve,
    Being kind and generous can be only good not only for the world and the people you help but yourself too since by giving without expecting to get something back or helping people who need your help actually makes you feel better and make you a better human being. It’s not only that, as they say if you want to get you have to give first, so if you follow the path of giving and being positive in life you will be rewarded in many ways throuht your life…
    Kostas@Generate Income recently posted…How to Write Content for Search Engines Without Losing ReadersMy Profile

  11. says

    Random acts of kindness has always been a way that everyone on planet can give to a charity. Without a price tag or a dollar amount attached. Sometimes the smallest things can go a long way to help give to others in need. Christian Charitable giving and asset based giving is further increasing one’s giving efforts.
    Christian Giving recently posted…Charitable gift annuity: The gift that gives backMy Profile

  12. says

    I am going to commit three random acts of kindness for someone else on Valentine’s Day. I hope to make their day by letting them know they are loved in ways big and small. I recall how much fun it was to hand out Valentine’s Day cards as a kid. Perhaps I will send and give cards to my friends, co-workers, neighbors or even strangers in a retirement home.

    A Course In Miracles says that “The only thing that can be lacking in any situation is that which you are not giving.”

    Want more love? Give more love.
    Rachel Lavern@Live for Success recently posted…Who is the REAL You? (Part 2)My Profile

  13. says

    Hi Stephen, these are all great ideas. And like most great ideas, simple to implement. How easy it is, for instance, to keep a dollar bill or two in your pocket instead of your wallet, and plan on giving it to the next person who asks for it.

    Not only does it help them out, but your heart grows each time you do that one simple thing.
    Michael recently posted…The Yellow HouseMy Profile

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