We all want to be a little kinder.
But the thing is that sometimes, it feels like a huge task—like we have to do grand gestures to make people happy.
Of course, that’s not true. In fact, the simple everyday acts of kindness can sometimes have more impact than the “grander” ones.
In this article, I will give you 18 simple acts of kindness you can easily do every day.
1) Give a genuine compliment
If you admire someone’s style, say it. If you’re moved by someone’s painting, shoot them an email telling them exactly how it moved you.
Don’t be scared that you’d sound creepy. Trust me—they’d be happy to hear it.
For all we know, that painter might have been insecure about his work all his life and your simple compliment could be the one that convinces them to keep going.
Of course, you have to be genuine. People can smell it when you’re just trying to flatter them…and that wouldn’t be so nice, would it?
2) Open the door for the person behind you
Ahhh. A classic, but it never fails to make people happy.
When someone does this to me, I feel warm inside and think “Awww, humans are awesome.”
It’s a nice feeling when we’re here for each other, even if we’re strangers.
Opening a door for someone is such a small gesture but it can make people feel connected…like we actually care for one another.
This simple act of kindness can—literally or figuratively—lighten the burden of someone just by a little bit, especially if they’re having a particularly bad day.
So go ahead, be a ray of sunshine and hold the door for the one behind you.
3) Change the topic when someone’s getting uncomfortable
There will always be insensitive people—like an aunt who keeps asking when your cousin will get married or when a friend pressures another friend to reveal a secret she’s not yet ready to share.
When you witness these kinds of rude behavior, try changing the topic.
Rescuing someone from uncomfortable situations is a heroic act, and you should not hesitate to do it if there’s a chance.
A word of warning, though. Do it in a classy way or else you’ll be the rude one in everyone’s eyes…and you don’t want that.
4) Let your actions reflect your core values
The examples you find above and below this article are quite easy to do. But if you want things to be more automatic, simply look inward and pay attention to your core values.
What traits do you want in yourself and others?
Do you want compassion above all? Then convert this value into simple acts of kindness.
For example, you can try to be gentle and understanding when someone commits a mistake. Instead of showing your frustration, you might want to comfort them and ask them how you can help next time.
But in order for you to do this, you have to define your core values first. And trust me, it’s not as simple as it seems.
I figured out my five core values with the help of Jeanette Brown, one of the wisest personal and career coaches today.
She created a program that contains practical activities and fun exercises that will help you uncover who you really are as a person—and of course, what your main values are.
If you’re curious, check out her pdf titled Defining Your Values. It’s FREE!
It has helped me design the life that I want, and develop the person I truly want to be. And I’m sure you’ll find it useful, too.
5) Look at someone in the eye when saying “thank you”
Saying thanks is nice, but if you want to make someone’s day, smile and look them in the eye when you say “thank you”.
Doing so makes it more genuine. It’s as if you’re not just saying thanks because you want to be polite or because it’s your habit…but because you’re actually grateful for what they do.
So next time you go to a drive through, don’t just mumble a “thanks’ ‘ after you snatch your paper bag. Look the service crew in the eye, smile, and say thank you. Most of them are overworked and underpaid. It could be the act of kindness that would motivate them to stay in their job.
6) Make a newcomer feel welcome
You know what it feels like to meet a group of people for the first time—it’s like you’re an alien and everyone’s paying attention to your every move.
It’s especially nerve racking if you’re meeting your partner’s family, friends, and colleagues for the first time.
So if your friend is about to introduce their new girlfriend to your friend group, treat them well.
Do your best to make them feel welcome. Give them a warm smile, address them by their nickname…make them feel seen. And when they talk, listen with both ears. If you want to be extra nice, make them the “star of the night” if possible.
7) Cook for others
Sharing food is always a good idea.
When someone offers you donuts, you’d think “Oh wow, I’m special enough to be given donuts.” So go ahead spread the love with your cooking skills.
Try baking some cookies and share it to the people you love—and even to strangers and acquaintances who are willing to give your kitchen experiments a try.
Go knock on your grumpy neighbor’s door and offer them a casserole. I’m sure they’d warm up to you pretty soon.
8) Give favors to your neighbors
Speaking of neighbors, your relationship with them matters a lot. They can turn into your greatest enemy or your friend—and sometimes, if you’re lucky—they can become your family.
So do nurture each one of them.
If it’s not such a hassle for you, offer to water their plants when they’re away. If a neighbor needs some flour, then give them yours.
You live in the same area in this big, big world. With small acts of kindness, you will turn your neighborhood into a home.
9) Go out of your way to return a lost item
Some people live by the motto “Finders, keepers.” I don’t like them. Don’t be one of them.
I’m sure you know how awful it feels to lose something important, so return any item you find even if it would inconvenience you a little.
This is one selfless act that you can do to others.
So if you see an abandoned wallet or any item, do the right thing by finding the owner or by sending it to the police station.
10) Offer someone a ride
If you own a car, offer friends and family who need a ride.
Of course, if they’re heading west and you’re heading east, then you don’t have to do it.
But if you’ll pass by their area anyway, then offer them this small act of kindness. Not only will this save them a few bucks, they’ll be happy you actually care for them.
Now if it becomes a regular thing, then that’s a different story. You’re free to say no. Or you can let them buy gas so it’s fair for you.
Some people abuse other people’s kindness, so protect yourself from that so you won’t burn out.
11) Offer a seat to a person who clearly needs it
Offering a seat to the pregnant or elderly doesn’t necessarily make you kind. We all know we have to do it.
What makes this an act of kindness is when you offer your seat to someone who’s neither of those but is clearly tired, stressed, or having a bad day.
Just being able to sit down can lighten their burden a little, and they will be thankful to you—a kind stranger— for making their day a little better.
12) Be quiet when the situation requires it
Turn down the volume when someone has an important call.
Don’t talk loudly if you know there’s a baby sleeping. Don’t talk so loudly while you’re in the metro.
Being conscious of how your presence and actions affects others is an effortless way of showing kindness.
13) Offer to clean up after a party
When everyone’s leaving, try to ask the host if you can help them clean up. For sure there’s a lot of plates to wash, tables to wipe, and things to sort.
In fact, don’t even wait for them to say yes, go ahead and start cleaning up like it’s your duty.
Hosting a party is quite exhausting, and by doing this, you’re showing the host that they don’t have to do it alone.
14) Always say that the kid is cute
Parents simply adore their children so telling them that their baby is cute would make their hearts melt.
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “What if I really hate kids or I don’t find their kids particularly cute?”
Well then…you can find something else to compliment on. Maybe the kid is smart, funny, or sweet. Maybe the kid is wearing a cool shirt.
And if you really can’t find anything nice to say, you can just smile and be a little bit nicer by not showing how much you dislike being around kids.
15) Tip generously
If you really like someone’s service, don’t just give them $1. You can do better than that!
Make their day by giving them twice or even thrice than what they deserve.
The money you give them will help them financially, for sure. But more than that—it would make them feel good about themselves and what they do…and don’t we all want to feel this way about our work?
16) Ask people how they are (and listen well!)
Sometimes, when we’re feeling blue, all we really need is a person who truly listens. So be this person to others.
Reach out to your loved ones…or even to strangers. Ask them how they are.
And if they open up to you, pay attention. Listen attentively and put all your focus on them.
Many people go through life feeling like no one cares about them, so be kind by letting them share with you about their problems, fears, and even excitement.
Of course, you have to set boundaries. You don’t want people to constantly dump their problems on you. Do it only when you really have the energy to listen and empathize.
17) Give way to someone who’s in a rush
Sometimes, we are a little too protective of ourselves. We’re scared that we’d get scammed or get taken advantage of. We want everything to be fair.
Because of this, we hate rule breakers, especially those people who cut in line.
But if you see that someone is obviously in a hurry—whether you’re at an airport, on the road, or at a pharmacy—let them go ahead of you!
It wouldn’t hurt you too much if you wait five minutes longer. Who knows, you might be saving someone’s life by doing this simple act of kindness.
18) Give a warm smile and hello
You might be rolling your eyes, thinking “Huh? This is pretty basic.”
And indeed it is. But it’s also the one you can easily do to as many people as you want. It costs nothing and you can do it as many times as you want.
I think most of us want to be friendly to each other but we’re too shy. Most of us wait for the other person to smile first…so how about this: I dare you to be the first one to do it.
And if you’re in the mood, you can even start a conversation with them.
Smile at your colleagues, at new acquaintances, at anyone. It’s one simple way to spread love.
This list is not at all exhaustive. There are a million and one ways you can show kindness to others.
But you can figure them out on your own, especially if you know your core values.
Just think “What can someone do to make me a little bit happier?”
Then do just that to the people around you.