You only have to step outside to know that the world can be a harsh place at times. Too often, people do not show others kindness which is a shame when you consider the positive impact something as small as a smile can have on someone who is struggling. You never know what is going on in someone’s life, making it all the more important to be kind.
A simple smile or acknowledgment could make all the difference to a person who is feeling isolated or who is having a rotten day. Not only will you be able to give that person just a second of reprieve, but you will also feel positive and good as a result, helping your mood, too.
You don’t necessarily need to make a big effort to show a stranger kindness – sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest impact. Here are five easy ways you can spread kindness to a stranger without necessarily having to go out of your way.
1. Pay it forward
One way you can spread unexpected kindness to someone is to pay it forward. This means paying for something for the person behind you. This could be by paying for coffee of the person behind you in the queue at the coffee shop, or it could be paying for the meal for the car behind you at a drive thru.
Wherever you are, the person behind you will surely be grateful for the small gesture of kindness you’ve shown. You may have even experienced someone paying it forward for you, in which case you’ll be well aware of the smile it can put on someone’s face.
Most people pay it forward when they have received an act of kindness themselves, but others do it simply because they’re feeling generous and want to help out a stranger. The important thing about paying it forward is doing so without expecting anything in return. It’s a super simple thing that could make someone’s day, so if you’ve got a bit of loose change, maybe consider paying it forward.
2. Give someone a compliment
The next way you can show a stranger kindness is to give someone a random compliment. It could be telling a co-worker that their hair looks great, or it could be complimenting the outfit of the person sat next to you on the train. Whatever it is, giving someone a compliment could boost their confidence and their mood massively.
There’s no better feeling than a stranger telling you that you look good or that they like something you’re wearing or doing. You could even tell someone they’re great at their job. No matter the compliment, the impact it can have on someone’s mood and outlook can uplift them greatly, making it well worth it. Best of all, complimenting someone is completely free and requires next to no effort on your part.
3. Donate to charity
One act of kindness that can go deeper than a smile on a face is donating to charity. We often hear news stories about things that have happened, such as the tsunami that shook Japan in 2011, or the drought in Somalia that took hold earlier this year (find out more here). Natural disasters and conflict often make the news, but after a short while, they’re overshadowed, leaving those in need feeling like the world has forgotten about them.
By donating to charity – no matter the cause – you’re affirming to people in need that you are thinking about them and that you’re prepared to do something to help them. The great thing about giving to charity is that you’ll get the warm, fuzzy feeling associated with donating, but someone else will benefit from your act of kindness.
Whether you choose to support a water appeal or donate to an animal shelter, you can donate to a cause that you’re passionate about, and whatever it is, it will have a positive impact. If you can, donate to charity and spread some kindness to strangers. You can do a one-off donation, or you can set up regular payments if you’re in a position to give regularly.
4. Start a conversation
It’s thought that around 33% of adults experience loneliness worldwide. This means you likely know someone who is lonely, if not yourself. It’s an awful feeling that can leave people isolated and miserable, and it can be the trigger for things like depression or social anxiety, both of which are debilitating.
The Covid-19 pandemic has done nothing if not amplify how many people are feeling lonely, and for some people, especially those who live alone or work from home, doing the weekly shop or going to the store is their only form of social interaction. This can often be the case for elderly people, too. With this in mind, saying hello to someone and asking how they are could make all the difference.
They might not have anyone to talk to at home, so a two minute conversation about how they are or what they’re buying could uplift them greatly. Of course, not everyone will have the time or the desire to talk to a stranger, but most people are polite and appreciate kind conversation.
Far too many people, especially city dwellers, are wrapped up their own bubble and don’t take note of who is around them. A simple hello could go a long way and is an easy way to spread kindness to a stranger.
5. Leave a positive note
The fifth and final way you can spread kindness to a stranger is to leave a note. It could be a note to your mail person to tell them you hope they have a great day and that you appreciate all they do, or it could be to tell your co-worker they’re doing a great job if you’re aware they’re feeling stressed. A small post in note with a couple of words of affirmation on can really reassure someone and put a smile of their face, and it takes no more than a few seconds for you to do.
These five acts of kindness are small but mighty, and will certainly spread some much needed positivity.