With New Year’s just a few days away, I wanted to take some time to talk about something very close to my heart. Something I hope to do more of next year, and I humbly request you join me as well.
It’s a concept all of us are familiar with, and I’ve found usually something people intend to do more, but never quite get around to.
Small, forward acts of kindness.
Let’s be honest here- the world has felt like a very heavy place over the last few years. No matter how much you try to avoid it to save your peace of mind, we’re constantly bombarded with 24-hour news cycles, and dramatic headlines the second you’re on the internet. If you pay any attention to people when you’re out and about- nearly everyone is stressed and overwhelmed. Financial issues, world events, climate issues, and really bad illnesses.
I’ve heard from so many people lately that life is hard and heavy, and it makes me sad. Life is never meant to be perfect, that’s not the point, but even a general sense of happiness feels so far away for a lot of people. Communities are spread thin.
I want to spread more Joy next year. I want to spread more peace, happiness, and strength. There are so many simple things we can do to help those in our community. To help friends, family, co-workers, and even strangers. There are lots of kind gestures that can be done for very little money too.
Can you commit to one small act of kindness each month next year?
Cook an inexpensive but nourishing meal for someone you know that’s exhausted and living on fast food, or dealing with mental health issues that can prevent them from taking better care of themselves. Bake cookies or cupcakes for anyone you know that could use a little treat.
Reach out to local shelters and food banks- what do they need? Most shelters don’t need food- they need simple things like socks, toiletries, and sanitary items like pads and tampons. Is that something you could do just once next year? Find these items on sale, and donate them. Some places will ask for donations (or volunteer help) to put together backpacks of necessary goods for the homeless- things like toothpaste, toothbrushes, clean socks, and non-perishable food.
If you’re someone that frequents coffee shops, can you pay for the drink the person behind you will be getting? Or get small gift cards to give out to teachers (if you have kids in school), or anyone you feel could use a small pick me up and a smile? Even if people don’t drink coffee, they could get hot chocolate, tea, or something to eat.
For those that are overworked, or dealing with long-term illness, can you go help them around their house or apartment? Maybe it’s cleaning their house, yard work, or helping to paint a room.
Can you plant a tree? Or a flowering bush or plant? Donate to organizations that plant trees after wildfires or to combat deforestation.
Reach out to teachers you know- is there anything they need for their classroom? Do nursing homes need anything you could donate or purchase? What about local community centers? There are so many places out there that live on donations- like animal shelters! Animal shelters are always in need of old towels and blankets. Do you have any of those lying around?
Can you compliment people more? Write a letter to a friend telling them how grateful you are for them and their friendship. Or to your spouse, children, or parents. Tell people that you love them, that they are special, and make your life better because they are in it.
Find a community program that is helping to pick up trash from local parks, beaches, or trails. All this requires from you is some volunteer hours. Plus this gets you outside and helps you and your community enjoy the outdoors more.
Can you wash someone’s car, like an elderly neighbor? Or when the weather is good- help someone clean up their garden?
If you get deliveries a lot, can you leave a little box for the driver? A bottle of water and some small snacks, or a small gift card to get lunch?
It doesn’t take much for us to do things to help our community, to give to people that have less than us. I’m not saying to wipe out your bank account with donations or make it harder for yourself if you’re already struggling. But there are endless little things each of us can do to put a smile on someone’s face, to help them find even a moment of joy.
I’d love to hear your ideas for small acts of kindness and ways to pay it forward to those in need! If you’ve done something in the past, or have a great idea for something to do next year, please, please share in the comments!