How to Practice Random Acts of Kindness

Random acts of kindness are a means by which we make a deliberate attempt to brighten another person's day by doing something thoughtful, nice, and caring. Kindness is a way of showing others that they count and that, even in the face of hostility and selfishness, you're making a stand for kindness.

Originally associated with Anne Herbert, who is said to have once written "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty" on a place mat in a restaurant,[1] this concept has become an organized celebration through various events around the world, as well as referring to a general call to action in the name of kindness. And you don't need to wait for someone else to initiate a day or week of celebrations to practice random acts of kindness; you can put them into play any time you like!

By doing kind acts for others, you're helping to create kindness-aware communities that value generosity of spirit, action, and kindness toward others as essential parts of a healthy community. Here are some suggestions for encouraging others with your random acts of kindness.


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    Be kind. Kindness as an attitude is infectious. When you're willing to share your kindness, others will be inspired by your example and think about doing something as kind themselves. Fan that flame by being kind to everyone.
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    Be thoughtful. Random acts of kindness can be shown through thoughtfulness about the needs of others. How many times do you wish someone could have been more thoughtful before they did or said something? Try to be an example of this for others to follow.
    • Put someone else first. If you get to the grocery store check-out line at the same time as someone else, you can decide to smile and wave them through first.
    • When you're stuck in traffic and the last thing you want to do is let a car get in front of you, just remember that somebody else had to let you in, and repay the favor to the next person!
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    Use your manners as a form of kindness. Manners aren't dead, they've just been forgotten in many ways. Yet, manners are the bedrock of courteous and kind relations and their use is an indication of respect for others. Hold doors open for others, hold an umbrella over someone in the rain, and be on time for everyone you've promised to meet.
    • Say thank you. Whenever anyone does something for you, be grateful and let them know it.
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    Give out compliments generously. There's usually an awkward silence when you're stuck in an elevator or waiting in a queue with a stranger. Instead of staring at the floor, find something you like about the other person and compliment him/her on it. Not only will it make him/her feel good, it just might kick off a conversation with a new friend.
    • Surprise your neighbor by telling him or her how pretty he/she looks today.
    • Tell your boss how truly clever he/she is – and mean it!
    • Tell your assistant how truly clever he/she is and mean it. Praise any subordinate who's stayed late or done anything extra on the job honestly. Notice those things.
    • Praise your child for her/his skills and good thinking. Make it something out of the blue that you've noticed rather than run-of-the-mill schoolwork or chores.
    • Write a handwritten note to a friend or family member telling them how much you care about them.
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    Think about people who quietly make a difference to your community and thank them. Think of all the people in your life whose faces and names you'll never know but who serve and protect you day after day.
    • Send some prepackaged treats like donuts or pastries to your local police station, paramedics, or fire department, with a card letting them know how much you appreciate their service to the community. But make sure to also acknowledge the people we take more for granted that make things tick- consider thanking your garbage man or janitor. (Since homemade desserts could be contaminated, unless they know you such homemade treats probably won't be eaten, so it's best to buy something from a reputable bakery.)
    • Send your child's clean and good condition toys and books to a local preschool. Say thank you to the early childhood carers and teachers who do so much for young children.
    • Pop over to your neighbor's house with a freshly baked cake. Yes, your neighbors are an important part of your community and they make a difference just by being about. Acknowledge their importance and role in your life.
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    Cheer up the lonely. Lonely people are everywhere, in all walks of life, of all ages. Helping lonely people to feel wanted is a hugely rewarding random act of kindness.
    • Write a letter to a stranger. It only takes a few minutes to write, but a letter can make someone else's day, or even their week. Think of all the people who are lonely, isolated or just in need of cheering up: soldiers fighting overseas, kids in juvenile detention centers or elderly people in nursing homes. Do a simple search online and you'll find services that will provide you with list of people who'd love to hear from you.
    • Pay for someone else's coffee in the queue. If they've got time, offer them a chat.
    • Visit a retirement home and spend time talking to the residents. You could offer to read to them, sing for them, or even get them involved in writing poems, stories, or a playing on a wiki!
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    Volunteer. Offer helping hands. Do you ever see homeless people and feel overwhelmed by your inability to make a difference? Even if you can't save them all, you can do a lot with one small act. Buy a pair of gloves or dig up an old blanket, and give them to someone who's living in the cold streets or to any organization that serves the homeless.
    • Clean up without being asked. The next time you see someone littering, don't just shake your head and look the other way. Pick up the litter and throw it away, and while you're at it, look around the street for any other trash that needs to be removed. If you take a walk, take a plastic grocery bag so you can collect the trash that would otherwise just make you unhappy, and know that you're doing a random act of kindness for the people who will come through after you!
    • Make up food parcels for people in need.
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    Shower a coworker with kindness. Offer to take them out to lunch or shout them a beer after work. Finish off something for them so they can go home early for their kid's birthday party.
    • If your coworker has had a horrible day, buy them some flowers or give them a warm hug to make them feel better. Everyone needs just a little extra love sometimes.
    • Take freshly baked muffins or cookies in to work and share them with your coworkers, staff, and others.
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    Share a little wealth around. Why not surprise someone completely by paying for something they were expecting to pay for? Here are some fun suggestions:
    • Pay for the coffee and cake for the table next to yours at the local cafe.
    • Pay for the movie tickets of the people in the line behind you.
    • Pay for the entrance fee for some children and their parents waiting to get into the zoo.
    • Pay for the parking for the car next to yours. Feed the meter if it's allowed to stop someone from getting a ticket!
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    Give your family a break. There are lots of kind things you can do for your loved ones. Some of these can include giving them a break from the more mundane chores around the house so that they can do something different for a change.
    • Make them breakfast in bed.
    • Wash their car(s).
    • Do the weeding while a family member's at work.
    • Promise to do the dishes for a week – without complaining!
    • Print out a photo of them and write exactly why it's so special to you, why they're so special to you. Tell them how that moment shows how important they are to the whole world
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    Hold a friends night-in. Order pizza for everyone, and play board games or watch movies together. Treat them to a special cake at the end in honor of the friendships that each of you share together.
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    Send a message. Write down your favorite poem on happiness or jot down some thoughts on hope, then leave it somewhere for a stranger to find. You could also leave a message in a favorite book you've enjoyed, letting someone else know they can have the book to read and hope that they love it as much as you did; leave the book somewhere for them to find.
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    Forgive somebody. You'd be amazed at the ripple effect an ounce of forgiveness can have in your life and in the lives of others. Unburden yourself of the past and think kind thoughts again about that person.
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    Share a smile. When meeting a new person, or even chatting with an old one, express joy. Show that you're happy to be with them, and that they make you happy.
    • If you meet someone grumpy and frowning, give them your smile. Ask them if they're having a hard day, commiserate with them, and wish them better luck from this point on. Don't see it as their bad mood reflecting negatively on you; instead, make it about how you can help them to feel better.
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    Expect nothing. The greatest act of kindness is the one that is freely given because you care about another person and want them to be happy and you don't expect anything in return. The thing about kindness is that it has its own rewards and will improve your sense of well-being and happiness; what more could you possibly want?


  • To love others, you must love yourself.
  • In North America, an unofficial holiday for Random Acts of Kindness is held on 17 February. In New Zealand, R.A.K. Day is held on the first day of spring each year.

Sources and Citations

  1. Wikipedia, Random act of kindness,

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