The world would be a better place if more people were kinder. And while it's, of course, lovely and acceptable to show a little kindness to a stranger who may need some, you don't have to go looking for people to treat kindly, you can just as easily incorporate a little more spontaneous kindness into the relationships you already have. Trying any of these easy random acts of kindness will have a seriously large impact on the connection you have with your partner, friends, family members, neighbors, siblings, and more.
"Research indicates that we feel closer to others when we feel that we are helping them," Dr. Marie Fang, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist, tells Romper in an email exchange. "Engaging in random acts of kindness may help you feel closer to those around you. However, in order to make lasting bonds and to help others feel closer to you, it's important to allow others to extend kindness to you. If you're wanting to build trust with someone quickly, asking them for help will be more powerful than offering to help them. Be careful to keep a sense of balance in your relationships so you're not overly lavishing everyone with kindness while not allowing others to offer you the same. People who don't ask for help from others can be perceived as untrustworthy or aloof. As with most good things, moderation is key!"
These easy spontaneous acts of kindness are concrete ways to show someone you care when they might need it most and expect it least.
1. Pick Them Up From The Airport
Traveling can be exhausting and stressful, so one way you can show your partner, family member, or friend a little kindness is to make an effort and pick them up at the airport. "Imagine after a long flight or train ride to have the person you love, waiting for you and ready to help you with your stuff," Karol Ward, LCSW, a confidence expert and coach, trained therapist, and motivational speaker, tells Romper by email. It's a pretty great feeling.
2. Offer To Babysit
Dr. Carole Lieberman, MD, a psychiatrist, tells Romper by email that one easy random act of kindness is to offer to watch a friend or family member's kids so that their parents have some time off. Think about how great it would be if someone gave you a little bit of time to spend alone, go on a romantic date, or even just quickly get some errands done that normally take far longer with the kids in tow. Everyone appreciates a little free time now and then.
3. Leave A Note
Don't underestimate the power of a simple note to make someone's day better. Dr. Carla Marie Manly, PhD, a clinical psychologist, tells Romper in an email exchange that leaving your partner a note with a plate of cookies, for example, because you know that you'll have to work a little later that night is one good way to brighten their evening and let them know that you're thinking about them.
4. Make Dinner Unexpectedly
Even if you enjoy cooking, sometimes making dinner is just a chore. You have to figure out what you're going to make, potentially shop for groceries, cook, and clean up afterwards. If you know that your partner or roommate either dislikes cooking or has an especially busy or stressful schedule right now, making dinner out of the blue can be one way to show them a little kindness. Ward says that because cooking, grocery shopping, and the like all eat up time in someone's day, it'll be much-appreciated if you surprise them and do it so that they don't have to.
5. Pick Up An Extra Shift Or Project
Chances are, you know what it's like to miss some sort of event or occasion because you have to work or have an important meeting. Do something nice for a coworker and offer to pick up a shift for them or take on a project so that they can make it to their kid's recital or other event, says Lieberman. It's something they'll remember.
6. Tidy Up
Everyone has chores that they hate, whether it's running errands, gardening and landscaping, doing laundry, or washing dishes. Manly says that doing a chore that you know your partner or roommate hates out of the blue is a great way to make them feel loved, which can make your bond stronger.
7. Send A Spontaneous Text Message
Send someone who needs it a midday pep talk via text message. They're sure to appreciate it and are likely to feel touched that you remembered and bothered to reach out and tell them how much you believe in them. This also works well if you know that someone is having a difficult time. Manly says that an invite for a get together can really make a difference.
8. Tell Someone You're Happy To See Them Or That You Appreciate Them
People like to hear that you're happy to see them or that you appreciate what they do for you. "Tell them you are happy they are there," Lynn R. Zakeri, LCSW, a therapist, tells Romper by email. "That the meeting/dinner party/school event just got better because of their attendance and your enjoyment of it. These small gestures go a long way."
9. Treat Them To Something They Love
There's something to be said for treating yourself, but there's just something special about a spontaneous gift or experience that you truly love that comes from someone else. "The more customized the act of kindness is, the greater the impact," Ward says. If they love dinners out, spa treatments, fancy coffees, or flowers, surprising them with something that they'll really value and maybe don't often or can't afford to do for themselves can be a great way to show how much you care about them and appreciate them.
10. Send Or Bring A Meal
Sometimes there's no time in your day to run out for lunch or maybe you've been at the hospital for days with a sick family member. Either way, someone simply bringing a meal or arranging a delivery can feel like a huge gift, even though it's fairly low-effort on their end. Manly says that arranging for a meal to be sent to your partner's desk when they're especially busy, for instance, can be a very thoughtful gesture.
11. Leave That Book You Just Finished At Someone Else's House
If you know your friends or family like to read, dropping a book off for them with a little note recommending it and letting them know you think they'd like it can be a very easy act of kindness. "I am actually part of a movement of 'Book Faeries' and leaving wrapped books as gifts, all around my neighborhood and when I travel elsewhere, gives me such joy," Dr. Robin Hornstein, PhD, a psychologist, clinical director at Hornstein, Platt and Associates, and an integrative nutrition health coach, tells Romper by email. Knowing that you left them something that they might enjoy will cheer you up as well as make them happy.
12. Celebrate Their Success
Ward says that setting up a fun celebration for your partner and their friends to celebrate a major professional success or milestone can be a good way to spread a little kindness. You could also plan a celebration for the two of you. Celebrating the successes and achievements of those close to you tells them that you're proud of them.
13. Ask Them About The Things They Care About — And Really Listen To The Response
Sometimes being kind is as easy as asking about the things that your friends, family members, coworkers, or partner cares about and taking an interest, really listening, and paying attention to the details. "First, get to know people in your life by asking questions about their greatest joys, stressors, etc," Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed psychologist, marriage counselor, and niche dating site founder, tells Romper by email. "Then, periodically ask them about those topics to see how they are going, which will make you appear really thoughtful."
14. Do Something That They Care About Or That Makes Them Happy
"Pay attention to what the people around you say and how they react to others," Rachel Kazez, LCSW, a licensed therapist and founder of All Along, tells Romper in an email exchange. "Ask them questions about their preferences. Learn what uniquely makes someone happy and do that." Looking for ways that you can make people happy by doing the things that they enjoy will change your entire mindset, Kazez adds. What makes you happy, however, won't necessarily make them happy, so make sure you're considering the activities, causes, and events that they love.
15. Send A Card
Nowadays, it can sometimes seem like all you get in the mail are bills, ads, and flyers. Taking the time to write out and send a card to a friend or family member can definitely bring you closer. It reminds them that you're thinking about them and keeps you connected.
"Random acts of kindness can also be an effective sense of distraction from our own turmoil," Allison Johanson, LCSW, LAC, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Romper in an email exchange. "They allow for enough distraction for our emotional intensity to decrease, increasing our ability to deal with our stressors later." So that card you put in the mail for a friend who needs some cheering up might actually help you feel better as well.
16. Give Your Partner Some Time Off
You and your partner are a team when it comes to the kids, the pet, and keeping the household running smoothly. That doesn't mean, however, that you both wouldn't appreciate a little bit of a break every now and again. Ward says that getting the kids fed, bathed, and put to bed so that your partner can get a workout in, catch the end of that TV show, or just relax is one thing that you can do that can fit the bill for a spontaneous act of kindness. Sometimes it's the littler, simpler things that can have the biggest impact.
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