Yes, these suggestions have all been published before in countless places already. But I think the more we’re reminded of the big impact we can have through simple gestures, the more apt we are to actually do them ourselves. So, here’s a list of small things we can do to have a big impact on the world and people around us today:
- Buy someone a coffee
I haven’t been out-and-about that much lately, but when I am, sometimes I treat myself to a coffee at Starbucks. In the past 2 weeks I’ve bought coffee for the car behind me a total of 5 times (don’t judge me – I need a lot of coffee apparently). The other day I really needed a pick-me-up because my elderly dog had me up most of the night, I was in the middle of a slightly-more-challenging remote learning day with my two children and also had my own work deliverables looming. As I drove up to the cashier to get my coffee, they told me that the car in front of me had paid for it already. The kindness you give to the world comes right back at you when you need it most.
- Call a lonely friend or family member
The holidays this year look very different for most of us. I live approximately 6 hours away from my parents. Our family has chosen to stay safe and apart during the entire pandemic, so it has been hard not to see them during our regular visits. When I’m feeling especially lonely, I pick up the phone can call them. Usually, they’re feeling it too and we can enjoy each other’s company in a completely different way.
- Donate coats to children
Every year our local news station, WRAL has a coat drive for children. I’m usually too busy or distracted this time of year with school parties, getting ready to travel, and the general hectic nature of the holidays. This year I took the time to go through all of our winter hats, gloves and old coats thinking I wouldn’t find much. Guess what? I found 2 huge garbage bags full of warm clothes to donate! Not only did it feel good knowing that children will be warm because of this donation, but it also felt good to clean out things we no longer need. Speaking of which…
- Donate clothes and other items you no longer need
This, again, takes time…and yes, this sounds suspiciously like #3 but is meant to be broader in nature. Back in April, I did this once because I was starting to feel stir-crazy and needed to feel productive. What a great time to organize! But after going through all of our winter clothes, I dove deeper than I have since we first moved into our house over 10 years ago. And I literally brought car loads of stuff to donation centers. Why in the world was I keeping all of this stuff? It feels GREAT that someone else will be able to use the things that were sitting in closets and untouched for years. I read Marie Kondo’s book The Live Changing Magic of Tidying Up about 4 years ago and thought I had already done this. It turns out, doing it again from a completely different mindset is what I actually needed. Now it feels like 2021 will arrive with less baggage, literally.
- Donate money to your local food pantry
This one seems obvious enough, but I need to include it here because there are SO MANY people who are facing a food shortage. We’re living through unprecedented times. If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for someone, donate food in their name either locally or though organizations like Feeding America.
- Give the people who support you a small gift of appreciation
There are many people in our lives who work in the background supporting us. Giving them a token of appreciation goes a long way…even if you just give them a hand-written card. People like your mail carrier (who is definitely over-worked this holiday season) would love this and it will feel good too.
- Send a card
You knew this one would be on my list (or maybe you didn’t) because I’ve been a greeting card designer and writer for over 20 years. I’ve dedicated my entire career to supporting this gesture. Sending or receiving something in the mail is pretty magical. It’s something that brings joy in a different way than receiving a digital message. Even if you didn’t send a Christmas card with the perfect (or in our case, not-ever-perfect) picture of your family this year, send your close friends a quick hand-written card. They will appreciate it more than you know.
- Tell someone you are grateful for them
Our words have power. Verbalizing something as simple as this can change someone’s whole perspective.
- Find some time to do something to take care of yourself.
Being kind to yourself is being kind to the world. Remember to listen to your inner voice and give yourself time to recharge, reflect and find some peace. Doing this will ensure you can remain centered and put your best foot forward. I bet there are more people than you know looking to you for cues about how to be. Giving the world your best self will create ripples of positivity in your circle and beyond.
- Smile at a stranger
In the age of COVID and masks this one is harder to do than you may think. But there are moments when you make eye contact with another driver or when you’re out somewhere without your mask because you’re far enough apart. Smile at someone. Strike up a random conversation about something. Making these little connections is still so important because it can remind us that we’re not as alone as we may sometimes feel.
- Give or send someone a Kindness Card
Now you’re wondering why my list of 10 things has 11. “Vicky, did you not have your coffee this morning?”. Well, no, I haven’t had enough…clearly this is the 11th thing in my list. But I had to include it because I’m giving away FREE Kindness Cards on my website. They are artful reminders that include messages of encouragement to spread some kindness in the world. We need it now more than ever. Get yours HERE. For only the cost of shipping, you can get a set of 30 cards to keep for yourself or to pass on to someone who needs a little more kindness.
Thanks for reading my list, if in fact, you made it all the way through. Imagine if we all did just one of these things every day. Together we can change the world. Kindness. Pass it on.
Happy Holidays from my little over-caffeinated corner of the world to yours. I wish each and every one of you a Happy and Healthy New Year.