Acts of Kindness That Take Moments

fit acts of kindness in your busy day

Be kind whenever possible.

It is always possible.

~Dalai Lama

Compassion is contagious. The wisest among us have always taught this truth and researchers agree: a kind word or helpful gesture inspires recipients to act more compassionately themselves. This tendency to “pay it forward’ influences dozens more in an enlarging network of kindness. Even more heartening, the effect persists.

When kindness begats more kindness, it sets in motion a ripple effect far greater than we might imagine. (We know it boosts the giver’s health and happiness too, especially when we perform a variety of caring acts.)

Want to fit more compassion in your day?


1 minute acts of compassion

When something good happens, amplify it. If you see a public servant going above the call of duty, contact their supervisor to commend them. If you’ve gotten excellent service at a restaurant, repair shop, or other business leave a complimentary review online. If one of your children’s friends did something unexpectedly generous or thoughtful, call their parents to share the story.

Take the time to introduce yourself and ask the names of people you see on a regular basis. That way you can greet the office security guard, postal carrier, and librarian by name every time you see them.

Next time you renew your driver’s license, check the organ donor box.

Let someone leaning on a cane  or trying to calm a fussy baby go in front of you in the checkout line.

Add a coin to an expired meter.

Give an authentic compliment to a family member, friend, or co-worker. Think of it as being on the prowl for the positive.

Let your online clicks do some good by using search engine that donates to charities. Try Good Search or EcoSearch. Registering is speedy, then you can use it daily.

Pick up a few extra umbrellas when you see them on sale. Keep them in your car or at work, ready to gift someone who doesn’t have one. (Or heck, next time it looks like rain, have fun hanging a umbrellas from tree branches and road signs in a busy part of town!)

When you buy coffee, pay extra for “suspended coffee.” It’s an anonymous act of charity,  allowing the barista to give a cup of coffee to someone who has difficulty paying.


5 minute acts of kindness

Create a separate, secret email account for each of your kids. Send an email whenever you take a great picture, share a funny moment, or want to preserve a memory. Give them the email address when they become parents for the first time.

Save empty pill bottles from over-the-counter as well as prescription meds and supplements. Soak the labels off, then send them to Medicine Bottles for Malawi.

Write a personal note of appreciation. Seem daunting? Here’s a thank you note template!

Send mail to a child. Kids love getting mail but rarely, if ever, receive anything personal addressed to them. Here are some unusual snail mail ideas.

Perform secret favors for family members or co-workers. There’s something about doing this anonymously that imbues even the most menial tasks with meaning.

Make a small investment in someone’s endeavor through Kiva. Once it’s repaid, loan that money to another recipient. Choosing which person or project to back is a great family activity.

Be a resonant listener. Give your full attention to the other person. Nod, encourage them to go on, respond in ways that show you empathize. This may be the single most powerful thing you can do for anyone.


15 minute acts of compassion

Ask your hair salon, barber, or pet groomer to donate to Matters of Trust. The organization collects hair clippings as well as fur and fleece, recycling them into mats used to absorb oil in the event of a toxic spill in waterways.  Or donate on your own!

Sick or infirm neighbor? Offer to walk her dog.

Go through a book shelf and drop off books you no longer use to your local library or an area women’s shelter. Or ship them to Books for SoldiersBooks for Africa, or Reader to Reader.

Extra homemade cookies? Stop by to deliver them to your local fire station, along with your thanks.

Make bird treats by rolling pinecones in peanut butter and then birdseed. Hang them up on a tree outside your window.

Text or email a few people to set up a series of meals for someone who is recovering from surgery or just gave birth. Here’s how to make this work.

Have a purse, backpack, or messenger bag you no longer use? Fill it with non-perishable snacks, hygiene products, a water bottle, a few dollars, and new pair of socks. Next time you come across a homeless person, offer it to him or her.

Go through your closets, collect old running shoes (any brand) and drop them off at the nearest Nike store’s Reuse-a-Shoe collection. The shoes will be ground up for use as surface material on playgrounds and running tracks.

Greet new people in your neighborhood with a small gift such as a houseplant or fresh loaf of bread.

Use children’s drawings as wrapping paper, tucking inside them a piece of wrapped candy or silk flower, along with a note like “thanks for being so nice” or “you made my day.” Then when you’re out together, stay on the lookout for a nice cashier, helpful librarian, or kind friend to hand out a surprise package. It cues kids to see goodness everywhere.

Do something good for yourself! Try making your own highly personal Bits of Joy list. That way whenever a bit of time opens, even a few minutes, you’ll be prompted to devote it to something you love to do.



Guerrilla Encouragement Efforts: Gestures of kindness even the smallest children can do.

40 Ways Kids Can Volunteer from Toddler to Teen  Make no-sew dog toys to donate to pet rescue shelters, participate in a toy co-op, even earn a Congressional Award,

25 Ways to Spread Some Kindness  From leaving money in certain vending machines to using a Pass It Forward box.