1. Donating some used books. Though having a collection of them is lovely, so is sharing with people who couldn’t otherwise afford to buy them new. And when you do, write a note to the next person inside the front cover.
2. Inviting new people into your friend group, or at least making a sincere effort to include everyone who is already in it.
3. Making a donation to some lesser-known but awesome charities like The Cinderella Project, which is an organization that works toward ensuring that young women with financial restraints can attend prom and other formal events at school.
4. Sharing your umbrella with a stranger.
5. Stopping negative conversations when you realize that you are a part of them or standing up for someone who other people are speaking ill of without their knowledge. The only way to stop the vicious cycle is by actively choosing to do so, one instance at a time.
6. Acknowledging people who work in maintenance at your office or apartment building. Asking them how they’re doing, getting to know them. Just the gesture of taking an interest in the people who many often blatantly ignore is enough to at least make their day.
7. Buying lemonade from kids’ stands, and paying more than the $.25 they charge for it.
8. Paying for someone’s groceries, especially when it’s not much. My mom once told me about the time she was behind a man buying baby food who didn’t have enough money for it and how he teared up when she paid for it and thanked her because she helped feed his newborn.
9. Paying for someone’s drink, even if you’re not on a date.
10. Calling your parents.
11. Striking up a conversation with the person you’re stuck with in the elevator, rather than just pretending they don’t exist.
12. Sharing an article that made you smile or think.
13. Grabbing your roommate/significant other’s favorite food while you’re out shopping. It probably doesn’t cost much, it’s a tiny gesture of love, but one that will make them really happy (and they’ll probably return the favor eventually too– not that it matters).
14. Sending actual letters to people. Texts and emails are cute, but handwritten cards and letters are the things that people save for the rest of their lives.
15. Giving someone a massage. As someone who is constantly in need of a back massage, I can’t say enough how happy it makes me when someone voluntarily gives me one. It’s an instant mood lifter.
16. Sitting and talking with your grandparents, not out of obligation but interest. So often people interact with their relatives as a matter of routine and duty, not because they are awesome people with wisdom and stories and love. The idea that friendship can only exist between people of the same age range is insane.
17. Personally tipping your barista.
18. Though it’s probably a cliché at this point, spend a night at a food kitchen in your area. I did so in college with a few friends and interacting with the people there, people with children, grandparents, babies, who were clearly sick and unwell, all getting out of the cold for a little bit to eat something, was almost a revelation for me.
19. Giving the parking spot you were going to take to the person who pulled up just a second too late. It will really make someone’s day and probably only costs you a couple more feet of walking, which isn’t bad for you regardless.
20. Giving up your seat on a subway. I once had someone do this for me– only once– and yet I still think of it as one of the kindest things someone’s done for me, especially at the end of a grueling day in unseemly pumps.
21. Using the classic tactic of “praise, critique, praise” when in the position of giving honest feedback. People are too quick to criticize and too often to sugar coat that which doesn’t benefit the person by avoiding.
22. Apologizing first.
23. Taking your younger sibling (or some other small person) out for a day you would have loved to have at that age.
24. Donating the higher end things that you don’t need anymore, like sports equipment or formal wear, because in reality, those are the things that people will struggle to afford if they’re hurting financially anyway. They can probably find another t-shirt anywhere.
25. Saying “I love you” first.