12. Do something nice for someone else — the kind of favor you might not see returned. One of my resolutions this year was to try to do Random Acts of Kindness for people every day — to let people sit down before me on the train, actually give the homeless guy a quarter rather than lying (not because I think it’ll make a difference, but because he’s a person whose humanity deserves recognition), hold doors open for people and a lot of cliché things that aren’t that interesting. It might not affect others’ lives, but these things are a daily reminder to me that I’m not the most important person in the world, and I should continually try to be of service to others, even if that’s just letting them go first.
13. Give someone a completely unsolicited compliment. During my sophomore year of college, I sat next to a girl who scared the crap out of me. She was beautiful, confident and one of the smartest people I’d ever met, one of those people who walks into class like they mean business. She didn’t talk to anyone, really, because she came to learn; she didn’t come here to make friends. But she was so interesting, and I knew I wanted to get to know this girl. So I made sure to compliment or say something nice every chance I could, knowing that one of those could lead to a real conversation and the intellectual pickle jar being opened. And wouldn’t you know it? We were close friends by the end of the year.