Sometimes being nice to people can see pretty daunting. Strangers are often intimidating. Have you ever looked out of the corner of your eye and thought you saw someone giving you a dirty look, or bumped into a man on the street who didn’t say excuse me? Odds are that, like everyone else, those folks on the sidewalk are busy and distracted.When you walk down the street, you may pass dozens of strangers per day who have varying outlooks on life. The man in the red hat may be going through a divorce, the woman in the yellow dress may have just come from the spa, the little girl with the blue scarf may be worried about a job interview.
But the old saying, a stranger’s just a friend you haven’t met yet? Well, sometimes it’s true. I resolved to treat everyone I met with a remarkable amount of kindness. Sometimes that little bit of making someone’s day better can go a long way.
If you see someone in line behind you, offer for them to take your place
It’s amazing how that small gesture can make someone’s whole day. And it costs you exactly zero dollars.
Offer to take a picture for someone
If you see that tell-tale awkward selfie strain when someone is posing with their friend, just offer to take a quick snap for them.
Share your leftovers with a homeless person
If you live in a big city, sometimes you get to know the people who live near you and might be down on their luck. Dividing up that meatball and spaghetti meal you made for yourself and giving a portion to them? Way more satisfying then leftovers.
Share your gum or mint supply
If you see someone on the train staring at your DoubleMint supply, there’s no harm in offering them a piece. Fresh breath makes everyone feel better.
Give up your seat on the train or bus
See someone hauling home grocery bags, or just looking weary? It can make all the difference in the world to kick up your heels for a minute. Give them your seat and watch the smiles spread.
High fives are the best freebies
See someone on a skateboard? Riding their bike? Hanging out in the park? Hold you hand up for some hand-slapping goodness.
Give out compliments like it’s your job
See someone’s outfit you like? Maybe a cool pair of sunglasses? Someone at work doing a really good job? Tell them so.
Pick up litter, even when it’s not yours
See that floating plastic bag or that jettisoned plastic bottle? Just pick it up and throw it away. Seriously. It helps.
Leave a good book in an unsuspecting place
Repeat this throughout your town. Don’t choose the obvious places. It’s like a treasure hunt!
Help carry groceries or a stroller
See someone struggling with their bags? Lend a hand. Hold the door. It helps.
Offer to give directions
See someone looking confused? Just ask if they need help finding their way.
All these are ways, large and small, that you can inject some kindness back into the world. So do it! It only take a little bit of your time, and it’ll go a long way.
Forest Gamble is a writer, a filmmaker, and a lover of breakfast. He blogs about movies, pop culture, science, and more at Pie With Coffee.