Friday, July 4, 2014

How To Brighten Someone's Day Instantaneously: 30 Simple Acts Of Kindness For Those You Love And Those You Have Yet To Love.

This isn't exactly a typical post on Polkadots, Stripes, and Hearts, but I thought it would fit in because both Cate and I love making the world a little brighter in any way we can. Here are some ways that I've thought of... I hope you'll share with me your ideas in the comments!

1) Send someone a card ... in the mail.
They will just gush about how lovely it was to receive something in the mail. I promise, you will be tired of hearing "No one does that anymore!" 

2) Fill out a comment card for the next employee you meet that does a great job. Rave about the excellent service you got from that barista or the awesome recommendations from that salesperson. People with customer service or retail jobs are far too used to only hearing complaints. A positive remark would be welcomed with open arms (and hey, maybe they'll get a raise and that's karma points right there). Bonus points: leave a generous tip.

3) When you see kids selling lemonade on the street or girl guide cookies outside your supermarket, buy some. Buy more than you know what to do with. Watch their eyes practically burst out of their heads.

I recently watched a man pull his truck over, stick out $20 and yell "I don't want any change!" and speed off with his four boxes of Thin Mints while blasting the Oldies. You should have seen the happy dance the girls did realizing they were four less boxes away from standing out in the cold for another hour.

4) Write a note to your postman thanking them for their dutiful delivery all these years and leave it in your mailbox for them to find. Bonus points if you include a little present.

5) Say thank you to your bus driver when you get on AND off the bus. They don't get a lot of love.

In the suburbs, this is fairly common practice. In Vancouver, it's rarity. Let's make it common practice in cities everywhere!

6) Pay for the person's coffee behind you in line. It's easy, just give the barista an extra few dollars. You probably won't even miss it, but it will be the next person they serve's lucky day!

I loaded a gift card and dropped it off at a Starbucks downtown for them to use on unsuspecting customers. 

Often around Christmas time it is common for people to pay for the person's order behind them in drive-thrus. That's where this idea came from, except I don't drive, so I had to adapt!

7) Send (or pick!) flowers to someone you love without any other reason except you appreciate them and want them to know that. 

8) Make the next birthday/Christmas/thank you card you give. Seriously, break out the pencil crayons and construction paper and go all out. Add stickers and you are golden.

9) Send a good morning or good night text. D'awww.
Better yet, when you see something that reminds you of someone (say, that cute puppy or that cool graffiti, send it to them and tell them why it reminds you of them!) 

10) Next time you're at a convenience store, pick up someone's favourite chocolate bar and surprise them.

11) Write a note for your significant other (or your mom, roommate, brother...) to come home to. It can be as simple as "Hope you had a great day, can't wait to catch up at dinner!" or as elaborate as you like. Bonus points if you draw a picture.

12) Bake for someone just because.

13) Have a friend who has moved away? Know someone who is ill? Send a care package. Fill it with thoughtful items that show you are thinking about them: cough drops, that candy they can't get where they live, tea, that cd you guys always used to listen to... Get personal.

14) Donate to a cause you enjoy. Buy yourself a goat or something. Better yet, volunteer regularly. Not only is it good for the organization, it's actually good for your health.

15) If you see something that reminds you of someone, or something you think they would really love, pick it up for them. I'm not saying get them that diamond necklace, but if you see a book that your book-a-holic friend would love or a free crossword app at Starbucks and your best bud is a crossword puzzle fanatic, grab it. It doesn't have to be expensive to show you care. 

16) Personalize the next book you give by writing an inscription to the person on the inside. Possible messages: how much they mean to you, why you are giving them this book, what you hope they get out of it, why you need to share it with them. A personal message makes the book so much more special and it's something they will get a fuzzy feeling from every time they reread.

17) Send a postcard to let those you left behind so they know you wish they were with you. Even if its a weekend trip 2 hours away. Bonus points if you bring them back a souvenir (it can be as simple as a key chain or a shot glass).

Whenever I go anywhere, I always bring my sister back a shot glass- it's tradition. And now she has quite an impressive collection.

18) You know that really great picture you snapped of you and your friend the other day? Print it out, grab a frame, and give it to her. 

19) Get up early and make a surprise breakfast. Even if it's just tea and a day old muffin.

20) Learn how your friends take their coffee. Next time your going to their house or popping by their work, bring that extra hot, non-fat, triple shot latte. They will be double surprised, first that you brought them something, second that you nailed it!

(This is a Chai tea latte with whole milk, no water, and cinnamon dolce sprinkles, just saying.)

21) Renew an old friendship. Remember that friend you stopped talking to ages ago for no real reason except life got in the way? Look them up and let them know you're thinking of them. Whether on Facebook, phone, or through the mail, it can be wonderful to get a blast from the past.

22) Got tickets to something you can't go to? Whether it's that cool concert, magical ballet, or heartwarming play (no end of possibilities), if you can't go, consider donating it to a local charity. Organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters give the tickets to matches that normally wouldn't ordinarily be able to attend special events like these. It's a great cause and creates a memorable bonding experience for the pair!

23) Drop cat or dog food off at your local shelter. Maybe you don't have time to volunteer, but shelters are almost always in desperate need of food for little furry friends. It feels more personal than donating money and it's a bonus that it frees up their money for their many other expenses (like enormous vet fees!)

24) Know a family whose parents could use a break? Offer to babysit! It is a busy, stressful world we live in and most parents aren't able to get out very much, much less alone and together. Of course, we all know spending some alone time together is essential to maintaining a loving and healthy relationship. Help facilitate strong family relationships by having their children over. C'mon, you know you're going to enjoy building a tent fort and watching movies all night just as much as the kids are!

25) Write a letter to someone who made a difference in your life, whether it's your dad, your favourite high school teacher, or your soccer coach.  Even if you think they know what an impression they have made on you, it is important to reinforce how much you love and appreciate them. Doing it in person is great, but a letter is a memento they can keep forever. Besides, it is sometimes hard to find the right words. When writing you can labour over your message for as long as you like.

26) Pick up something to donate to your local food bank. They can also use more non-perishable food items, but don't forget many also accept items for new babies (diapers!) and also books or toys!

Other options may include dropping off clothing and personal hygiene items at the local women's shelter, donating art supplies to a children's hospital or making care packages for the homeless. 

My boyfriend and I recently made care packages. We included: toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, deodorant, gloves, Chapstick, bandaids, a waterbottle, a granola bar, a lollipop, and a Christmas card /note.a ll together it cost us about $28 dollars to make 4 bags, but we have some extra items to make a fifth bag soon. You could adapt the idea to make your own packages suit your budget. Other ideas include: wet wipes, socks, tissue paper, ponchos, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, floss, hand warmers. This list could go on and on...

27) Donate your talents! Are you a great web designer, a great photographer, and so on? Why not use what you're best at for the good of the world? Many charities and non-profits could use help with updating their websites, for instance! 

This also works for anyone you know that needs assistance or would like to learn what you do.

28) Leave kind, positive, and thoughtful comments on social media and blogs. There is already too much negativity in the world, add your two cents in a positive way. You're already there reading whatever site your on, take a minute to give some positive feedback to the person who took the time to write it.

29) Know someone who is holding an event or fundraiser, selling chocolate for their baseball team, is self employed or looking for work? Spread the word! Support them by letting others in your life know how great they are (and how they need your help!)

30) Drop off flowers, valentines, balloons, cards, cookies (I could go on and on, there's a never ending list of items that would make them feel special) to an old folks home. Many people there do not have regular visits from friends and relatives to look forward to everyday so even the smallest of gestures can brighten their day. Bonus points if you personally deliver them to each resident.

 Opportunities to be kind fall into your lap all the time, 
you just choose what you do with that opportunity.

Please share your own experiences with acts of kindness (random or otherwise) below! I would love to hear your ideas :)

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