51 Little Ways to Be a Kinder and More Caring Person

Updated 04/04/19


The other day, I turned to my oldest friend and said, “Does it seem like people are getting ruder, or am I just turning into a grumpy old lady?” While she laughed, I explained that lately it seems like the world is becoming a ruder place. When I say hello to the people who live in my apartment building, they often act like I don’t exist. Hiring managers I have interviewed with for a job ignore my emails, and my own dear friends and family don’t even bother to RSVP to events I’m planning.

It’s not just my personal world that feels crueler. In the world at large, there is plenty of rudeness. One of the unfortunate benefits of social media is that it allows people to say things to each other that they would never say face to face, so celebrities and regular citizens alike are going on rants and are either ignored or, worse, praised.

While I can’t prove that the world is a meaner place, I can do my best to combat the crudeness. How? In the words of my wise mother, by “killing them with kindness.” I’m trying to be a kinder and caring person, and I encourage you to do the same. Here are 51 little things that will make the world a brighter and friendlier place. Because why not go ahead and make someone’s day?

  1. Give more hugs. Apparently humans need 12 hugs a day for growth. Hugging makes you healthier, so start giving more hugs.
  2. Say please and thank you. Often. Never underestimate the power of a simple thank-you.
  3. Speaking of thank-yous, send thank-you notes. Not just for your wedding gifts but for everything. Send your mom a thank-you note for giving birth to you. Leave a thank-you note in your mailbox for your mailman. Thank that carrier for bringing your beloved issue of Martha Stewart Living every month.
  1. Let pregnant and elderly people have your seat on the bus or train.
  2. Open doors. Hold the door open for someone carrying a bunch of groceries or a suitcase.
  3. Bring an expensive box of chocolates to work and hand them out to your co-workers in the late afternoon.
  4. Give a bottle of wine to your hairstylist or esthetician. Who wouldn’t want a surprise bottle of bubbly?
  5. Have a magazine subscription sent to your best friend’s house. Only tell her it was you when she says, “I’ve started getting Harper’s Bazaar, and I don’t know where it came from!”
  1. Empty the dishwasher. Why not be a better roommate?
  2. Don’t leave your dirty dishes in the sink. Put them in the dishwasher you just emptied.
  3. Tell your loved ones they are beautiful. When people look gorgeous, tell them. Comment on their Instagram, or send them a text saying how great they look.
  4. Treat your team to coffee in the morning. Surprise your team with their favorite coffee orders waiting on their desk when they arrive in the morning.
  5. Pick up after yourself. If you’re at a restaurant or café that doesn’t have a busser, put your dirty dishes in the designated area. Throw away your trash.
  1. Don’t leave your shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot. Put it in the corral with the rest of the carts.
  2. Wear or use a gift in the presence of the gifter. My aunt often gifts me with amazing thrift-store finds. She’s never happier than when she sees me wearing that fur shrug she found.
  3. Send an old friend flowers. If they live in another city, brighten their day with a bouquet.
  4. Give away the books you’ve read. Go through your bookshelves. Pull out any books you no longer want, and donate them to a local library.
  1. Share your homegrown vegetables and farm-fresh eggs. If you have chickens, share the wealth with your friends and family!
  2. When driving through a bridge toll or drive-in restaurant or coffee shop, pay for the car behind you.
  3. Do what you say you’re going to do. Always keep your word.
  4. Respond to emails, texts, and phone calls. Don’t ignore your friends and family.
  5. When someone says hello, say hi back. It’s just plain rude not to.
  6. Let people through in traffic. When people cut you off, don’t flip them off. Let it go.
  1. Recycle and compost as much as you can. We should be kind to the earth, too!
  2. Be an active and thoughtful listener. When you ask people how they are, listen intently to their response.
  3. Leave a generous tip to someone who has done a good job.
  4. Give more compliments. A simple “I love your dress” can go a long way.
  5. Write notes for your loved ones and leave them in their lunchboxes or jacket pockets.
  6. Call your parents. Every day.
  7. Let someone who is in a hurry go ahead of you at the checkout line.
  8. Give the gift of photos. Send a copy of a photo to the person in it. Print it out!
  1. Make someone else’s bed. Your roommate, sibling, or spouse will love you for it.
  2. Smile at strangers.
  3. Buy a sandwich for the homeless person in front of the grocery store.
  4. Take the garbage out.
  5. Put change in a meter that’s about to expire.
  6. Praise someone who is doing an amazing job.
  7. Pay attention to your children. Put down your phone and give them your undivided attention.
  8. Volunteer.
  9. Offer to babysit a friend’s child for free so the parents can have a night out.
  10. Interact with the people you encounter every day. Talk to the guys who work at the corner store. Develop a friendly relationship with the lady who makes your coffee just how you like it.
  1. Forget about a debt that someone owes you. Ask the person who was supposed to pay you back to do the same to someone else in the future.
  2. Stop complaining. Your positivity will encourage other people to do the same.
  3. Be nice to people you dislike. Kill them with kindness!
  4. Hire someone to clean your parents’ house twice a month.
  5. Be tolerant and flexible. Stick up for someone being treated wrongly.
  6. Clean your bathroom.
  7. Do a loved one’s laundry.
  8. Throw more dinner parties. Invite your friends over for dinner.
  1. Be present. A kind person is authentic and aware of how their actions can affect people. Be a positive impact rather than a negative one.
  2. Pay it forward—share this list with the people you care about!

Shop books that discuss the power of kindness below.

On Kindness by Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor $13
The Kindness Handbook by Sharon Salzberg $15
The Power of Nice by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval $13
The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci $11

How do you practice random acts of kindness?

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