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dog with young boy

The holidays can be a great time to step back and think about the little things in life that make you happy.

It can be easy to get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle and forget to take time for little expressions of kindness to those around us.  Numerous studies seem to show a correlation between volunteering or performing kind acts and increased health benefits.  Some researchers suggest that altruistic acts can have a positive impact on immune systems and serotonin levels.

One researcher suggests, “People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations [are quantifiably healthier]—and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status, and many more.  This is a stronger effect than exercising four times a week or going to church; it means that volunteering is nearly as beneficial to our health as quitting smoking” (Christine Carter PhD. 2010)

The good news is that even small, inexpensive or even free acts of kindness can make a huge difference-not only to your own health and happiness, but to many people around you.  Here are twenty random acts of kindness that you can do-even if you have very little time or money.  Remember- no act of kindness is ever wasted!

  1. Give someone a sincere compliment.
  2. Let another car merge in front of you on the freeway.
  3. Offer to take a picture for someone who is trying to take a picture of themselves or others.
  4. Make eye contact and say “thank you” to someone who has helped you at the grocery store, restaurant, or even fast-food drive thru.
  5. Throw away your trash and help others who have “missed” the garbage can
  6. Pack a humorous or kind note in your spouse’s or child’s lunchbox
  7. Write a letter or a card to service men and women stationed overseas.  There is a great non-profit in Utah called Letters to Soldiers who can send them overseas for you.
  8. Sing songs at a rest home with the patrons.
  9. Hold the elevator door for someone trying to get on
  10. Take a moment to really listen to someone.
  11. Put your shopping cart back to the cart return when you go shopping.
  12. Give someone a hug who has had a long day.
  13. Stop by a kid’s lemonade stand and buy a drink
  14. If you have a vegetable garden, donate the extras to a soup kitchen
  15. If you have a flower garden, donate your end-of-season flowers to a rest home
  16. Leave an extra 5% on your tip
  17. If you have a business or professional skills, think about how they can be used to help others.
  18. Learn the names of the people you interact with on a daily basis.  Greet them by name each day.
  19. Call a friend or family member who you rarely contact and reconnect.
  20. Tell someone in your life how much they mean to you and how much you love them