10 Simple Acts of Kindness

Editors Note:  This  is a guest post by Kerry, author of The Simple Year 1.  Kim has finished her Simple Year Project and we have begun soliciting new writers for The Simple Year 4.   Think you are interested?  Click here.


Happy 2015!  Perhaps this is your year to get organized/write a novel/learn a second language/be kinder?

Mine too!

But, I need a plan to follow.  Otherwise, I get all mired down in my day-to-day life and suddenly it’s May and I haven’t written a book AND have no measurable way to determine if I have been kinder. I love the idea of volunteering my time at a soup kitchen or leaving a tip big enough to become an Internet meme, but it’s probably not a sustainable or realistic expectation of myself.

So, I made a list of things I am going to concentrate on.  Who doesn’t love a list?


Make eye contact and smile- Seems simple, right?  It is amazing how infrequently people actually smile at strangers.  But, it is also amazing how many people will smile back.  (although, it is often preceded by a bit of a surprised look)

Pick up some trash- I have started carrying a couple of those plastic grocery store bags (the ones you get when you forget your reusable ones) in my car.  It helps me remember to fill them and it is good for transport to the next available trashcan.

Take someone’s shopping cart- As you are going into a store, offer to take someone’s cart that has just finished loading.  Or gather “an orphan” cart and push it into the store, even if you aren’t going to need it.

Help a parent- The addition of children can make any simple errand complex.  If you see a mom (even the ones that seem put together) offer to load her groceries while she is buckling children or help her pick up a stroller over a curb or up a couple of stairs. On an airplane or other forms of public transportation, offer to help her load and unload her things.  The possibilities are endless if you pay attention.

Yield in traffic- I am convinced that most people don’t cut other people off on purpose, rather because they aren’t paying attention.  Start actively looking at others around for opportunities to let someone in front of you.   Also, if someone lets you in, wave to signal your appreciation.

Pay a compliment- It can be as simple as “you look nice today” or as specific as telling the aerobics instructor how much they motivated you that day.  I shoot for a minimum of one heartfelt compliment in person or via email every day.

Ask to speak to the manager- I will be the first to admit that I request the supervisor when I am not getting my desired customer service results.  Conversely, I have started asking to speak to a supervisor (both over the phone and in person) to praise an employee. It not only makes me feel good, it is often met by stunned surprise.  Also, don’t just fill out comments cards when you are unhappy, fill them out when you are satisfied as well.

Take your neighbor’s trashcan or paper to the house- I was the beneficiary of this kindness many times last year and it always my heart happy.

Talk to someone who is alone at a social function- Some of us are better at small talk than others.   If you are gregarious by nature, spend some time with those that look a bit more uncomfortable or are standing alone.   I’ve met some incredible people by reaching out like this.

Spread the word- If you have a good experience with a business or someone who provides a service, spread the word.  Don’t wait until someone asks if you know a good painter-barber-bakery.  Shout it to your friends or the people in line next to you at Starbucks.

That is my list I started a few weeks ago. It won’t cost me anything (other than a few brain bytes)  and I feel like it won’t add any levels of complexity to my life.  (crossing my fingers)  You can borrow it if you want.  Or we’d love to hear about it if you have your own.

9 Responses to 10 Simple Acts of Kindness

  1. i was surprised at how many of these i already do!. it does take slowing down, giving yourself more time to get anywhere so you can stress free have serendipity happen. finally resolutions i have a chance of following! thanks for the list.

  2. How come Kim is stopping now? I know it seemed like the experiment was going nowhere, but it did inspire me to be more generous than usual, and to think about why we need kindness, and where kindness comes from (something the blog posts did not provide, probably due to Kim’s not being particularly religious) I don’t follow the blog on facebook, so I must’ve missed something. In fact, even with simple year 2 I felt I was getting an incomplete look, probably because I missed the facebook conversations. And I won’t join the facebook group, for simplicity reasons :-).

    I like this list. Thank you, Kerry.

    • Hi Marlise. I just wanted to comment real quick and say thanks for reading my year. We came to a decision to end the year early partly because of what you mentioned above – the experiment aspect was going no where and I didn’t know how to tie it all together. I personally found during my time doing this that living a kind life isn’t a project or experiment – but a lifestyle. I found great joy in taking the time to try to be a kinder, more caring individual – but I also realized it was something I’ve always done – just not consciously. I’m sorry I failed to convey this in my final post but I do hope that the words and stories I shared inspired some of you to take a moment and think about how you could bring more kindness into your life and the lives of those around you. 🙂

      • Thanks Kim for your reply. It’s so true that kindness is a lifestyle and that probably makes it hard to write viral posts about! Thanks again for your time and your posts. They got me thinking!

  3. I do not mean to sound critical in my comments, please forgive me if I do. Just pressed with time and unable to word my ideas clearly. I found Kim’s idea very interesting.

  4. I Love Your Act of Kindness list. Over a year ago I began to notice a trend of happiness, joy, and authentic connectivity that would occur in this mist of an act of kindness when I would conduct them. So from that moment I decided to designate Tuesday as my Act of Kindness day. On Tuesdays for a year I conducted an act of kindness in whatever fashion that spoke to my heart. Now after over a year, I don’t have to think about it anymore now I do it automatically. The power of Kindness at work is changing the world for the good one kind act at a time. Phoebe

  5. I get lots of joy from the giving compliments thing. Many years ago a gorgeous and stylish woman tapped me on the shoulder and told me how fabulous I looked in my coat. It made my day and also made me realise how often we think “nice coat” but don’t actually say it. Now I always say it and it really makes people feel good. Love it.

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