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:: Little kindnesses ::

It's getting real close now to that time of year. You know, the time where goodwill abounds easily and seemingly effortlessly. It should be that way all the time don't you think? I mean, after all, there are so many ways to extend simple kindness into the lives of others. Some people call it random acts of kindness. I like to call it everyday living. There should be nothing unusual about being kind every chance you get. How?  Well, that's the easy part. There are so many ways. You do little kindnesses each and every day without thinking about it or even realizing it. But, if you're looking for a little help... here a some suggestions...

1. Create a happiness jar for a friend who needs some uplifting. Put 50–100 paper hearts or smiley faces in the jar. On each cutout write something that is special about your friend. Then, anytime they get lonely or just needs a quick pick me up they can pull out one of them and read it!
2. Find opportunities to give compliments. There are so many to give, and it costs absolutely nothing, takes no time, and could make someone’s entire day. Don’t just think it. Say it. People really appreciate it.
3. On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, remember any friends who have lost a parent the previous year, and check in with them.  Those will be tough days. I know.

4. Make little gift baskets for the kids in your neighborhood. It makes them feel so special. Each little basket is probably only $5, but, it means so much. It lets them know, they are not alone, and that we are all one big, happy, caring neighborhood. And that each person is important and means something. That is why we are such a close knit neighborhood. Because it feels more like family.
5. If you’re an customer you can donate’s money to your favorite U.S. nonprofit through Amazon Smile. It takes a total of 20 seconds to read how to do this and set it up. Then Amazon will donate to your favorite nonprofit each time you make a purchase.
6. Collect soda can tabs to donate to Ronald McDonald House for sick children and their families. The charity gets paid for these.

7. Put a surprise note or drawing in with your spouse’s or kid’s lunch. Or even a beautiful painted rock with something special painted on it just for them.
8. When it’s summer and the heat is on, remember the people who have to work out there, hand out cold lemonade to your mail carrier and to your garbage men, and likewise, when it's freezing outside, offer hot chocolate to crossing guards, police officers and others. They will really appreciate it.
9. Cook an extra portion of dinner (or dessert) for someone who needs it. Every once in a while I cook an extra and give it to the neighbor down the street who lost his wife last year. He is not a cook to say the least, and if he were left to his own devices would probably eat TV dinners every night. But, as it is, we each pitch in and every night someone different brings him dinner. He won't admit it, but, he loves it. And the attention-we always invite him each week to game night-he's the life of the party... and the referee when one is needed! He coaches the kids basketball now as well. He has become more active then he ever was- he feels needed, because he is needed. It's totally a win-win!

10. After a wedding or party donate all of the flowers to a nursing home. If you want to see the impact of these acts of kindness, personally deliver a flower to each resident.
11. Tell someone the truth. Sometimes it’s really hard, but it’s what friends do. There are times when being quiet is just plain old wrong. If you know it, and it bothers you in the pit of your stomach-let it out once and for all. Do what's right.
12. You could text someone just to tell them something you appreciate about them. Trust me, it will make them feel awesome!

13. Keep an extra umbrella at work, so you can lend it out when it rains.
14. Sometimes we shy away from people when we know they're having a rough time. We assume that we should just wait for them to approach us, instead, ask them how they are doing. Most of the time people are relieved to have someone to talk to.
15. Slip $5 into the coat pocket of someone who needs it.
16. Listen. Don’t interrupt. People don’t always want us to suggest a solution. They just want us to listen. We underestimate how important and comforting it is to be listened to.

17. When you get great service tell the person who helped you. Then, tell a manager. Go to the corporate web site and submit an email. It can really make a difference for that employee-some even get raises based on customer feedback.
18. Write a positive online review of a business you like. It makes a difference.
And, don’t forget to point out those people at your work who do a great job.
19. Encourage someone to pursue their dreams. And, if possible, help them to achieve their goals.

20. Donate your things instead of saving things in case you need them in 10 years, consider giving stuff to someone who needs it now.
21. Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
22. Everyone is important. Learn the names of your office security guard, the person at the front desk and other people you see every day. Greet them by name. Also say “hello” to strangers and smile. These acts of kindness are so easy, and they almost always make people smile.

23. In the middle of December, contribute to Operation Santa Claus. Go to the Post Office, snag one of the letters to Santa, and fulfill a wish for someone who needs help buying gifts.
24. Contribute a small sum of money to grant a wish of a foster youth. One Simple Wish has an online directory of requests that case workers submit for their foster youth. The wishes are often the simple things – money to go to prom, dance lessons, money to pay for being on the school cheer leading squad, to name a few.
25. Get an email address for your kids and send them memories, achievements, awards, etc. Give them the address at 18.

26. Check in with someone. Recently an acquaintance emailed me just to see how I was doing. She said she hadn’t seen a blog post in a while and wanted to say “hi.” Although it was simply my work keeping me really busy, I thought it was really touching that she was concerned enough to reach out and check on me-it was quite touching indeed.
27. Loan money to a third world entrepreneur through Kiva. These tiny investments change the lives of the families who receive them, and in turn, their whole community. And, 99% of the loans are paid back.
28. On Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day, go to your local memorial or event and pass out mini flags or flowers to Veterans.

29. When a friend makes a meal that you love, ask for the recipe.
30. Teach someone. We can all teach something, and sometimes the small things make the biggest difference.
31. Invite someone to dinner – especially at the holidays, when it is difficult for some people to be alone.
32. Make a helpful introduction.
33. Buy a small gift for someone. Just because.
34. Share a great book you've read.

35. Don’t ignore the next homeless person you see. Buy him food. Enjoy his smile when you give it to him.
36. Carry around a care package of food or toiletries that you can give to a homeless person.
37. Let another car merge in front of you, or stop to let a pedestrian cross the street.
38. Hold the elevator. Are you really in that much of a rush that an extra minute will hurt you?

39. If you print an Internet coupon before going to a store, print a few extras to give to other customers.
40. In five minutes you can sign up to become an organ donor. Then, when you die (we all do eventually), your organs can be used to save lives. One person’s organs can save up to 8 lives.
41. If you see someone who looks lost and might need help with directions, don’t wait for him to ask you for help.
42. Photograph tourists. See a person or a couple trying to take a photo of themselves? Offer to take it for them.

43. Stop at a kid’s lemonade stand and buy a drink.
44. Leave a big tip.
45. Call someone you love. Tell him you love him.
46. Allow someone to help you. Let them enjoy performing an act of kindness.
47. Donate some extra money to charity; you never know the impact you might have.
48. Carry around a $5 gift card so you can give it to someone who does something awesome. Or, create and carry “thanks for making my day” cards that you can give to people.
49. Seek out an opportunity to help every day. Hold open a door, offer assistance, help someone trying to get a stroller down the steps or take any small acts of kindness.

50. Every small interaction with someone is an opportunity to have a positive impact on both of your lives.When you look, you’ll find opportunities to perform acts of kindness. When you take those opportunities to perform random acts of kindness, you’ll feel great. Trust me.

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