Every year, it’s the same thing: on New Year’s Eve you make your resolutions for the upcoming year, and they usually involve self-improvement or self-focus. But what if this New Year’s is different? What if you make it a year of focusing on others? What if your resolutions consist of doing acts of kindness on purpose? If you’re game, here are some kindness ideas to get you started.
Everyone knows a shut-in or someone who has little social contact. Chances are the person receives few phone calls and even fewer personal letters. If the person is computer literate and has Internet services, consider sending a periodic e-mail to encourage or cheer him or her. But better yet, consider using snail-mail. Write that personal letter or card by hand and mail it. Getting personal mail, especially when one feels isolated, is a wonderful feeling. This simple act of kindness, costing a mere stamp and several minutes of your time, can be of so much worth.
Trading Places and Assisting
Do you know a caregiver? Do you know a mom with several children? Give a caregiver or a mom the day off. Offer to fill in for him or her for the day, or offer to assist on an outing. Sometimes moms with lots of little kids don’t get out much, because it’s too much work. And caregivers with a lot to consider before an outing, might dearly love to attend a play or concert or movie. But the logistics needed to make that happen are stressful and sometimes not worth the effort. Helping a caregiver or a mom with several little children is an act of kindness that you might not have thought of before, but one that would be so appreciated.
Watching for Needs
Kindness comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s just helping out, noticing when someone could really use your help. Here are a few examples: washing a car, walking a dog, cutting some wood, mowing the grass, painting a room, moving garbage containers to and from the street, washing windows, or cleaning out gutters. These tasks may go undone because of a person’s physical limitation or time limitation. If you step in to help, it’s one thing of stress removed for another person, and it’s your joy experienced in giving.
Paying the Bill
When financial resources are strapped, bills may go unpaid. One act of kindness is to cover the expense of another. You might consider paying the electric bill for a person in need. You might purchase a shopping card for a given amount and mail it a person anonymously. When dining out, if you see a young couple that could use a financial boost, consider paying their dinner bill as a surprise. Some of the most honorable acts of kindness are anonymous ones, ones for which you don’t get credit.
The Little Things
It’s often the little things that make a difference: the batch of cookies you take to someone, the bag of disposable diapers you pick up to help a new mom, the grocery cart you offer to return when someone is done loading groceries into his or her car, the game of cards you play with a brain-injured fellow, or the ride you offer a person without any hope of payback. These and others like it are acts of kindness you might include in your New Year’s resolution, if you are resolving to be more responsive to the needs of others.