Updated: Jul 31, 2019
I recently listened to an amazing TED talk by Drew Dudley about small actions that have a big impact (it's only six minutes and a super worthwhile watch - check it out). He tells the story about how one of his College students came up to him upon graduating, telling him how a brief interaction they had during orientation week made a significant impact on her life. The funny thing is: he doesn't remember it. In fact, that "life-changing" interaction was the only conversation the two ever had.
Drew reminds us that sometimes the small things we do can have a tremendous impact. In another blogpost I call this "collateral impact". And in the honor of collateral impact I have made a list of actions that that don't take much effort, don't cost any money and that anyone can do to make the world a better place.
Kindness is Free
13 Acts of Kindness that cost nothing
Messages of Kindness:
Remind someone that they are loved and amazing
You can do this via text messages, sticky notes on doors, emails, in person...
I promise, these messages always arrives in the right moments
A great way to stay in touch with long-distance friends
If you don't do anything else - do this!
It doesn't cost you anything and could save three lives! You just go, sit on a bed for a few minutes and then leave. A friend of mine once called it "The laziest rescue".
If you take a friend along, this can be a unique bonding experience!
Tell three people every day about something nice they are wearing, something cool they did etc. I am sometimes so hesitant to compliment people because I am afraid they think I am weird. The thing is. People really, hardly ever do. I promise.
Write love letters to people who need them
The project "The World Needs More Love Letters" is an inspiring initiative that allows people to nominate friends and family members who are having a hard time to receive caring letters written by volunteers and college student groups. Get together with your friends or dedicate an hour of your Saturday to bring joy to strangers whose lives will be moved by your kindness.
Ask someone to join you
This is particularly impactful at university or school: If you are going somewhere, ask around whether someone wants to come along. People are lonely!
Remember things people tell you
When someone tells you they are sick or just waiting for a response from a job. Set a reminder on your phone to text/ask them whether they are feeling better or how things turned out. You will see how people lighten up knowing that you remembered and care!
Use change-making apps
Check out my blogpost about apps that help you make a difference using only your fingertips
Write loving postcards to hospitalized children
There are various websites where volunteers can lift the spirits and share love by sending postcards to kids in hospitals. In the UK there is Postpals, in the US there is Cards for Hospitalized Kids and Cardz for Kidz also operates internationally.
But you can also email a hospital close to you whether they would like to receive some letters? Who knows - you could bring this initiative to your country!
Email/Call/Write a letter to your grandparents
When I was in my last year of High School I had this sudden burst of motivation to develop an email relationship with my grandmother. I live halfway across the world and in the beginning it felt a little weird - she didn't know me that well. But over the following months, I started sharing more and so did she. She became my "internet grandmother", always a listening, always loving. My grandfather - her husband - passed away about three months after I started this and I am incredibly grateful to know that she now regularly has my emails to wake up to. It's been about a year, we have grown much closer and I still email her multiple times per week.
Ask "What can I do for you?" (instead of "Let me know if you need help")
I used to tell people "Let me know if I can help you with anything" but I noticed that people hardly ever do - they don't want to bother you. So I started asking specifics: "What can I do for you? You want me to bring you some food? Do you need something from the store?"
Even if people still thankfully decline - you showed that you care and that goes a long way
And: follow up after a few days. Are you feeling better? Is there something I can do now? Obviously don't annoy people but be kind :)
Thank people who have been kind to you
In my blogpost "Collateral Impact" I talk about how we often don't see the positive effects our actions have - let's change that and thus encourage people to continue to do good.
Don't gossip. Don't judge. Don't interrupt.
(And even if you do) Be kind to yourself
This is incredibly important. Because you cannot pour from an empty coup. (Trust me, I've tried) Make sure you are at peace. Then you will naturally be kind to others
Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful.
Take time to just relax, reflect and heal. Don't hate yourself.
Write down three things you are grateful for every day. It significantly increases mental health!
So, I know these things sound super obvious. Yet, so few of us are actually doing these things. A simple smile and good morning in the bathroom. A genuine "how are you?" can be the start of a long-lasting relationship!