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18 ideas for paying it forward in 2018

Mind, Body

We could all use a little more kindness and happiness in our lives, but did you know there are health benefits to sharing the love? Research has found that people who engage in consistent acts of kindness become happier over time. When you are kind to others, you feel good about yourself—and this emotional warmth is proven to release oxytocin, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure and depression.

With that in mind, here are 18 simple ideas for paying it forward in 2018:

  1. Pay for the drink or snack of the person behind you. What’s a few extra dollars when you can brighten someone’s day? Who knows – it could be the act of kindness that touches their life for years to come. 
  2. Smile at someone, or hold the door open for them. You’ll see many people loosen up and return the smile.
  3. Drop a quarter into an expired parking meter. Everyone loves a meter fairy!
  4. Send a care package to an active-duty military unit. Care packages enhance the morale and well-being of deployed troops worldwide, and programs are in place to allow you to send the specific items they’ve requested. Find more information here.
  5. Donate books you no longer read. Jails and prisons are a good place to donate books; self-help books, in particular, are always a good choice to make a positive influence on those looking to turn over a new leaf.
  6. Give a friend, neighbor or colleague some words of encouragement. People around you might be dealing with things you aren’t aware of. If you sense something is off, don’t just walk by. Be the one who helps them get back up.
  7. Leave a generous tip for a kind server. Leave as much of a tip as you can afford, but make sure it is above and beyond the normal. An added bonus: leave a nice note thanking them for their amazing service.
  8. Give up your seat. Offer your seat to someone who is standing and they will likely appreciate the good deed.
  9. Buy food for someone who needs it. If you see a homeless person, ask them if they want a drink, a slice of pizza, or something to eat from the supermarket. The options are endless.
  10. Return lost items. It can sometimes be tempting to adhere to “finders keepers” logic, but consider how you would feel if you lost the item. It’s always best to be honest.
  11. Donate blood. By donating a pint of blood, you are potentially saving up to three lives.
  12. Be willing to listen. Listening shows that you care. If someone has a problem, you don’t need to find a solution—just be a listening ear.
  13. Help carry bags. Whether in a parking lot or up the stairs at your apartment, if someone is struggling to carry bags, offer to help.
  14. Let someone cut in line. If it looks like someone is in a hurry or has small children, they will be grateful to get in and out quickly.
  15. Offer to take a family photo for someone. Sometimes people are reluctant to ask a stranger to take a picture, so take the initiative and do a good deed.
  16. Replace something you’ve used. For example, at the office, fill up the copier or printer with paper after you’re done using it.
  17. Help someone get your parking space in a crowded parking lot when you’re leaving. Taking the time to help a stranger can make a lasting impression.
  18. Drop off leftover food to a nearby homeless shelter. Had a dinner party with too many leftovers? This is the perfect way to make sure the food doesn’t go to waste.

Consider this: If you pay it forward to three people, and those three people pay it forward to three others, you could be setting off a chain reaction that transforms the world! Wouldn’t that make for an incredible year?