Phew, we made it. January is finally over. It felt like making it February wasn’t guaranteed a few times. If you’ve also been struggling, I hope the new month brings better things. I am by no means back in tip top condition, so I will be taking my return slow; bear with me. I thought I’d start with something that can make us all feel a little better.
Random acts of kindness are small things you do for strangers for no reason other than it’s nice to be nice. I often feel like I’m too small to make any lasting difference in our big messed up world. I think refocusing some of my efforts onto the wee picture can help. I feel less lost & hopefully the person on the receiving end feels good too. Keeping ourselves politically informed, active & compassionate can be exhausting. The feel good kick of helping someone out can go a long way to recharging our philanthropic batteries.
So, here are some simple & cheap tips for putting a smile on a stranger’s (& your own) face. These are all things I have personally tried or know of someone who had positive results. I will endeavour to tick off the whole list & repeat regularly!
Tackle Period Poverty
Period poverty is a multi layered issue. Domestically it seems that our governments are finally trying to tackle the problem by providing sanitary products in schools, council facilities etc. There are still lots of people who will fall through the gaps and struggle to access the specific products they need. I’ve found a simple way to tackle this directly is just to leave tampons, pads, wet wipes etc in public toilets. Homeless organisations have suggested that train/bus station facilities often used by those sleeping rough are good places to leave supplies. I also leave them in bars, restaurants, fast food places, shopping centres, anywhere I go really. I can think of so many situations in which someone might be unable to buy period products or even just be taken by surprise with a period. If enough of us leave a few pads or tampons on a regular basis, it could make a bad day a little better for lots of people.
Please & Thank you
Manners make a huge difference. Whether it’s a thank you to the stranger who held the door open or please to the person who got your coffee. It costs us nothing to be polite to each other. A smile or acknowledgement when you accidentally catch someone’s eye is much gentler than a scowl. I am not by any means saying we must all wander around being happy 24/7. I know life is hard, but just trying our utmost to be pleasant to those we come across makes the world a much less threatening place.
Taking the last suggestion a step further, please tip if you can. Unless someone is outright awful to me I always leave at least a little tip. Food service staff, taxi drivers, juniors in the beauty industry, all of those lovely people who deliver things right to your door! If someone goes the extra mile for you, bump up that tip.
Leave a little extra
If I buy something from a vending machine and don’t need the change for a specific purpose, I’ll just leave it there. I started when I was at hospital with my mum. After hours of waiting I was starving, nowhere was open & I had a long wait for a taxi. I only had £1 coin which didn’t go far in the vending machine. Lucky for me, some lovely soul had left their change. I was able to get a cup of tea & a nut bar, which went a long way that night. It struck me as a simple, but incredibly effective act of kindness.
It always saddens me when I visit somewhere beautiful and discover people have discarded litter. A really straightforward act of community spirit can be just to collect any litter you find when visiting beaches/parks and so on. Cleaned up beauty spots are much more enjoyable, plus safer for kids & wildlife.
Spread the love
Compliments can make a person’s day. I always feel great when a stranger gives me specific compliment. ‘I love your nails’ or ‘your shoes are pretty’, gives me such a boost. When it comes to strangers I think it’s safer to praise something in particular. Unknown folk saying you are pretty or similar can come off a little creepy. A smiley ‘great coat’ is much nicer. With people you know well, go for it. It feels good to know that someone genuinely likes your style.
Fill a stomach
If you want to help someone in need places like Social Bite are amazing. Social bite do lots of work to combat homelessness. They provide free meals, employment & have even built the social bite village to provide housing. When you buy lunch at their cafes you can order & pay for an extra lunch (or lunches) for a homeless person. Those in need can then claim one of those pre paid meals. If you just want to treat anyone you can simply pay for an extra coffee/cake and tell the cashier to give it to the next customer. I saw this happen in a coffee shop and the recipient of the cake was utterly delighted. The smile on their face must have been worth two quid of anyone’s money.
Grant a wish
This one is a little whimsical, but it appeals to my soppy side. Leave a jar of pennies by a wishing well or fountain. Thus ensuring anyone who wants to can make a wish. At least some of have to come true, right?
I hope you find these ideas inspiring. A little kindness goes a long way. We could probably all do with some extra good will.