One of my favorite columns in Woman’s Day is the Kindness Project. The idea behind it is very simple: we showcase our readers’ kind acts toward others. The column is one of the most popular in the magazine, and we always have a steady stream of submissions from people eager to share their good deeds.
As the idea of turning the column into a book took shape, I began to gather more stories and to ask others how they had witnessed and experienced kindness. I found myself totally immersed in generosity, and it had a wonderful effect. I was more attuned to kindness around me and noticed kind acts almost every day: a man helping an elderly stranger into a seat on a bus, a bunch of zinnias from a community garden appearing on a sick neighbor’s doorstep.
I came to realize that this book isn’t just about kindness. It’s about the instinct to reach out to others to connect and the warmth we feel when we genuinely help someone. It’s about forgiveness, civility, mercy, and love. A single act of kindness, whether to a friend or a stranger, can become a spool of generosity that unwinds and touches the lives of so many.
Kindness is exactly what we need in our fractured world right now—it provides the simplest path to healing. Let’s all begin! Here, 31 days of good deeds to get you started.
Share the savings! If you have extra coupons you’re not using at the register, give them to the people in line behind you.
Each week, starting in January, put $1 in a Christmas jar. Two weeks before Christmas, you’ll have $50. Pick up a $50 gift certificate from a grocery store and give it anonymously to a family who can’t afford food for the holidays.
Offer to be the official photographer at a birthday party, reunion, anniversary, or family vacation. Sometimes people are too busy enjoying themselves or hosting to record the event.
Plant a tree with your family.
Call your parents and your grandparents regularly.
On the first day of spring, leave a basket full of bulbs on a neighbor’s doorstep with a note offering to plant them.
Make a kid giggle by tucking a piece of paper with a sweet note inside the sandwich in her lunch box.
Leave a love note on your spouse’s pillow with a few chocolates.
Just say hello. Add a smile and you’ve doubled your kindness quotient for the day.
Every so often, write and mail a quick, cheery note to an elderly friend or neighbor.
Call your local children’s hospital and ask if there are any kids who are in particular need of a pick-me-up. Swing by with a pile of books and read to them.
Courtesy counts: Help an elderly person up a staircase.
Hello, cupid! Set up two people you think would make a great romantic match.
Buy extra umbrellas and keep them in your car. When you see someone caught in a downpour, hand one over.
Take the time to sit down and pen a handwritten thank-you note. It’s a lost art that is so appreciated.
Grab some slips of paper and on each one, write down something you love about a friend or loved one. Roll them up and put them in a jar. Then give the jar to your friend with instructions to read one every Monday morning for a start-of-the-week pick-me-up.
Put some extra change into a random parking meter.
Buy a bunch of balloons and hand them out to kids (and adults!) at a local playground.
Surprise an office buddy with a cup of coffee.
“During the year I buy all sizes of gloves and mittens when they’re on sale. Then at Halloween I fill them with candy and give them out to the trick-or-treaters who come to my door. This way they get both treats and something to keep their hands warm.”
Set up a sign that says “Stop and chat!” and a couple of chairs on your street corner or in your local park for anyone who might want to take a break on a busy day.
Dogs and cats need kindness too! Take your family to visit a local animal shelter. Even if you can’t take a pet home, you can play with them for an hour.
Bring a box of doughnuts to your town administrator’s office or police or fire station.
Leave a bouquet of flowers at a friend’s doorstep, ring the doorbell, and then run like crazy.
Go to the playground with bottles of bubbles, large pieces of chalk, and stickers, and leave them in a central location for kids to help themselves.
Play board games with a senior citizen at a nursing home.
“After hearing about kids who lost their possessions in a fire, we collected more than 1,000 stuffed animals and then gave them to our local fire department. Now when the firefighters respond to a fire, they can give the kids something to hold on to.”
“I love to knit ruffled scarves. When I wear them, I get lots of compliments. Needless to say, I rarely come home with a scarf. Giving them away randomly is a great joy to me and a surprising delight to the recipient.”
When you’re done with a great book, give it to a friend you think would enjoy it.
Go caroling around your neighborhood with friends to spread holiday cheer. (And throw in some hot mulled cider for your fellow singers when you’re done.)