Think about how good you feel when you walk into the office and your co-worker has a coffee waiting for you. Though it's a small gesture, it might be just the little boost you didn't even know you needed to put an extra pep in your step for the rest of the afternoon.
But as good as it feels to be on the receiving end of a kind gesture, it can feel even better to be the giver. And what better way to kick off the start of the holiday season than by making someone feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
In a society built on instant gratification, there is no quicker way to boost happiness than by being kind; the immense benefits of thoughtfulness, charitableness and compassion are powerful and instantaneous -- and contagious.
Research shows that kindness boosts our overall well-being, and that a good deed has some pretty major physiological benefits not only for just the recipient but for the giver, too. Therefore, it would behoove us all to show a little extra love and encouragement to those around us — and the best part is you can start right now!
1. Smile at a stranger
Sometimes the simplest things are the best things; making eye contact and flashing a smile at a stranger in the grocery store can increase feelings of social connectedness.
2. Give back
Studies show that our brains are hardwired for empathy, which is why giving back feels so good. Pick an organization that you're passionate about and donate what you feel comfortable giving; no contribution is too small!
3. Drop a bouquet of flowers off at your local hospital
There's no need for a name or room number — the nurses working that shift will immediately know which patient needs the flowers most to brighten up their circumstances.
4. Leave encouraging sticky notes in your wake
Grab a pen and a pack of sticky notes and leave positive, encouraging messages whenever the mood strikes you on bathroom mirrors both in public or in your own home. Everyone wants to see "You look beautiful!" unexpectedly written out every once in a while.
5. Thank those in uniform
Send a thank you note to the brave police officers and firefighters at your local stations. In a time of unrest and uncertainty, your kind words will go far in acknowledging the risks these noble men and women take for us every day.
6. Offer to carry someone's groceries
When you're at the grocery store and spot an elderly woman struggling to get around or a single mom with three kids and no extra hands, offer to help carry out her groceries or help her load her car.
7. Bake up a plate of happiness
If you find yourself with some downtime this weekend, bake a plate of muffins or cookies and leave them on your neighbor's front porch. Better yet, make extra and drop them off at a local shelter or group home.
8. Bring your partner coffee in bed
Acts of kindness don't have to be reserved for just strangers; be sure to take care of your loved ones, too. Surprise your partner with a warm mug of their favorite homemade latte delivered to them from the comfort of their warm and cozy bed — and don't forget the extra whipped cream.
9. Order dessert for the table next to you
If you're out to dinner this weekend, order a delicious dessert to be sent to another table around you anonymously before you leave.
10. Give yourself a compliment
It may sound silly, but look in the mirror and tell yourself one nice thing — and it can't be about appearance. Being kind to yourself, loving yourself and acknowledging your own positive qualities is vital to happiness.