Little Things Count

Little Things Count – A Lot More Than You’d Expect

Would you like to make a positive impact in someone’s life but think it would probably take months, even years to bring that about? 

Well, surprise!  Research has shown that as little as 30 seconds of kindness and compassion can actually change lives.  

Most people don’t think much about the random acts of kindness they may do now and then – such small gestures cost little to nothing in time and money, but they bring joy to the ones who receive them, strengthening relationships and improving wellbeing.  And they’re also contagious – stop to let someone in front of you in traffic then watch behind you and you’ll probably see someone else doing the same thing! 

Studies find that people greatly underestimate the value of their casual acts of kindness, while those on the receiving end report stronger positive feelings than expected.  Has someone ever let you go ahead of them in the checkout line when you had only 1 or 2 items?  Think back – didn’t you feel ridiculously grateful and as though there might actually be some decency in the world?!  I once had an orthopedic surgeon give me a hug before going into surgery because I was terrified.  That simple act of compassion gave me some sanity back and allowed me to calm down and breathe again.  And the human connection probably did his blood pressure some good too….

Who you are or who you know doesn’t matter, just what you do.  Think about some small kindness you could do for someone and picture their reaction.  Try to imagine how they would feel about it.  Then double or triple your estimate of the effect, since we usually greatly underestimate the positive impact of something that costs so little!  Wouldn’t that be worth taking a few minutes for? 

Here are some ideas to try, and once you get started you’ll come up with many more of your own:

  • Write a note of encouragement to someone who’s going through a hard time.
  • Better yet, go in person and take food!
  • Tell someone who achieved a goal that you’re proud of them.
  • Check in with a friend who recently had health issues.
  • Compliment a coworker whose style you admire.
  • Buy stamps and give them to someone who can’t drive or get to the mailbox. 
  • Take their mail to the mailbox next time you go.  
  • Let someone go ahead of you in line – it won’t kill you and you might even feel virtuous. 
  • Use your turn signal! 
  • Thank a cashier for working on a holiday.  
  • Thank your parents – just because. 
  • Picture really annoying people as the sad little kids they are inside. 
  • Then share a smile with them.  
  • Send Valentines.  (They don’t have to be romantic.)

You may never know how much of a difference these small things make in someone’s life, but isn’t it worth doing it just to lighten up a little bit in a world that can be pretty hard on everyone?