While it certainly feels great to have good things come your way, paying it forward has proven mental health benefits. A generous, compassionate spirit is known to boost dopamine while decreasing stress and provides a sense of meaning and gratitude in our own life. While conventional actions include donating to a charity, helping out your local homeless population, or just making someone’s face light up with words of kindness, paying it forward is a win-win situation for everybody. Here are simple pay-it-forward actions you can do to flex those kindness muscles and make someone’s day just a little bit better.
Hold the door open
This is a pay-it-forward action that requires very little effort and no money. It’s a gesture that shows someone that they matter, in a world when we’re often too rushed and stressed to think about the people around us.
Buy the person behind you a coffee
While you might not know their order, you can always leave a $5 or $10 behind at the coffee shop to buy the person behind you a drink. Getting caffeinated is what kickstarts many people’s days, and knowing that the person in front of you cared enough to take care of it can really make a difference.
Let someone cut in front of you
Whether it’s at the grocery store or the bank, you might make someone’s day by saving them a few extra minutes – if you can afford it. If you’re not in a rush, why not do this small act of kindness for someone else?
Give words of encouragement
If someone’s having a bad day or not feeling motivated, pay them a compliment or give them some positive words of encouragement to uplift their spirits. We all have bad days and they pass, but if someone is there to help remind us of good human nature in low moments, you can be the thing that helps them smile.
Cook for someone
While this can certainly be for a friend or loved one, you can also cook a meal for a local homeless person or an elderly person who has trouble getting to the grocery store. Cooking is an act that feels amazing in itself; blessing someone else with that delicious meal feels even better.
Shop at a local charity thrift shop
Yes, even shopping can be an act of kindness – if proceeds are going to the right place. Head to your local charity thrift shop and know that your dollars are going to help someone in need.
Offer your seat to someone on the bus or train
If you ever take public transit, help someone out by donating your seat. On a crowded vehicle at rush hour, this can help reduce someone’s stress or anxiety by a lot. If you’re able-bodied and it’s just a minor inconvenience, why not give up your seat?
Donate cat or dog food to an animal shelter
Humans aren’t the only ones who deserve acts of kindness. Be sure to call the shelter first to ask what specifically is needed. Post-pandemic, a lot of animal shelters are struggling, and helping out your local cats and dogs can be a truly significant act that shelter workers appreciate.
Donate to the Princess Project
If you or anyone in your family have a gently used prom dress, party dress, or accessory that they aren’t likely to use again, donate it to the Princess Project to help provide teens in need with an outfit for formal events. It’s an inspiring way to breed self-confidence in young girls.