Kindness is for the cause, not the applause

Kindness is more than a selfless act. Research shows when we are kind to others, we make ourselves more happy. 

Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. It is an interpersonal skill that often requires courage or strength as well as an intrapersonal skill that directly impacts self-esteem and self-confidence. The important thing is kindness is a skill, which can be practiced and polished at every stage of development.

With that in mind - and in conjunction with Random Act of Kindness Day on February 17 - here are 101 ideas on how you can practice kindness as part of your typical routine.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas
  1. Speak with a stranger who looks like they don't know anyone.
  2. Smile at others (in the hallway, in an elevator, at the store, etc.).
  3. Pay for the meal of the person or persons at a neighboring table. (Leave the restaurant before they realize what you've done.)
  4. Help someone struggling to carry packages or groceries.
  5. Give up your seat on public transit to allow travelers to sit together.
  6. Give up your seat to someone who looks tired.
  7. Leave a positive comment on a news article, blog post or social media status.
  8. Pass along a compliment to the boss of a helpful service worker.
  9. Send a care package to someone in the military.
  10. Donate gently used clothing or other household items to a charitable thrift shop.
  11. Give old blankets, sheets and towels to a local animal shelter.
  12. Bring a favorite treat to work and leave it in the breakroom.
  13. Become a mentor.
  14. Write a thank-you note to someone who has helped you in your career.
  15. Compliment a neighbor on some aspect of their home or property.
  16. Establish a free little library in your yard.
  17. Tell the school principal how much you appreciate your child's teacher.
  18. Call a relative just to say I love you.
  19. Write an encouraging note and place it in your child's lunch box or your spouse's work bag.
  20. Let go of a long-standing grudge.
  21. Share a meaningful book with a friend.
  22. Sign up to volunteer with a local nonprofit organization.
  23. Become an organ donor.
  24. Offer to return a stranger's cart to the front of the store or to a parking lot corral.
  25. Pick up and throw away litter on the sidewalk.
  26. Say something encouraging to a parent struggling with rowdy children.
  27. Keep traffic flowing by allowing cars to merge.
  28. Hold doors open for others.
  29. Shovel a neighbor's driveway or sidewalk after it snows.
  30. Give neighbors a coupon for an evening of free babysitting.
  31. Let someone else choose what to watch on television.
  32. Take the time to listen to and empathize with someone struggling.
  33. Leave coins beside a wishing fountain.
  34. Keep your word.
  35. Donate your hair after a significant cut.
  36. Offer to stay late and help a co-worker.
  37. Buy an extra bottle of dish or hand soap and give it to your neighbor or a local shelter.
  38. Text a compliment to a friend.
  39. Write random messages of encouragement or kindness in sidewalk chalk.
  40. Share your toys.
  41. Leave your change in the vending machine.
  42. Organize a flash mob.
  43. Offer others the benefit of the doubt.
  44. Attend the event or game of your friend's child.
  45. Make a point of thanking those who make your life easier (custodians, firefighters, police officers, garbage collectors, etc.)
  46. Celebrate a holiday or tradition of a culture different from your own.
  47. Wave hello to strangers.
  48. Practice spinning negative thoughts about yourself or others into something positive. (Is he emotional or passionate? Is she aggressive or ambitious?)
  49. Take an unobserved and complimentary photo of a friend and send it to them.
  50. Refuse to gossip.
  51. Share homemade food.
  52. Full-heartedly celebrate someone's success.
  53. Offer PTO to a co-worker who needs it.
  54. Allow someone to cut in front of you in line.
  55. Offer to mow your elderly neighbor's lawn.
  56. Invite a friend you haven't seen in awhile out to lunch.
  57. Address cashiers, wait staffers and other people in service professions with their name.
  58. Hide a positive note in a library book.
  59. Donate to a local food pantry.
  60. Reach out to a former teacher or professor and let them know how they've positively impacted your life.
  61. Give bottles of water to outdoor workers on a hot day.
  62. Cook or deliver dinner to a family with a new baby.
  63. Cover a co-worker's shift.
  64. Take care of the children or do some other household task so your partner can relax or go out.
  65. Be there for the funeral and put a note on your calendar to follow-up several weeks later.
  66. Learn CPR.
  67. Donate flowers or your time and talents to a local nursing home.
  68. Buy a gift card and hand it to someone coming into the coffee shop as you are leaving.
  69. Participate in a charity walk.
  70. Buy lemonade from a kid's stand.
  71. Plant a tree.
  72. Always say "please" and "thank you."
  73. Participate in work-related or neighborhood activities.
  74. Curate a playlist for a friend.
  75. Return stray grocery carts.
  76. Offer to take a photograph of a family or couple.
  77. Write a positive online review.
  78. Hang a bird feeder in your yard.
  79. Recycle. Reuse.
  80. Take care of yourself physically and mentally.
  81. Stand up for someone being mistreated.
  82. Leave a big tip.
  83. Thank others for sharing their feelings with you.
  84. Show your appreciation by doing one of your partner's least favorite chores.
  85. When someone is troubled and you don't know what to do, ask "How can I help?"
  86. Give someone your famous recipe.
  87. Practice patience.
  88. Thank others for their time.
  89. Send a framed family photo to your parents or grandparents.
  90. Make a list of five things you are grateful for.
  91. Surprise someone with a thoughtful, inexpensive gift.
  92. Resolve to be less judgmental.
  93. Tell a joke and make someone laugh.
  94. Assure yourself you can by signing up for a free class or workshop to learn something new.
  95. Think of and implement ways you can be more inclusive at work or in your community.
  96. Arrange a romantic date night with your partner.
  97. Buy take-out coffee for your team and write words of encouragement on the lids.
  98. Leave small toys in a public sandbox or bottles of bubbles at a local park.
  99. Collect baby supplies and clothing and donate them to new parents or local women's and children's shelters.
  100. Bring a pot of something delicious to an elderly neighbor and stay for a chat.
  101. Acknowledge kindness when you encounter it.