November has been a real doozy. We could all stand to feel a little warm and fuzzy right about now.
Luckily, World Kindness Day, occurs in November. Paired with Thanksgiving, there is no better time than now to spread some generosity and kindness.
Below are just a few ways we can exercise our kindness muscles this weekend and beyond: don't forget to get your kids in on it!
1. Smile (or even wave!) at a stranger.
Go on a walk with your kids and encourage them to smile and wave at anyone you pass by. Try not to avoid eye contact. Research shows exchanging a smile with a stranger can increase feelings of social connectedness.
2. Hold a door open for someone and tell them to have a nice day.
Simple? Yes. Powerful? Absolutely.
3. Donate money to a personally meaningful organization.
No contribution is too small. Have your kids collect coins and bring them by to donate them. Research shows that human beings are made for empathy, which could explain why we feel compelled to take action for others when we feel there's some sort of injustice at play.
4. Offer someone a genuine compliment.
"Your sweater looks pretty" is nice, but try digging a little deeper. Encourage your kids to think of something nice and meaningful to say to those in their life. Meaningful praise can go a long way. Here are a few suggestions.
Give back to people (or animals!) in need. Research suggests volunteering can make us happier and even reduce symptoms of depression. Don't forget to bring the kids along!
6. Write a thank you note to someone.
It's time to let people in our lives know how much we care about them. Putting pen (or pencil or crayon) to paper can also be therapeutic and studies suggest gratitude in general can boost well-being.
7. Forgive someone.
There's power in forgiveness. Spread kindness by extending it to someone you once thought didn't deserve it. This is a great thing to role model to you children. Research shows letting go of a grudge can also benefit your emotional and physical health.
8. Help someone who looks like they're struggling.
It's a fast, yet feel-good way to make a small difference: help a mom carry her stroller down the subway stairs or hand $5 to a homeless person who looks like they could use a meal.
9. Give a loved one a hug.
Human beings thrive on intimacy. Studies suggest hugs can lower blood pressure. alleviate fear and reduce stress. This is something you don't want to force children to do, but let them participate if you want to!
10. Take a dog for a long walk.
Dogs love us unconditionally. Give them some love back by spending a little extra time with them, whether it's your own dog, your neighbor's dog or volunteering to help out a shelter. Pets can reduce feelings of loneliness and lower blood pressure.
11. Look in the mirror and say one nice thing.
Bonus points if it has nothing to do with your appearance. Research shows self-acceptance could be a huge key to a happier life, but it's a habit we practice the least. Kindness should be extended everywhere and to everyone.
We deserve it.