Do you want to know how to be nice to others? It seems some people have a knack for kindness, empathy, and compassion, whereas others have to work at being nice. That’s OK!
Whether being nice comes naturally to you or not—no judgement! I’m here to help.
This also led me to wonder: what is kindness and how do we capture more of it in our life authentically. I want to give you some nice tips:
- What kindness is
- How to take on the kindness challenge
- The benefits of being kind
- How to be a nicer person
- 62 random acts of kindness ideas
- The best quotes of kindness
Are you ready to dive into kindness? Let’s start!
What is Kindness? (Definition)
Kindness is the act of helping others and not expecting anything in return. Being kind is one of the best ways to make others feel happy. People who are kind are usually characterized as being warm, friendly, helpful, and gentle.
Sometimes it’s hard to define kindness, as some people confuse it with empathy. But here’s an added benefit of kindness: it not only helps others— it helps you, too!
A number of studies have found that being kind to others is the secret to living a fulfilling life.
Kindness is the key to authentically being a better person. I want to teach you how to be a better person using a kindness challenge.
Science of People Presents… The Kindness Challenge!
What is a Kindness Challenge?
A challenge someone takes to complete random acts of kindness. The goal is to spread happiness and gratitude to friends, family, and even complete strangers.
As a result, we have infused kindness into everything we teach here at Science of People. It fuels nearly everything we do! Whether we’re creating content about body language, personality, helpful skills, or pieces to make your day a bit more interesting… our goal is to help you live a better, more successful life, so you can learn how to be nice and share your knowledge, joy, and success with the people around you!
To help show you how to be a better person, I partnered with my friend Michelle Poler from Hello Fears. Michelle is not only one of the kindest people I know, but she also did her own personal challenge of conquering 100 fears in 100 days! She is both kind and courageous.
Since one of her biggest fears is talking to strangers, we decided to approach dozens of strangers in New York to spread more kindness and conquer her fear at the same time! This is our kindness challenge.
Now that you’ve seen our kindness challenge… it’s your turn! Below, we’ve got a list of 62 ways you can perform random acts of kindness. See how many of these acts you can check off your list. You can even set yourself a goal to do one every day for 30 days!
Before we head to the list, let’s see why kindness is an essential part of our lives.
Why is Kindness Important?
For decades, researchers have wondered why humans are driven to be kind to one another. After all, we’re just like the other animals, and you don’t see them giving each other chocolate on Valentine’s day.
And unlike most other creatures, we happily invest our time, energy, and resources in helping others when there is no obvious benefit for ourselves. So why are we kind?
In their search to understand what fuels human compassion, researchers discovered that there are several benefits of kindness. Here’s how kindness can improve your life:
Kindness is Contagious
Have you ever bought someone lunch? Opened the door for someone? Or simply “paid it forward?” According to science, your simple act of kindness might have rippled out in a “contagious” wave, creating even more kindness in the world! Yay for you!
Cooperative behavior, according to a 2008 study conducted by the University of California San Diego and Harvard University, can spread from one person to another up to three degrees of separation! In other words…
Your kindness can spread from person… to person… to person!
People can literally catch kindness! Furthermore, you don’t even have to witness these acts of kindness first hand.
Kindness Makes You Relationship Material
According to a 2019 study by the Journal of Personality, researchers gathered 2,700 college students from 5 different countries and asked them what their most important characteristics were in a lifelong partner.
Can you guess which characteristic was the most important? Out of the characteristics of physical attractiveness, financial prospects, kindness, humor, chastity, religiosity, the desire to have children, and creativity, the winner was…. kindness. Being kind is a universally attractive quality!
Kindness Reduces the Effects of Stress
Next time you’re having a chaotic day, take a breather and do a random act of kindness.
Being Kind Improves Your Mood
Not only does being kind help alleviate your bad mood when you are stressed, but it also helps you experience more positive emotions, too!
Research has shown that doing random acts of kindness triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood stability.
Being kind to others also boosts your oxytocin, a hormone that makes you feel connected to other people. Combined, this one-two serotonin-oxytocin punch has the effect of making you feel loved and emotionally stable when you are nice to others.
Being Nice Boosts Your Immune System
While stress has the unfortunate ability to make us get sick at the worst of times, engaging in acts of kindness has the opposite effect.
Research shows that older people who volunteered for 2 or more organizations had an impressive 44% lower likelihood of dying early.
Further research has also shown that being kind to others activates a part of the brain that boosts immunity. Take that, bad guys!
Acts of Kindness Help with Social Anxiety
One of the biggest obstacles that prevents people from overcoming their social anxiety is poor first impressions. You see, as a recovering awkward-anxious person, I’ve had my fair share of anxiety-ridden social interactions that just made others think I was super weird. And these bad first impressions only left me feeling more fearful and frustrated for future social interactions!
Can you relate?
But it doesn’t have to be this way. If trying to make new friends makes you anxious, then use kindness as your perfect conversation starter! Kindness can be one of the best ways to conquer your social anxiety.
Kindness is the best way to be charismatic.
One study found that when socially anxious people approached others with acts of kindness, it helped them overcome their fears! Why is this?
It’s simple: when people receive acts of kindness, they usually respond with positivity. This creates a positive feedback loop rather than a negative one, making your future social interactions that much easier! And finally…
Being a Better Person Increases Your Energy and Confidence
The benefits of being nice don’t stop there. The social approval, the feel-good vibes of helping others, the warm smile given to you from other people’s gratitude… There’s something thrilling and deeply satisfying about making other people happy. It just feels right.
And here’s more good news: that joy also translates into some super helpful benefits for you! Being kind makes you, according to kindness science, more energetic and increases your sense of self-worth.
By now you’ve realized that being kind not only helps others but can also drastically improve your life as well. The question is, what makes nice people… well, nice?
How to Be Nice with 62 Random Acts of Kindness Ideas
We know that life is busy, so we divided this kindness challenge into four different categories. Choose an idea from the list, or create a challenge of your own!
No matter what you do, be sure to share your acts of kindness on social media with #kindnesschallenge to encourage your friends to join in the challenge.
How to Be Kind… From Your House
Ok, let’s start easy. Most people think kind is about BIG gestures. I want to start with kind acts you can do right from the comfort of your own home. Even if you are far away from your friends and family, you can still show them kindness from the comfort of your own home. Here are some virtual kindness ideas you can do:
- Go through your photo albums and send your friends pictures of your favorite moments together. Bonus: Print up a postcard of your favorite photo and mail it to them.
- Order someone surprise food delivery with Uber Eats or Grab Food.
- Transcribe historical documents for the Smithsonian, or try another way to volunteer virtually.
- Remember mixtapes? Create a playlist for a friend or family member and tell them why each song reminded you of them.
- Send your friends and family a unique or hilarious gift through Amazon.
- Host your own story or unique experience with strangers via AirBnB experiences.
- Send your close ones a virtual recording of a song you played or sang (the funnier the better).
- Join an online forum like Reddit’s r/RandomKindness and gift someone in need.
- Send a virtual course to someone to develop their skills and offer to be their learning buddy to take it together.
- Go on a virtual date with your long distance partner or ask a crush to have a virtual happy hour date with you.
- Give a digital thank you
Can’t give a physical gift? No problem! One school curriculum program developed by Giacomo Bono in Oakland, California used a digital thank-you note and reflection tool called GiveThx. This tool was completely virtual: students and staff in the school were able to pick a person, send them a digital thank-you note, and select a reason for the note, such as for listening or kindness.
The results of the study showed significant positive results—in life and friendship, a stronger sense of belonging, and less stress and anxiety. Sending a simple thank-you to someone through text or email is a great way to show appreciation and build your own kindness!
How to Be A Better Person in Five Minutes
If you’re tight on time, a five minute favor is the challenge for you. Here are a couple of quick ways you can be a better person:
- Write someone a thank-you card for a time when they were kind to you.
- Call your mom and tell her you love her.
- Make an introduction to two people who should know each other.
- Send someone flowers who would never expect it.
- Compliment a stranger who looks like they’re having a rough day.
- Open the door or hold the elevator for someone.
- Pay for someone else’s meal or groceries.
- Offer to take a photo for a family or a couple.
- Tip your waitress or server for their service.
- Find the car of your partner / roommate / parents / best friend / colleagues and take it to the car wash (or give it a quick clean yourself!).
Your turn: Brainstorm other quick ways you can make someone’s day.
How to Be Nicer in One Hour
If you really want to be nicer, try committing to one hour of kindness. Here are some kindness ideas:
- Write 5 nice recommendations on LinkedIn for people you have worked with.
- Update a public computer with a nice sticky note or to-do list. Here’s an example of a list I created at my local Apple store:
- Write a glowing review of your 5 favorite books on Amazon.
- Become a gift-giver. Have you ever heard the quote, “It is better to give than to receive?” Well, science proves that to be true. In a 2018 study by the Journal of the Association for Psychological Science, those who gave gifts to others were happier—and happier for longer—than those who received gifts. Giving is one of the best ways, according to a study by the University of Zurich, to increase those parts of the brain associated with altruism and happiness.
- Micro give. You don’t have to give big gifts to be more kind. According to the above-mentioned Individual Giving Study, micro giving is also positively correlated with kindness behaviors—micro givers tend to engage in more ways of giving (an average of 2.5 types) compared to people who were not micro givers (only 1.3 types). Not a big giver? Try giving in just small amounts—giving candy to your niece, buying someone a small cup of coffee, or even donating some spare change once in a while are all ways of micro giving.
- Start a Reciprocity Ring. A reciprocity ring is when you ask, share and provide resources to the people in your life. Check out the one we started on Facebook:
- Write a glowing review of your favorite restaurants on Yelp or Google Maps.
- Buy someone coffee and ask them a deep conversation starter, so they feel heard.
- Buy donuts or candy for your coworkers.
- Mow your neighbor’s lawn or shovel their snow.
- Give someone in need a ride to the airport.
- Do extra chores so whoever you’re living with has one less thing to worry about.
- Make a meal for a friend or family member going through a difficult time.
How to Show Kindness in One Day
This challenge is perfect for when you have a day off work and want to make a significant impact on someone’s life. Choose a cause that you feel passionate about and commit to spending the better part of a day serving it. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Volunteering doesn’t mean working for free— it means giving back to the community that has grown you food, built your home, and helped you become the person you are today. We talked earlier about how volunteering helps you live longer. Volunteering also helps you become more kind! According to the 2018 Individual Giving Study, volunteers are twice as likely to be an advocate for a cause compared to non-volunteers.
- Buy holiday gifts for friends and family ahead of time.
- Hide random gifts around the city and play scavenger hunt with your friends.
- Use your work skills to offer free professional services to a nonprofit.
- Join a religious event or gathering.
- Join a class as a teacher’s assistant.
- Draw awareness and participate in a charity run.
- Give out flowers to random strangers on the street.
- Help out on a local farm via workaway.
- Read an uplifting fiction book.
- Get together with a group of friends, coworkers, or family to clean up a local park.
- Give your sofa to a stranger with couchsurfing.
- Offer to babysit for a friend who is a single parent and rarely gets a break.
How to Be Kind to Yourself
Sometimes the most important person we need to be kind to is ourselves. Don’t forget to give yourself the self-care you really need with these kindness ideas:
- Plan a trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit.
- Visit a pet café and get your cuddles on.
- Tick off one item from your bucket list or create your list if you don’t have one.
- Buy a new board game to play with your friends.
- Start a gratitude journal.
- Create a vision board of your dreams, hopes, and desires.
- Get to know yourself with a personality quiz.
- Treat yourself to that chocolate brownie.
- Say no to fake friends and toxic relationships.
- Go for a walk or camp in nature.
- Treat yourself to a fancy haircut or spa day.
- Start a new meditation practice.
Big Kindness Challenge Ideas
Alright, so you know how to be nice but want to turn your kindness up a notch? Here are 4 kindness ideas that take time and are not for the faint of heart! Let’s dig in!
- Go on a travel journey
Sometimes, kindness is just around the corner—even from people you don’t even know. A really inspiring show I watched called The Kindness Diaries showcases a former stockbroker named Leon Logothetis, who quit his job to travel the world. Leon traveled by motorbike to Utah, Ecuador, and Peru, among other places
He relied completely on other people. From housing, to food, to help with his motorcycle when it broke down, Leon was able to travel thousands of miles from Alaska to Argentina… all by relying on the kindness of strangers.
Kindness is simply helping someone feel less alone. That’s it. It’s really all about making people feel that they matter.
Now you don’t have to be as extreme as Leon. But don’t be afraid to travel to a new culture and ask for help if you need it!
- Make a new best friend.
Do you have strong relationships? One of the longest, most comprehensive studies on emotional health is the Harvard Study of Adult Development. This study, which began in 1938, followed 268 Harvard students throughout their lifetime. Robert Waldinger, director of the study, says this about the findings:
“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
— Robert Waldinger
Relationships are the best predictor of happiness… and kindness, as well. The stronger, more powerful relationships you have, the kinder person you will become.
Psst… Need help making friends? We got you covered: How to Make Friends As An Adult In 5 Steps
- Adopt a pet.
There’s no doubt that one of the best investments to make—if you have the time to care for it—is a pet! Dogs, cats, birds, koalas… it doesn’t matter what pet you get. But the most important part of owning a pet is that it teaches you to care for another being. When you own a pet, they are truly reliant on you. And it’s up to you to develop your kindness to be a good pet owner.
Bonus: Ask for more favors.
Did you know that people who give you something, lend you an item, or otherwise perform a favor from you are more likely to actually like you? This is called the Franklin Effect.
“He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”
Try asking for different people for help whenever you need it! The Franklin Effect is only one of several “social hacks” in my book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People.
Captivate is the first comprehensive, science backed, real life manual on human behavior and a completely new approach to building connections. In my book, you will learn how to:
- make a lasting first impression (Chapter 2)
- stop being boring (Chapter 8)
- be a great storyteller (Chapter 10)
- empower people (Chapter 11)
- be socially attractive (Chapter 12)
- … and other social hacks! Buy my book today, or get the first chapter free.
10 Kindness Quotes to Lift Your Spirits
If you want to know how to be nice, read these positive words of encouragement. Words are so powerful they can even change your brain.
In the book, Words Can Change Your Brain, research showed that positive words such as “peace” and “love” can help strengthen the brain and build resiliency!
These are the best quotes about kindness:
- #1: “Kindness is a language which the deaf and the blind can read.“ – Mark Twain
- #2: “A random act of kindness, no matter how small, can make a tremendous impact on someone else’s life.“ – Roy T. Bennet
- #3: “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.” – Albert Schweitzer
- #4: “Act with kindness but do not expect gratitude.“ – Confucius
- #5: “No one has ever become poor by giving.“ – Anne Frank
- #6: “There’s no such things as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.“ – Scott Adams
- #7: “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
- #8: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
- #9: “Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” – R.J. Palacio
- #10: “A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” -– William Arthur Ward
Own Your Kindness
I hope you learned a little about how to be nice!
I can’t wait to see how you take on your kindness challenge! What random acts of kindness are on your list? Leave a comment down below!
You can even @Vvanedwards and be sure to use the #kindnesschallenge!
Kindness is strength. Kindness is caring. And in life… Kindness is king.
To your kindness,