When it comes to being a better person, sometimes it's our weird, little habits that can make the biggest difference. Think about your friend who hides dollar bills in people's pockets, or your mom, who always lets other cars into traffic, even when she's running late. Little gestures like these seem insignificant, and even a little strange. And yet they definitely can make you a better person, while making everyone around you better, too.
Again, these are small things we're talking about. "I know some people like to buy a stranger's coffee. Others simply like to smile at others as they pass by. These tiny interactions are causing a ripple effect and ideally shifting somebody else's mindset," author Kali Rogers, of Blush Online Life Coaching, tells Bustle. "We don't all have time to travel the world for charitable causes, but that doesn't mean we can't spread positivity through small interactions."
The good news is there are plenty of small, yet totally kind things you can do throughout the day to better yourself, and make a better day for others. If you need a few examples, read on for ways to improve someone's day, with the added benefit of improving your own.
1. Let Someone Else Into Traffic
When you're stuck in the traffic, the last thing you want to do is wait those few extra moments while someone nudges their way into line. But why not let them in quickly, and with a friendly wave? "I like to make room for them," says Rogers. "It's definitely testing my patience as I value efficiency more than anything — but it causes me to slow down and think about what someone else might be going through. Perhaps someone letting them into a busy lane allowed them to make an appointment they needed to get to on time. You never know!"
2. Hold That Door Open
This one is such a tiny good deed, and yet it really can make someone's day. "I like wait those extra 10 seconds to leave the door open for someone else. I don't live in a particularly friendly city, so this gesture could be a sweet moment in somebody else's chaotic day," Rogers says. "It also makes me feel like I'm being more considerate of my environment." Which is always a good thing.
3. Be More Personable In Your Work Emails
Your inbox might feel like the coldest place on earth, with its quick replies and stony signatures. But doesn't that actually make it the perfect place to try your hand at being a better person? "I've found that people can be quite curt in emails due to time constraints and other plausible reasons, but I like to be more personable," Rogers says. "I think people focus on connecting less and sharing information more, so I like to at least try to brighten someone's day by making an email more personable or simply praising their work/situation."
4. Be Extra Kind On Social Media
While your at it, go ahead and take this same care with the comments you leave on social media, too. "Through both my personal and business social media accounts, I have this habit of writing very uplifting and heartwarming comments on people’s pictures," author and life coach Zakiyya Rosebelle tells Bustle. "They can be complete strangers, but I pour my heart out to them and try to make them feel like the most beautiful, smart, amazing, and wonderful person."
5. Actually Make Your Bed
This one sounds so simple, but making your bed really can start off a chain reaction for a better day. "If everything else goes to hell in a handbag, you can always say, 'At least I made my bed!,'" says professional speaker and certified laughter leader Bobbe White. "I feel so much better when I make the bed, because when I come home in the evening, it reminds me that I got off to a great start."
6. Leave Coins Lying Around
If you're like me, you'll scramble after a dropped quarter (because hey, money). But if you're trying to make someone's day, why not shrug and leaveit on the ground? "If I drop change while feeding my meter, I leave the coins on the ground," says KJ Landis, author and creator of the Superior Self series. "I know how lucky I feel when I find a penny on the ground, so I know I’m bringing someone else good luck."
7. "Drop" A Dollar
In the same vein, if you have a spare dollar on hand, business coach Tina Lensing suggests leaving it somewhere for another person to find, like on the sink in a public bathroom. It's like finding a penny, only a little bit better.
8. Pay It Forward
Whenever someone's nice to you (and sometimes even when they're not) make a point of paying it forward. "Treat a complete stranger behind you in line to coffee, hold the doors for others, or help someone in need such as donating clothing to charity," says therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW. Again, it doesn't have to be something huge to make a big difference.
9. Call Your Mom
Again, this one seems simple. But we all know the day-changing benefits of calling our mom (or aunt, or friend). As Hershenson tells me, if you can call one of them just to say hi and ask about their day, without bringing up your own issues, it'll be all the more meaningful.
10. Recite A Few Daily Affirmations
If you have a negative track playing in your head, it can help to switch things up with a positive affirmation or two. "Many people like to do daily affirmations in order to feel better and bring about positive change in their lives," spiritual counselor and psychic Davida Rappaport tells Bustle. "This can be very beneficial as they can invest in their intent."
11. Remember To Say Thank You
We're all quick to say "thanks" to our friends and coworkers. But do you say it to the other people you interact with throughout the day? "Say thank you to the person who holds a door open for you and hold the door for someone else. Say thank you to the coffee server at your local coffee spot for taking your order and handing you your beverage," says Rappaport. The list goes on and on, and it all adds up.
12. Try Out A Little Magic
This might not be your thing, but some people swear by the power of crystals and essential oils. As Rappaport says, "They feel that wearing crystals and essential or ritual oils provides them a sense of contentment, protection, and can also be a source of drawing things they need closer." So why not give it a try? Research which crystals can help you with certain problems — they say quartz crystal, for example, can help clear your mind — and see how it feels.
13. Smile, Even If You Don't Want To
While you don't have to walk around grinning, there are proven benefits to cracking a smile every now and again. "Research shows that full mouth smiling, even when it is forced, releases chemicals to the brain that fight off stress, reduce pain, relax the central nervous system, and serve as a powerful mood lifter," says therapist Dusty Williams, LMHC. "Studies also show that smiling is contagious and makes other people find you more attractive, reliable, and sincere."
14. Go Stand In The Grass
One of the stranger tricks for feeling better? Standing in the grass. As spiritual psychologist Vivian Eisenstadt, MAPT, CPT, MASP, owner of Vivie Therapy says, "We have electrical 'static' charges throughout our bodies that may feel like anxiety and stress. Sometimes between patients I go out to my front yard and stand in the grass and ground myself. The concept is that the earth absorbs those static charges and I feel more grounded — literally. I try to do this a few times a day if I remember.
15. Run Down Your Gratitude List
Hey, we all know the benefits of creating (or even thinking about) a gratitude list. But do you ever actually do it? As Eisenstadt says, "I start my day thinking about all the things I'm in gratitude for — the roof over my head, my four dogs ... my job, my family, my health, the fact that I'm even alive. When you live in the vibration of gratitude, the universe will match that vibration and give you more to be in gratitude about."
It really can be that simple.
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