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hanging the world needn't be left to the rich, the powerful or the radical. Small acts of kindness have a tremendous ripple effect and can do more than you might imagine to spread love, counter fear and encourage those around you to do the same. Start today with these simple but significant services. Thank someone for a thankless job Many parts of our daily lives rely on the services of people usually overlooked. Buck the trend by stopping to let your cleaner at work know you appreciate them, writing a thank-you note to your child's teacher, or expressing your gratitude to a call center representative. A few words of grateful acknowledgment can change the course of someone's day. Give generously (and anonymously) Is there anything more delightful than reaching for your wallet to be told there's no need to pay? Take a stranger by surprise: Pay for the car behind you at the drive-thru, pick up a nearby table's tab, or buy an extra ticket for the next person in line at an event or attraction. Sometimes the best gifts are those that can't be reciprocated, only paid forward. Smile at a stranger A smile is the simplest tool humans have to show and share happiness. It costs nothing and can mean the world, so don't limit it to the people you know. Lift the spirits of a passerby with a friendly smile, or give an all-out grin to an unsuspecting stranger. It might be all they need to lift their spirits and remind them they matter. Lighten their load Sometimes life is overwhelming. Whether it's one bag of groceries too many or a to-do list that's longer than the day, everyone could do with a hand, literal or metaphorical, at some point. Look for the next person in need and step in. Scrape your neighbor's car, get the door for an overloaded shopper, or engage with the children of an exhausted mom. A few minutes of your time could turn someone's tribulation to triumph. Offer up an authentic compliment A simple but heartfelt compliment can go a long way to boosting the receiver's confidence. Admire a stranger's outfit, commend a co-worker's innovative idea, or congratulate a family member on their delicious cooking. Acknowledging others' successes and virtues is a powerful antidote to gossip and negativity. Take the time to listen How often have you suffered some affliction in silence when simply saying it aloud would have brought perspective and relief? Next time someone responds unconvincingly when you ask how they are, offer them the time and space to share their problem. A listening ear might be all they need to overcome their troubles. Unexpected kindnesses tend to create a chain reaction, so never underestimate the influence of selfless service to your fellow humans. Lead the way to a kinder, more compassionate world with tools you already have at hand.

~ Charlotte Victoria


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