Commit random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.

That quote, and the overall idea of practicing “random acts of kindness,” is often attributed to the author Anne Herbert. It’s a lovely and powerful antidote to the regular darkness of the news cycle. And one week each year, it’s especially encouraged and celebrated. Random Acts of Kindness Week 2020 begins February 16.

Benefits of Altruism

If you’ve ever had someone else do something nice for you out of the blue, then you know what a perk it can add to your day. An expression of kindness can jumpstart you to pay it forward and do something for the next person. While in the express lane at the grocery store recently, the man ahead of me paid for my gallon of milk. Now, $3.00 is not a make-or-break amount, but such a small gesture made my day. It seemed to make his as well; he laughed and said, “I’ve always wanted to do that!” And with that momentum, I was able to help out someone later that same day who was short on cash.

The benefits of helping others aren’t limited to personal anecdotes. Research affirms positive outcomes. When researchers looked at several studies about the benefits of volunteering, the overall results suggest that it can help increase our own wellbeing.

Photo by Devonyu from Getty Images Pro

How to Participate in Random Acts of Kindness Week

Besides paying for your neighbor’s milk, how can you participate this week? Here are a few suggestions to get started.

  1. Volunteer at a food pantry or other charity.
  2. Let someone step ahead of you in line.
  3. Pick up litter on the side of the road.
  4. Put in a good word about your coworker to your boss.
  5. Donate household items to a domestic violence shelter.
  6. Slow down to let another driver change lanes.
  7. Post positive comments on social media.
  8. Send a note of appreciation to a teacher, or someone else important from your past.
  9. Put away your phone and really listen to someone.
  10. Run an errand for someone else.
  11. Walk your neighbor’s dog.
  12. Leave a sticky note with an inspirational message on the mirror of a public restroom.
  13. Give a stranger a compliment.
  14. Leave an extra tip for your restaurant server.
  15. Make a favorite dish for your family.
  16. Send a handwritten letter to a relative.
  17. Call a friend who is grieving, just to lend an ear.

Additionally, Center for Discovery is partnering with Rachele Brooke Smith throughout February on a #KindnessChallenge. It’s easy to participate! Just tag a friend with a message of kindness and invite them to pay it forward by tagging someone else with a message of love and kindness. 

About the Author

Barbara Spanjers, MS MFT is a therapist and wellness coach who helps people feel more attuned with food and their body. Learn more.


Jenkinson, C.E., Dickens, A.P., Jones, K. et al. (2013). Is volunteering a public health intervention? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of volunteers. BMC Public Health 13, 773. Retrieved February 12, 2020 from