Being kind and doing nice things for other people feels good for a reason — it’s actually beneficial to your health, according to a study published in Clinical Psychological Science.
Researchers found that when study participants engaged in acts of kindness, they were less likely to report negative emotions in response to events that stressed them out. And when participants didn’t perform kind acts, they actually reported feeling fewer positive emotions.
Paired with the fact that it’s simply nice to be, well, nice, that’s a good enough reason to celebrate National Random Acts of Kindness Day today, February 17.
Whether you offer a friend a ride to work so they don’t have to take the bus or you pay for the person behind you in the drive-through, there are plenty of ways you and your car can pay it forward on National Random Acts of Kindness Day. Here are 7 more ideas to get you started.
1. Fill someone’s parking meter
Isn’t it the worst when you rush to refill your parking meter only to find you’re being ticketed or your car’s being towed (or both)? It doesn’t take much to help someone else avoid that very situation and commit an act of kindness in the process. If you notice someone’s meter is about to expire or already has, throw a quarter in there for them (as long as it’s not against the rules in your area). It’s only pocket change and could really help brighten that person’s day.
2. Pay for a stranger’s gas
We’re not saying you should walk up to someone standing at a pump and ask to swipe your debit card to pay for their gas … that could get pretty awkward. But what you can do is offer to pre-pay a particular pump (even just 5 bucks!) so that the next person who walks in asking to fill up their car can get some gas on your dime. It’s a guaranteed smile-inducer, no matter how much money you choose to offer up.
3. Help someone jump-start their car
You’ve likely been stranded in a parking lot with a dead car battery at some point, hoping a Good Samaritan would come along and help you jump-start your ride. Here’s your chance to be that Good Samaritan — by offering someone (who isn’t acting suspiciously) a quick jump to get their car running again. Besides, it’s always a good idea to keep jumper cables in your car for your own sake too.
4. Offer to carpool for your office’s lunch meeting
Not only does offering to carpool your coworkers to a work gathering relieve them of an extra commute that day, but it’s also kind to the environment. You were likely planning on driving to the function anyway, so why not invite your cubemates to join in? Added bonus: it’s a great opportunity to catch up on conversation or get to know someone better.
5. Volunteer to be the designated driver
If you and loved ones are really celebrating National Random Acts of Kindness Day (or any other occasion for that matter), offer up your sober driving services for the evening. It may mean you miss out on a couple of drinks, but the payoff is always worth it. Plus, kindness is contagious — and next time, another friend will likely offer to drive.
6. Wash someone’s car
Everyone loves the feeling of a freshly-washed ride, but not everyone loves the elbow grease it requires to make their car squeaky-clean. Want to put an instant smile on a friend or family member’s face? Offer to wash their car for them. Or better yet, surprise them with a newly shiny ride. It’ll likely leave you smiling too.
7. Shovel a neighbor’s snowy driveway
Plenty of places are still buried in snow and it can be a major hassle to clear your driveway every morning just to leave your house. But you can earn some major good-neighbor points by shoveling your neighbor’s driveway (or at least their walkway) for them.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day, remember you can practice being kind year-round too. It doesn’t take much effort on your part, but it can make a big difference. From Esurance’s Week of Service to our Recycled Rides program and beyond, you can see how we’re doing good in our ‘hood too.