It’s Thanksgiving time, and everyone is talking about gratitude. The thing that fills me with the most gratitude is giving back to others. You might think this can only be done with money, but that’s not true!
The smallest things we do can help people in a million ways that we will never know.
Smiling at someone and striking up a conversation with them may just help them feel less lonely and be the highlight of their day – you just never know.
I thought it would be fun to put together a list to get the juices flowing of ways that you can help other people – even if you can’t afford to give money to charity.
Always be thinking of ways you can help other people. Being nice, smiling, opening doors, having a chat are all free. It’s not hard, and after a little bit of practice it becomes second nature to spread the happy.
Always be kind. Always be helpful.
Pssst. and you know what? Smiling at others also makes YOU happy!
31 Ways You Can Help Others Without Spending Money
This is a great “bucket list”. See if you can tick off and do all of these in the next year.
1. Smile at everyone you see. Other people pick up your energy and it does make a difference to how they feel. Every morning when I go for my walk around my neighbourhood, I make a conscious effort to smile and say good morning to every person I pass. There’s a grumpy old guy I pass every day, and I am slowly waring him down with my positivity – he now says good morning back! Next I will crack a smile out of him.
2. Donate anything you no longer need like kitchen items, books, clothes, furniture to Goodwill or an op-shop, donate books to your local library or give away on Craigslist, Gumtree or Freecycle. You will feel lighter and have more mental and physical space, and you will feel going good doing a nice deed.
3. Shop at your local thrift store / op-shops. That money goes to a good cause.
4. Volunteer time at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, animal welfare groups, op shops, hospital, elderly home. Check out Volunteer Match for find something near you.
5. Make a delicious dish for someone going through a hard time or to welcome new neighbours.
6. Send a bunch of cheerful texts, voicemails, emails, messages or letters to friends and family telling people how awesome they are.
7. Drop a kind note in a strangers mailbox, in a library book or leave on a table in a cafe. It might be just what they need to hear at that time.
8. Let people go in front of you in line.
9. Strike up a conversation with a stranger.
10. Give blood. One unit of blood saves three lives.
11. Hold the door open for the person behind you.
12. Ask people to donate money for your birthday or Christmas gift. If you have a favourite charity you can suggest that one.
13. Give a compliment to a stranger.
14. Donate old coats and blankets to shelters.
15. Offer your seat to someone.
16. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Recycling makes you feel good – reducing and reusing is even better.
17. If you live in an area with homeless people, make them a meal (or make extra leftovers) and take it to them.
18. Make some cookies or baked goods and take them to work to give to colleagues, take to a place with volunteers and give them to the volunteers, or another community program.
19. Donate children’s toys, movies and games to the children’s ward.
20. Ask people about themselves. Make new people at work, in the neighbourhood, in your circle of friends feel comfortable and welcome.
21. Listen to people. Deeply listen. And don’t just think of what you’re going to say when they’ve finished. And don’t worry about fixing their problems.
22. Hold a free lecture at your local library and share your expertise and knowledge (eg. yoga, gardening)
23. Run a mini food drive with co-workers or in your street, then take the donations to a homeless shelter.
24. Visit a nursing home and spend time with people. Make them baked goods.
25. If you see someone with a flat tyre or battery, stop and see if you can help.
26. If you get great service from someone (eg. at a restaurant, in a store), remember the persons name and call the store to let them know.
27. Pick up litter.
28. Be a nice driver. Let people merge. Don’t yell and scream at cyclists. I always see perfectly nice people turn into crazy, swearing, yelling lunatics when they drive. Don’t be that guy.
29. Leave positive reviews for things you like, especially small businesses, on Facebook, Yelp, Amazon etc.
30. Help elderly neighbours, family or people you know whenever you can. Walk their dogs, bring them meals/baked goods, run errands, pick up extra groceries, take their trash cans/bins to the curb and back, check up on them, bring in their mail or paper.
31. Be nice to Mums struggling with their kids in public places. Say something nice to her. Offer to help her complete the task she’s trying to do.