Remember that movie Pay It Forward? OK it came out in 2000 so maybe not all of you remember it. It stars Haley Joel Osment (fresh off his Oscar‐nominated performance in The Sixth Sense) as a young boy who champions the idea of doing three favors for other people … and then the recipients of those favors keep the chain going by doing three nice things for three more people. While its manipulative ending made critics like me cringe a bit, I still loved the idea of paying it forward and try to put it into action to this day.
That’s why I’m a fan of “holidays” like today’s: National Do Something Nice Day. There’s no denying that most people would welcome something positive and unexpected happening to them, and there’s actual research which proves that doing something to help another person brings you more joy than anything material ever could (including money!).
So if you’re down for cheering someone up today — be it a stranger, family member, friend, person in your neighborhood, etc. — here are some ideas of what you could do to bring on that warm and fuzzy feeling.
- Observe and help. If you stand on any street, in any store, or pretty much in one spot long enough, you’re going to see someone who could use a little help. Be it a senior who can’t reach for something on a high shelf in the grocery store, someone having trouble at a crosswalk, a flustered parent of toddlers, a package‐delivery person struggling to find an address or open a sticky gate — there are always countless opportunities to stop, look around and assist someone.
- Reach out. Never have time to call that one friend from college, your cousin or your old friend from the neighborhood? You could change all that easily. Even if they aren’t able to answer, hearing your voice on a message will serve as a fantastic surprise. You could even go old‐school and mail off a handwritten card or letter to them.
- Pay it forward, literally. If you have extra money to put toward making someone’s day, consider (anonymously) paying for someone else’s lunch at a restaurant, leaving an over-sized tip for a waiter or waitress, contributing $10 toward the bill of the person behind you in a drive‐through line, or giving a checkout clerk money to apply to the next person’s total.
- Volunteer. Your community will always appreciate people who want to give back. (So will your state and country at large!) Find a cause that moves you and dedicate a few hours to making a difference. Or keep it local: be it cleaning up a neighborhood playground, volunteering at a shelter, visiting with residents of a senior center or donating items to charity, there’s no shortage of good work to be done.
- Surprise someone. This last one is inspired by our very own customers. We love, love, love hearing stories about acts of kindness at the Box. Like these two boys above, who taped notes and microwave popcorn bags to their local Box so that other families could enjoy a yummy movie‐night snack. If you’ve performed (or been on the receiving end of) a nice gesture like this, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Now go out there and (help someone else) have a nice day!