7 Random Acts of Kindness to Offer Yourself and Others

In the words of Sharon Salzberg, “A commitment to kindness can be the thread that twines throughout our various successes, disappointments, delights, and traumas, making our lives seamless, giving us ballast in a world of change, a reservoir of heartfulness to infuse our choices, our relationships, and our reactions.” Here are seven ways to tap into that reservoir, today and every day.

Set yourself the goal of having a “micro-moment” of positive connection with everyone you interact with. “Love blossoms virtually any time two or more people—even strangers—connect over a shared positive emotion, be it mild or strong,” says positive psychologist Barbara Fredrickson. “Your micro-moments of love not only make you healthier, but being healthier also builds your capacity for love.”

Write someone a letter. “Dig out that stationary buried in a desk drawer, brew a cup of tea, find a cozy seat in a quiet location, and write a few letters,” suggests Kripalu School of Yoga teacher trainer Larissa Hall Carlson. “You can keep it short and sweet—the important thing is to write with well wishes in your heart." 

When you feel a difficult emotion rising within you, try this simple practice. “In a moment of judgment, or reeling with anger, heavy with disappointment, frozen in overanalyzing, deep in shame, imploding with total inadequacy—bless your own heart,” explains Ashleigh Sergeant, head of yoga content for Gaia.com and former global yoga trainer for Adidas. “Change that focus to one of gratitude and thank whatever part of yourself is doing its best to protect you in the only way it knows how.”

Listen more closely. “Often we have conversations where we are only partially paying attention,” says Sharon. “We’re thinking about the next email we need to send, or what we forgot to mention to the last person we spoke to. Or we decide we know what the other person is going to say, based on past encounters. Reopening that closed file by listening is a powerful gesture of kindness, one that allows fresh responses and transformed relationships.”

Do metta meditation for three minutes. “The Pali word metta is most often translated as ‘loving-kindness,’” says Kripalu Lead Faculty Janna Delgado, “and the practice of metta meditation helps open your heart to yourself and to others.” Here’s how to do it.

If someone gives you a compliment today, pay it forward. “Bring that appreciation into your heart, honor it, let it nourish you—and then serve that back up, like a ball of energy that you’re passing on to the next person,” says positive psychologist Maria Sirois, a longtime faculty member at Kripalu.

Ask yourself, What do I need? “When somebody asks us that question, it so touches our hearts, but we don’t usually ask ourselves that question—in a kind way rather than with an edge to it,” says self-compassion expert Christopher Germer. “Sometimes we need to comfort and soothe ourselves for how hard it is to be a human being.”