How to Spread Joy, Whether it’s One Mile or One Room Away

This illustration shows a man ordering food (top left) to his friend’s home (bottom right). Surprising someone with food is a good way to display kindness.

Staying at home, isolation and online learning—we’ve been at this for a little over a year now, and it probably has not gotten easier for most people. Luckily, performing acts of kindness for the people in your life to warm their hearts and put smiles on their faces can help improve your mood.

For the People You Live With

Start with the people closest to you, since these are the people you see on a day-to-day basis. Regardless if it’s a roommate or sibling, these thoughtful ideas should work nicely to raise their spirits and yours. Who knows, maybe they will treat you to dinner this week.

Preparing a treat for someone you live with is a good way to brighten their day, and easy enough to do with all the free time there is. A simple beverage like a cup of tea or hot chocolate is quick and easy to make, ideal for sipping on while studying or watching a movie. You could also bake some brownies or cookies for the people you live with to nibble on. Whether you’re a skilled cook or not, you can’t go wrong with a yummy snack or drink.

Let’s say you notice the laundry basket is piling up, the living room is getting dusty or maybe the sink is getting stacked with dirty dishes. Your relative or roommate might be too busy for chores at the moment, so what can you do? Give them a helping hand! Supporting them by taking care of these household tasks is a good way to relieve their stress and bring them joy. Doing this small, good deed can benefit everyone, simultaneously putting this person in a better mood and making your home cleaner.

To uplift your living companions’ spirits, a new addition to your home can also do the trick. Pay a visit to your local home goods store and look for the perfect plant, painting or small piece of furniture that would look great in your dorm, house or apartment. This purchase will let them know that you’re thinking of them and hopefully make them happier.

For the People Not So Close to You

It’s probably been a while since you last saw some of your close friends or certain family members, and you all miss each other’s company. These are the people who might be the most important to reach out to right now. Offering them some kindness, even from afar, can be a good chance to reconnect and offer joy.

Amidst the pandemic, ordering a meal for someone you know can be a nice surprise that fills both their tummies and their hearts. You can browse different restaurants or fast food chains to order from, choose their favorite comfort food and save the person you’re doing this for lots of time, money and energy spent preparing a meal.

Although you might not be able to see some friends and family face to face, seeing them virtually is the next best thing. Arrange a phone or video call to watch a movie or just catch up. Hang out virtually with as many people you like. Playing online games or eating a meal together are also safe ways to spend quality time remotely.

If you’re looking to keep things traditional and thoughtful, sending a handwritten letter to people in your life is another route to go. The contents of this letter is all up to you: update them about your life or write a few jokes to make them laugh. You can send notes and letters for holidays and birthdays. They will be able to get your kindness and love in an envelope in just a few days.

For Other People in the World

While being kind to your family and friends is important, there are also many people outside of your circles who could use good wishes too. Try donating to a charity or offering a simple hello and smile to someone you see on the street. It’s always important to spread the joy, even to your neighbors or a stranger miles away.

Being out and about can also make for a good opportunity to act kindly. If you find yourself in line at the drive-thru for a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, tell the cashier that you can also pay for the car that’s right behind you in line. This can save the stranger a couple of extra dollars and is also a nice surprise.

If you live in a neighborhood with many elderly people or know of an elderly person nearby, offering them some help is another way of being kind, especially in a pandemic that renders them more vulnerable to the virus than younger people. Offering to buy and deliver some groceries, walking their pets or watering their plants are just a few small gestures to help make their lives easier. And since these folks are more susceptible to disease, wearing a mask and approaching them safely is necessary.

Maybe later you’re in your pantry and spot a lot of canned food items. Wondering what to do with them? Donating extra rations to a local food bank could help more people than you think. There are many people who struggle with food insecurity and financial troubles, so donating what you are able to would be a great help.

These are all noble actions that you can’t help but try during the pandemic, but it’s also important to be kind to yourself. Remembering to check in on yourself will help to maintain your mental health. Try taking a break from your work, going out for a walk and taking yourself somewhere on a self date. Ideas like this and more can ensure that you’re happy right now, just like the people around you. 

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