When I got home the other day, I found an envelope waiting for me: It wasn’t a bill, it wasn’t a promo, and it wasn’t in handwriting I recognize (so not you, Mum). It gave me a little thrill of delight in the elevator, as I thought, Who’s sent me this lovely red envelope with gold stars on the back?
Someone must really dig me!
I opened it up, and it was a note from a friend of mine, Petra, congratulating me on the recent release of my book and wishing me success and sales. It was totally unexpected and completely delightful. I have a twinge of warmth when thinking of Petra, even writing about her now. And I know this thoughtful, small act of hers contributes to that.
In a busy world where everyone is too rushed for everything, here are some small ways that you can be a more awesome human:
1. Rediscover snail mail.
And not just for life’s big events. Like the unexpected congrats card I got in the mail, consider smaller occasions you can stick a stamp on and send love toward. Maybe someone lost their dog and you want to express your condolences. Perhaps a friend is going through a divorce and you want to tell her you have her back. Maybe a coworker did something brave and you want to show appreciation or thanks.
In 2018, a written word goes a looong way.
2. Smile and dial.
When was the last time you called someone to wish them a happy birthday, to get well, or to say thank you? Texts are great, yes—because all communication is meaningful. But when someone picks up the phone, you hear their voice and can share a laugh (or even a cry) together, and well… it beats a LOL and teary-face emoji any day of the week.
3. Ask someone their goals + give a little somethin’.
Asking someone about their goals for the year is a very generous act. This kind of question goes beyond surface conversation and leads you to really get to know a person. Ask without an agenda—out of curiosity. And to be a real superhuman, give them something that might them help: a book, a connection, even just a few words of encouragement. We all don’t do this enough.
If someone doesn’t know their goals, ask about their passion: The answer might surprise you. I mean, let me ask… what’s yours?
4. Share your blessings.
I’ve never liked the expression “give back.” What does that mean, exactly? Who should you be giving back to? What have you (or they) taken?
I prefer to just give. Or even better, share. I made a commitment earlier this year to give a little money every month to charity: water after learning that diseases from dirty water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. If you would like to share too, you can donate as much as you like or as little as $10/month here.
Plenty of other small acts of kindness go a long way too, like smiling at somebody in the hallway, offering a sincere compliment to your spouse, or praising someone publically (like in a meeting at the office or an open comment on Facebook).
I remind myself often of something that Anne Frank wrote: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” The power’s all ours. In the present.
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!