Guaranteed Ways to Make Someone Smile Today

How do you make someone smile? Leave a chalk message on a walkway that reads, "Have a great day!"

People often classify random acts of kindness as selfless ways to serve others, but it’s in giving that you receive. Radiating positivity provides you with an optimistic worldview and the ability to persist through adversity. Here are some simple ways you can brighten an unsuspecting person’s day.

1. Leave empowering notes in a public place.

Take a cue from students at Wake Forest University. Nineteen-year-old Natalie is a member of the Do Random Acts of Kindness club, which leaves chalk-scribed encouragements on campus sidewalks. This sentiment works just as well with sticky notes, so on your next trip to the mall or the grocery store, place a happy drawing or an inspirational quote expressing positivity and optimism on a wall or mirror.

2. Pay it forward.

Leave a gas gift card at the gas pump. Leave quarters at the laundromat. Pay for the person behind you in a drive-through line. This action often leads recipients to do the same for others.

3. Give your birthday to someone else!

This is what one Indiana teenager did. The week of Grace’s 18th birthday, she contacted a homeless shelter to see if a child there had an upcoming birthday, and she learned that a little girl was about to turn 3. She left a custom-stuffed teddy bear and other goodies at the front desk with a note to the girl’s mom: “This is for you to give to your daughter. Hope she has a great day!”

4. Smile at a stranger.

Smiling is a catchy expression of joy. Beyond exuding positivity, smiles remind others, who may be flustered, upset, or unhappy, that there is still goodness in the world. Emotional responses can impact internal feelings, even in you. You may find that smiling when you’re stressed can alter your own mood.

5. Bring a bag of bagels to the nurses at your physician’s office.

The nursing profession is based on love for others. Emulate nurses’ dedication to service with a breakfast treat.

6. Remember, and celebrate, important events in other people’s lives.

If a friend mentions he has an interview or an important exam, let him know you’re thinking about him on the big day. A simple text message wishing him good luck or asking how the event turned out can calm his nerves and remind him that you care.

7. Mail a letter to a loved one.

Let a friend or family member know the difference she makes in your life. She may not realize that her patience and listening skills in your time of need were a game-changer.

8. Make small sacrifices for others.

If a friend doesn’t have a car and always walks to work, volunteer to drive him one day or just offer companionship on his walk. If you notice that a pedestrian seems lost or confused, offer directional help — even if you’re running late to your destination.

9. Surprise a loved one with a special treat.

If you’re running out for coffee anyway, consider picking up a cup for a workmate. If your friend loves chips and guac from Chipotle, buy her some the next time you’re there. This allows you to translate intangible concepts — such as “you mean a lot to me” or “I’m thinking about you” — into a direct action.

10. Compliment people.

Instead of using the generic “you look nice today,” try exclaiming, “I love your hair that way!” or “You have nice arms.” Compliments can easily be integrated into everyday conversation, so don’t hesitate to express your appreciation for the beauty around you. When you laugh at a joke, say, “You’re really funny.” When someone goes out of his way to assist you, say, “You’re always so helpful.” Offering praise for someone’s attitude, style of dress, or sense of humor not only makes him or her feel valued but also encourages you to dwell on the positive components of life.

When you live with the intention of making other people’s lives more pleasant, you will grow in selflessness and happiness. Let us know what random acts you’ve undertaken using #GrottoActs — so we can spread the joy!

Grotto infographic titled "Guaranteed Ways to Make Someone Smile Today." The list includes the following: 1. leave empowering notes in a public place; 2. pay it forward; 3. give your birthday to someone else; 4. smile at a stranger; 5. appreciate those you see today; 6. remember events in people's lives; 7. mail a letter to a loved one; 8. make small sacrifices for others; 9. surprise a loved one with a treat; 10. compliment people.

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