Be kind. Pass it on.

The world can seem like a pretty scary place sometimes. It’s easy to get discouraged with constant scenes of violence, destruction, political disarray and poverty. Many of us are looking for any small way to make a difference. Turns out a small act of kindness can have ripple effects far greater than we imagined.

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have shown that generosity can be highly contagious.

In other words, when we act kindly toward one person, that person is much more likely to be kinder toward others in the future.

Kindness benefits the recipients as well as the givers. Practicing acts of kindness on a regular basis has shown to be linked to increased mental health and happiness. That’s just one more good reason to be a nicer person.

And include your children. Instilling kindness in the next generation can only help us grow. Many of these ideas below would work well as a family project.

So here’s some small and easy ways you can pass on the kindness:

-Smile and say hello to a stranger.

-Hold the door open for someone.

-Pay for the person’s coffee behind you.

-Leave a sweet note for someone you love.

-Walk dogs at the animal shelter.

-Pick up litter.

-Donate food to the food pantry.

-Compliment someone.

-Return someone’s cart at the store (and, of course, your own).

-Send a card to a service member, your local police department, rescue squad or volunteer fire department.

-Do a chore for someone without them knowing.

-Bring a meal to new parents.

-Check in on an elderly neighbor.

-Donate outgrown clothes.

-Let another driver merge into your lane — with a smile on your face.

-Write a thank you note for your mail carrier or anyone who you are thankful for.

-Give candy to your bank teller.

-Befriend or include someone who seems alone or out of place.

-Leave a letter in a library book.

-Feed the birds.

-Plant something. Especially bee-friendly flowers.

-Put change in a vending machine.

-Pass along a wonderful book you’ve finished reading.

-Leave a big tip or a nice note for a friendly server or bartender.

-Buy extra school supplies for a teacher.

-Make a homemade gift for someone.

-Call a friend you haven’t seen in a while to say hello.

-Set up a lemonade stand and donate the profits.

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