Take the 7-Day Kindness Challenge!

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Paying it forward actually pays you back in the form of major health perks. Join us this week for ideas to make your positive mark.

Senior woman hugging someone at the door with a bunch of flowers

We all know that being kind is important. On top of all our other day-to-day tasks, though, making a difference in another person’s life can seem like a huge undertaking. It can feel as if you need to become sunshine itself for the effort to be meaningful.

But even just a little ray of light can make a major difference when it comes to lifting others up. “Simple acts of kindness begin a ripple effect on someone’s feelings, thoughts, and subsequent actions that cascade into connection with ourselves and between others,” says counselor Javier Barranco, L.A.P.C. He’s the lead clinician at The Berman Center, a mental health program in Atlanta, Georgia.

These simple acts don’t just feel good — for both involved — they’re good for your health, too. Exercising your kind heart through modest gestures has been shown to help lower blood pressure and symptoms of depression. It also helps relieve aches and pains. Plus, generosity has been shown to give people more energy, a greater sense of happiness, and it may even help you age slower, note behavioral health experts from the Mayo Health Clinic.

That’s where the 7-Day Kindness Challenge comes in.

How the 7-Day Kindness Challenge Works

Just like other healthy habits such as eating more vegetables or being active every day, cultivating a generous spirit takes a bit of effort. To help jumpstart your kindness journey, we’ve put together a week’s worth of simple activities to inspire a lifetime of good-for-you deeds. After all, it’s never too late to pay it forward.

All week long here on the SilverSneakers.com blog, we’ll introduce a new activity for you to try. Then we’ll challenge you to commit to your favorites with a simple goal-setting activity. You can use this handy downloadable PDF activity guide to follow along and take notes.

Today: Start with One Small Act of Kindness

People who perform impromptu acts of kindness, like bringing a meal to a grieving friend, tend to be happier than those who do more formal volunteering efforts like working in a soup kitchen. That was the finding of a large analysis published in a 2020 issue of Psychological Bulletin. When a team of scientists looked at decades of research on kindness, involving almost 200,000 participants around the world, they found that people who prioritized acts of kindness tended to have a higher sense of well-being.

Keep in mind that these little acts should feel refreshing — not like they’re adding to your caregiving duties or making you feel obliged. They’re meant to be moments of uplift for you and the people who benefit.

Here are 25 ideas for small ways you can boost someone’s day with just a little kindness:

  1. Smile at a stranger when you’re shopping
  1. Hold open the door for someone behind you
  1. Give a sincere compliment
  1. Post a positive comment on a social media post of an acquaintance or friend
  1. Give a bigger tip to a server or barista
  1. Create a care package for a friend who’s struggling or sick
  1. Bring a grocery bag of items to a local food shelf
  1. Offer to babysit
  1. Send a text to a friend or family member saying why you appreciate them
  1. Smile and say “Hi” to people you encounter today
  1. Let someone behind you at the grocery store go ahead if they have fewer items
  1. Send flowers to a friend who wouldn’t expect it
  1. Leave a stack of quarters on a table at the laundromat with a note wishing the “finder” a good day
  1. Help a neighbor with a chore like clearing a sidewalk or walking a dog
  1. Start a Little Free Library in front of your house and fill it with books or food pantry items
  1. Leave a basket of tennis balls and small bags at the entrance to a dog park
  1. When you see clothes or a product out of place at a store, put it in its proper place
  1. Write a five-star review on Yelp for a restaurant, store, salon, or health professional
  1. Donate to a GoFundMe fundraiser for a cause you’re passionate about
  1. Read a book to a child through an effort like Goodnight Zoom
  1. Ask a friend to take a walk with you
  1. Bring some cookies or snacks to your local fire department
  1. Buy school supplies for a teacher
  1. Call a store you love and tell the manager about the great service you received from a specific cashier
  1. Take your shopping cart back into the store


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With many of these, the people who benefit won’t even realize an act of kindness has been done. But their lives will be just a little easier and brighter because of you.

“The gratitude and gratefulness that comes from our own acts of kindness foster our ability to have empathy, improve our emotional intelligence, and push us to try and solve problems,” says Barranco. “At the end of the day, kindness to ourselves, and especially to others, leads to connection.”

Keep up with the 7-Day Kindness Challenge:
Day 2: Use Your Words to Make a Big Impact
Day 3: Make Volunteering a Part of Your Wellness Routine
Day 4: Turn Your Workout Into an Act of Kindness
Day 5: Make Self-Care Part of Your Daily Routine
Day 6: Make Generosity a Habit
Day 7: Connect With Other Generous Spirits

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