Have you ever had one of those moments where a total stranger sensed that you had a need and they reached out to help you, and it really made all the difference? I was just remembering exactly that sort of moment. It was last semester, it was a Friday night, and I was absolutely buried under an unbelievable load. I had tons of work to do for studio and my other classes, I had deadlines to meet for The Technician, I had obligations all weekend, and I had no idea how I would get through it all. I was on the phone with my boyfriend, venting my feelings and trying not to cry.
A girl I’d never seen before came up to me as I was talking past the student union and said, “Hey, do you need a hug?” Even at the moment I was a little taken aback, but I wasn’t turning down a hug in that emotional state, and as it turns out, a comforting hug and the fact that a sweet, spontaneous soul like that is roaming around campus brightening lives made me feel a lot better. Which got me thinking, where are the opportunities in my life to do the same thing for others? She was my good samaritan on a horrible day, and here are a few ideas for ways we could have the same loving, encouraging effect in another person’s life. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest hugging strangers, I probably wouldn’t want to do that particular thing myself.)
Sure-fire ways to brighten someone’s day
- Send an encouraging text message to someone who’s having a hard time.
- Write a note of appreciation to the staff who clean your dorm or a former teacher who did a great job.
- Leave an extra-good tip next time you eat out (servers get paid $2.13 an hour, at least where I’m from, if you didn’t know!)
- Make some healthy muffins for a shut-in at your church.
- Buy your roommates favorite snack or candy and leave it on their desk before you leave for class.
- Write a letter to your grandma or grandpa and tell them what you’re up to. Include some photos!
- Buy a granola bar or bag of pretzels out of a vending machine and leave them in the slot.
- If you live at home or are in town for the weekend, do a chore around the house your parents have been meaning to do but haven’t had time for.
- Befriend a kid at your church who looks lonely.
- Have a sick friend? Bring them chicken noodle soup (bonus if it’s homemade).
- Make a custom playlist for a relative you haven’t been able to see much of lately.
- Get some friends together and write encouraging messages around campus with sidewalk chalk (the third Tuesday in August is actually dedicated to this, through an event called Chalk the Walks!)
- Leave a note in your SO’s car letting them know you are thinking about them the day of a big test or job interview.
Now this is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully it gives you a few ideas! What are some things that people have done for you that really picked you up when you are feeling down, and what’s your favorite thing to do for friends and family when you see them having a bad day?