How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal and Inspire

How many acts of kindness do you carry out in a day? As you go about your busy life, you probably perform more random acts of kindness than you think. That’s what I realized when I read Linda Cohen’s 1,000 Mitzvahs: How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal, Inspire, and Change Your Life.

Pay it Forward: Change the Toilet Paper

In a chapter cleverly titled “Change the Toilet Paper,” Linda discusses how the little things you do can make a big difference is someone else’s day.

“Keep your eyes open and be aware of what your neighbors, friends, and strangers are going through. It’s an opportunity to pay it forward in your daily life.” Throughout the book, Linda shares examples of the simplest acts of kindness that we can all do with minimal effort.

  • Change a roll of toilet paper in the restroom. (Nobody likes to get stranded!)
  • Tell a manager about an employee’s exemplary customer service. (You complain when things go wrong, don’t you?)
  • Listen to people you meet with an open and giving heart. (Listening is a powerful gift.)
  • Try spontaneous giving. (It’s really quite addictive.)
  • The next time you’re at the gym, get someone a towel.
  • Assist someone by carrying their groceries or packages.
  • Let someone go ahead of you in the checkout line.
  • Scoop your poop! (No one wants to step in it!)
  • Call upon an elderly neighbor.
  • Thank someone who impacted your life.
  • Accommodate someone else’s schedule.
  • Befriend a parent on a plane. (It could make all the difference in the world.)

Simple, right? It’s even likely that you perform these or similar kindnesses every day without even giving it a thought. It’s even possible that by doing them, you inspire others to pay it forward.

The Story Behind 1,000 Mitzvahs

When her father died, Linda’s busy life came to a screeching halt. She took a spiritual sabbatical to work through her grief and came out of it ready to embark upon a project: perform one thousand acts of kindness — mitzvahs — to honor her father’s memory. The book follows her journey from sorrow to inspiration through simple daily acts of kindness.


During my two and a half years of performing mitzvahs, I discovered that, aside from the moral virtue of doing kind acts, being kind is good for your health and happiness. The giver of kindness receives as much benefit or more than the recipient. I learned firsthand that it truly is better to give than to receive. From the beginning, most of my mitzvahs were simple and duplicable. I didn’t set out to save the world. I don’t even profess that any of my 1,000 small actions stand out as particularly important or life-changing. But I will assert that each of them made a small impact, and that cumulatively they have changed my life. [...]

My hope is that others will copy my idea. Ideas are meant to be shared, and it would give me no greater pleasure than to know that someone else has benefited from my story. This mitzvah project taught me the key to living well: Be in service and give of yourself.

I think Linda is right. Small acts of kindness can change your life — and someone else’s life, too. The key word here is “small.” Ever notice how contagious a smile can be?

To learn more about 1,000 Mitzvahs: How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal, Inspire, and Change Your Life visit:

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Disclosure: At my request, a representative for the author provided me with a copy of the book for the purpose of writing this article. I made no agreement to write a positive piece nor do I have any financial connection to this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255.


Polly Churchman
Polly Churchman5 years ago

I don't get the befriend a parent on a plane one???

Val M.
Val M5 years ago


Kay M.
.5 years ago

I loved the article. I love the suggestions of ideas to do when you want to extend a kindness. When we were growing up about 40 - 50 years ago, We did not realize that what we were doing for the neighbors was a kindness, we were just raised to do what needed to be done and do it with a smile. ( Pick up the garbage cans and bring them in from the curb, Cut the grass of a lady, whose husband has died and she has no one to do it for her., sweep the side walk in front of her house and clean the catch basin. ( now a days, your gardener use a leave blower and all the trash goes into the catch basin and when it rains, the streets flood.) We would go to store every day because we had stores on every corner, and as we went on our way, we would ask the ladies on the porch if she needed anything from the store, we would pick it up for her. I could go on and on, but now a days everybody lives with blinders on., They feel ( I do for me, I do not see anyone else who might need my help, I do not get involved.) It is such a sad existance. I am so happy that Care 2 has brought the idea of Acts of Kindness back and that a new generationh will continue to give it and pay it forward. I love, love, love, to know that there is hope for this world again.....period.....

aj E.
aj E6 years ago

nice idea.

Lauren Weinstock
Lauren W6 years ago

I believe what we do speaks about who we are, what we believe and stand for in this lifetime. Being kind as author states feels good, does good and creates harmony. What's not to like?

Diane Piecara
Diane P7 years ago

Acts of kindness may not even be noticed by the one receiving the "gift." That is not the point. The point is that we are not alone, but are all connected. By performing acts of kindness we are affirming this truth for ourselves. By living in this truth we experience true happiness and well-beiing. Therefore, the giver receives the greatest gift.

A Marina Fournier

Great article! The only thing that I miss from Twitter was getting the daily note from the Dalai Lama.

Many of the folk for whom I do small kindnesses, and even true mitzvahs, can't value what I've done, but they know it was good.

You can do more than *befriend* a mom--you can unobtrusively distract the unhappy small one (or block the running one so that mom can catch up) so that the distracted caregiver can finish what needed doing in safety and peace. I've engaged more little kids since the woman who did it first, did it for me when *I* was the one near a meltdown. I wish I could give her a progress report, but she was last seen by me about 17 years ago.

You can also quietly say to a woman who's struggling with a small one that yours were like that too, and most parents understand what she's going through. It always seems to be solo women overwhelmed. I know I felt like dirt when my son made a fuss when he was little, or did something inappropriate--reassurance would have been welcome at the time!

It's easy to help someone at the drop of a hat when you notice they haven't enough arms--and it's such a relief for them. Sending a real smile to a passerby is easily done--and don't forget to do it for your loved ones, as well.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G7 years ago

Check, check, check and check etc.

George Marshall
George Marshall7 years ago

I am intrigued that most people need to make a goal or objective out of performing an act of kindness. Acts of kindness can be as simple as a smile. They do not have to involve 'giving' and they definitely do not have to involve 'money.' Acts of kindness should be like breathing. I have found that it is so integral a part of my being, that I do not distinguish between living and performing acts of kindness. Jesus was a natural and a great tacher. We can achieve his level of love and kindness. We just need to do it.

Lin Moy
Lin M7 years ago

To a person living alone and ill a nice thing to do is gt their mail for them. Send a card to cheer them. Take them lunch some times. Ask if they need a ride to Drs. or to pick up meds. See if they need anything when you go grocery shopping. Lend a movie. Just pop in or call, it makes them feel so much better to make human contact. If they're well enough take a small child, wonderfull thing to do.