40 Ways to Give More Life


In every encounter we either give life or we drain it; there is no neutral exchange.” – Brennan Manning

Of all the gifts that we could ever give to another person, none holds more potential than giving life itself. And I love the idea that every interaction I have with another human being offers me that grand opportunity.

It doesn’t matter if my next encounter is a short conversation, an email, a meal, or a 4-hour business meeting, it always offers me the same opportunity… to brighten another’s existence by breathing life into theirs.

Once correctly understood and applied, this simple, profound thought calls us to be more intentional, more thoughtful, and more persistent. It calls us to…

  1. Smile more.
  2. Hug more.
  3. Give more compliments.
  4. Write more love notes.
  5. Offer more forgiveness.
  6. Ask more follow-up questions.
  7. Show more interest.
  8. Have more compassion.
  9. Talk to more children.
  10. Remember more names.
  11. Leave bigger tips.
  12. Use kinder words.
  13. Laugh at more jokes.
  14. Make more eye contact.
  15. Treat others to more coffee.
  16. Listen more intently.
  17. Give more time.
  18. Stop to catch-up longer.
  19. Promote others more often.
  20. Be more optimistic.
  21. Be more sympathetic.
  22. Be more patient.
  23. Celebrate more successes.
  24. Ask to pray more often.
  25. Dream bigger dreams for others.
  26. Cook more meals.
  27. Ask elders for more advice.
  28. Spend more time reminiscing with old friends.
  29. Donate more to charity.
  30. Remember more details.
  31. Sing more songs.
  32. Display more affection.
  33. Give more apologies.
  34. Focus less on differences.
  35. Invite more to come along.
  36. Read more books to your child.
  37. Offer to help more often.
  38. Trust more.
  39. Give more responsibility.
  40. Say more thank-you’s.

Give more life. Because there, you’ll find more for yourself as well.


I’ll start. A special thank-you to each of the readers of this website. Yesterday (Tuesday), Becoming Minimalist passed 8,000 subscribed readers! Thanks for being a part of it.

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Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    Ah, herein lies the key… “to be more intentional, more thoughtful, and more persistent”
    You have a great list of things to give more life to others and to ourselves, but most of these won’t happen accidentally. It has to be intentional or it probably won’t happen, if you are like 95% of humankind, selfish and self-serving.
    Thanks for putting this reminder out there for all of us to see! What a better world it would be it we each did one of these things once a day!
    Letting go of who I thought I was supposed to be

  2. says

    One has to be more mindful or present to use your suggestions. Sometimes I find myself on “auto-pilot” and suddenly time has passed and I couldn’t tell you what the grocery store clerk looked like or what I talked about with a co-worker. Great reminder to slow down and open up. 40 lovely ways to make someone’s day better.

  3. says

    I love “breathing life” into strangers through smiles, a kind word, a shared joke, a generous tip with a heartfelt thank you, etc,

    Unfortunately, I don’t think I do this nearly as much with the people who matter most — my husband and kids. I’d like to start looking at my interactions with them through this lens, though, and stop wasting opportunities!

  4. says

    In going through classes for a degree in counseling, we were consistently taught techniques and interventions. However, my professors were also quick to remind us that the greatest indicator of positive change in the counseling process is the strength of the relationship between client and counselor. The way we connect with others is so important! Our contact with others is life-giving or life-draining. Great list.

  5. says

    What a great list! This is one of those posts that should be printed out and stuck to our fridges ;)

    As for talking about giving life.. let’s not forget the actual giving of life.. birthing and taking care of our children! What could be greater than that?

    greetings from the Netherlands

  6. Zernike says

    Oh, perfect timing!! I am heading out to a meeting this morning with completely the wrong attitude, as in “I have to do this” and your message just now completely turned it around for me. Now, I am looking forward to it, as I have a LOT to give these people! Thanks so much. :)

  7. mary froncek says

    Life to me is about giving hope to all that cross my path, Even when it gets rough around the edges, enter it with a smile, you can come through anything with hope and a smile!!!

  8. Tiffany says

    Love this post. It came with great timing to my life! I have been very focused lately on what I am and am not getting from relationships. It has led me to be very negative and hopeless about certain things. I decided to instead focus on what I am giving and not worry about what I get, and a very funny thing happened. Almost instaneously I started getting back exactly what I was giving: love, kindness, affection, humor, intimacy. Turns out I needed to focus on giving more life to what I though was lacking.

    Funny how that works :)

  9. says

    Hey Joshua!

    What an inspiring post. I really do feel great after reading this. I’m off to play with my kids now and breathe a bit more life into them (and me).

    Thanks for this!
    Have a great rest of the week.

  10. says

    Great list – thank you! “Promote others” is one of my favorites on your list. This is a great reminder to stop thinking/talking so much about ourselves, and promote the great folks around us!

  11. says

    I LOVE Brennan Manning. He is an amazing writer, so I know that any post that comes after a quotation from Brennan Manning will be a good one. Thanks for reminding us of ways to focus on others and the feelings we give them when we’re with them.

  12. Rob C says

    “In every encounter we either give life or we drain it; there is no neutral exchange.“

    Nonsense. Every day we all have plenty of encounters that we’re indifferent about or that have hardly any impact on us. To categorise all encounters as either giving or draining is overly simplistic.

    This post started badly and got worse as it went on.

    “Talk to more children” – not unless you want an angry parent chasing you and some rather nasty accusations.

    Don’t get me wrong, the world would be a better place if we were all nicer to each other, but we don’t need poorly thought out tripe like this to remind us.

  13. says

    I love the duality of the quote at the top. It really challenges every interaction, conversation, breath. I think we think we can be neutral, but we can’t. And this consideration can be frightening on bad days and such a wonderful gift on good ones. Truly believing this can also be empowering, and that excites and motivates me!

  14. says

    Beautiful, actionable post. By being specific as you are, a person can reflect and improve. Small steps are often the best way to make progress, and in the case of creating a kinder, gentler world its a big project that will need many small steps.

  15. says

    what an inspiring list! give more compliments is one that i’m good at, and remember more names is one i need to work on. it’s nice to see this all in one place, and i’m definitely bookmarking it!

  16. Sue says

    Thank you for this inspiring and incredible list. I’m going to put this list of 40 things up next to my desk as a constant reminder to do all these things more often (and to challenge myself to try and do as many as possible every day!)

  17. Anne says

    I enjoy your writing but was a little bemused by the comment of the first person when she stated that 95% of the population was “selfish and self-serving”. Where exactly is this arbitrary figure from? Talk about making a generalisation. I was reminded of the writing of James Kerr and Matthew Johnstone when they spoke of negativity and how your outlook on life related to your outcome. They also note that the faults you are so quick to point out in others are often your own in disguise. True, selfish and self-serving behaviours exist but I imagine that all we humans fall prey to them on occasion.

  18. Chris says

    Beautiful ! Thanks for emphasizing on the positive and that which does not require money or working in the helping profession /volunteering or “standardized “ways of givig back. It is truly ALL Good!

  19. Melissa says

    Thank you!
    I think, while simple -some overly simple- these are great.
    It’s a great start to give to those around you who you love: a smile, a hug, a listening ear or two and time.

    I believe Rob is correct that a couple of these could lead to dangerous encounters – angry parents for example and trust me, not everyone will like nor understand why you’re being nice, smiling or even talking to them, wasting their time, “looking like a loser”, etc…but these starting points are indeed fantastic!
    The world needs more people to go a little slower, take more time to look, listen, learn and understand and take action/give. Most of these simple starting points will help or inspire others to take action, give or help. A smile can be contagious.
    Do look up “Bucket Fillers”!!!! And keep up the good work.

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