Last December, I attended a large event here in Phoenix—a thousand people or so.
During one of the breaks, I happened upon the organizer of the event in a hallway. He didn’t know me, and we had never met—I only knew him from seeing him on the stage.
I shook his hand and thanked him for the lovely time I was having.
He looked me straight in the eyes and replied, “I am really glad you are here.” The sincerity in his voice and expression was obvious. It felt like love.
The conversation took less than 30 seconds and yet it changed my entire day and evening. I felt welcomed and appreciated. My life was brightened.
In fact, here I am, over six months later, still talking about the impact that short conversation had on me.
As Brennan Manning once said, “In every encounter, we either give life or we drain it.”
In a world so desperately in need of life and love, let’s be intentional in giving it.
And as proven to me yet again six months ago, these life-giving interactions don’t have to be long and time-consuming. Sometimes they can be incredibly simple. In fact, here are 15 you can probably complete by the end of the day:
15 Simple Ways to Brighten Someone’s Life Today
1. Offer a compliment.
Compliment someone on their work, their smile, or that enviable quality you’ve seen in them over the years.
2. Send a loving note, message, or text.
A kind word sent via private message takes less than 60 seconds but communicates significantly a powerful message that can last a lifetime.
3. Leave an extra $5 tip.
If you don’t typically leave a tip, brighten someone’s day be leaving one. If you usually do, randomly add to it for a job well done.
4. Say “I love you.”
The old adage about not saying “I love you” enough has remained relevant because it’s true (unfortunately). Your parents, your spouse, your kids… remind them again today.
5. Pay for a stranger’s coffee or meal.
When my wife and I were dating, an unknown couple in an Applebee’s restaurant randomly and anonymously paid for our bill. It was a simple gesture that we bring up almost every time we eat in an Applebee’s—literally 25 years later.
Want to brighten someone’s day and give them a story to tell everyone they meet for the rest of the day? Pay for the customer’s coffee behind you in line at the drive-thru.
6. Remember to ask your friend or co-worker about something important in their life.
The next time your friend or co-worker tells you about an upcoming appointment or event, make a mental note to ask them how it went the next time you see them.
7. Come home early from work.
If you have kids, they won’t live at home forever. And it’s always a fun surprise to have mom/dad come home early from work—especially during the summer.
8. Offer a meal to a family in need.
That family from your neighborhood fighting cancer, or with the newborn, or working hard as a single parent. Offer to bring them a home-cooked meal or a restaurant gift card. The gift provides both time and money. But even more, it reminds people they are not alone.
9. Bring a treat.
Doughnuts for the office or a favorite dessert for the family. Either one is sure to brighten a day.
10. Offer to take someone’s picture at a well-known attraction.
The next time you are at a well-known attraction or witnessing a couple or family trying to take a selfie of themselves, offer to hold the camera and take it for them. The simple gesture usually takes less than a few seconds but provides a lifetime of memories for the people in the photo—especially if they are trying to capture a moment in the background.
11. Hold the door open for someone.
For some reason, in our post-pandemic world, this simple gesture seems to carry even more significance. If you’ve already touched the handle, go the extra step, and hold it open for the next person so they don’t need to.
12. Tell a friend you were thinking about them.
If something in your day caused you to think of a friend, tell them. “I just watched _______ and it made me think of you because you were the first to tell me about it.” “I just ate at _____ and it made me think of you because I know you like that place.”
13. Laugh at your friend’s joke.
Go ahead—even if it’s not that funny. If someone took the time to try and make you laugh, the least you can do is reward them with it :)
14. Tell someone how they have changed your life.
If someone’s actions, words, or life has inspired you and changed you for the better in any way, take the time to let them know that.
15. Say “it’s really good to see you.”
With sincerity and honesty. You never know how much an impact that simple sentence can have. Who knows, it just might inspire a blog post, read by hundreds of thousands, months later…
A brighter, simpler world? Yes please.