One of my favorite things to make myself feel good is to pay it forward. Giving is such a treat for me. For a long time, we were not able to give to our friends or communities because the struggle of everyday was just too much. I treasured those times when a girlfriend called to ask me out for a cup of coffee, or over to watch a movie, or sent a card in the mail. Now that things are looking up in my world, I want to spread the good feelings whenever I can.

1> Cover lunch for a friend.

2> Send a care package to someone. Pick someone, anyone and send a little pick me up. I’ve given tea bags, pouches of cocoa mix, small things of coffee, little trinkets, bath products, whatever I think will brighten someone’s day. It always gives me a smile to think about a friend opening their mailbox to a present instead of the usual bills.

3>Donate to a favorite charity or a local cause. This is a wonderful way to honor the philanthropists in your life. I know my friends support a wide variety of charitable causes. There’s something so gratifying about picking up a few extra school supplies, or a couple cans of food, or finding a great outfit on clearance to give away.

4>Volunteer. I know, I know, we’re all extremely busy. Between work, kids, school, and life there’s not a second to breathe let alone volunteer. Take a good look around your local community–is there a mentoring program you can hit up @ lunch once a week or so? What about your kids schools–do they need a little help? Maybe you have a great talent for something–look for a single project that showcases your talents. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time–most of my “planned” volunteering takes place the weekend before Christmas when my family treks en masse to the local community center to pack holiday boxes. It’s something we look forward to every year.

5>Duplicate dinners. Make a double batch of whatever you’re cooking and take some to a friend or family member who’s having a hard time, working late, or could just use a night off.

6> Sneak treats to friends. I will occasionally leave a favorite treat, usually chocolate, on my co-workers’ desks while there up and about the office. Once I snuck a sample sized bath product in a bag of books I was returning to my neighbor. Get your creative juices flowing and make sure someone special has a surprise waiting for them.

7>Clean out your closet. You know that you’re just dying to get yourself a new wardrobe (at least that’s what’s on my spring to-do list!). If you don’t wear it anymore, just don’t like it, or can’t remember the last time you used it, send it on to a new home. Someone will love that beautiful blouse that just isn’t your color, or those comfy jeans that now fall off your hips.

8> Pick up the tab….for a stranger. I will never forget the day this happened to me. It still makes me tear up with gratitude.

9> Go visiting. Every once in a while, I’ll drop in on my grandma just because. Or I’ll call an old friend an plan a trip to their area. Occasionally, I’ve dropped in on friends in the hospital–either while they were supporting a loved one, or there because they needed to be there. Sometimes bringing a cup of coffee, sometimes just a card and a prayer.

10> Be the clean-up crew. Have you ever thrown a party and done all the clean-up yourself? It’s no fun. Next time you’re invited to play, offer to help with the set-up or tear down. Even little things like rounding up the trash from the tables or carrying dishes to the sink can take some of the burden off the host. Being the clean-up crew doesn’t stop when the party’s over. Pick up the trash you find on the ground instead of leaving it for the next person.

Even little things make a huge difference. So go ahead, give yourself a smile and make someone’s day!

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