As Valentine’s Day approaches, many of us start thinking of creative and thoughtful ways to express our love to significant others, family and friends. But the holiday also gives us the opportunity to pay it forward and show love to others we don’t know—people who may need a reminder that they are not alone, and that they are cared for and loved.
Here are seven ways to show love to strangers:
As humans, we tend to get caught up in our own lives, and forget about the feelings of others. Before reacting with anger in frustrating situations, practice compassion. The people counting out all their coins at the register to pay at the grocery store, may be using every last penny they have to feed their family.
In situations like these, put yourself in other people’s shoes, show love and be understanding. And maybe even offer to pay for groceries or help them put their groceries in the car. An ounce of compassion goes a long way to show others you care.
We all encounter people in public who may be down on their luck and could use some words of encouragement. Take the initiative and reach out to these people, talk to them and give them the motivation they need to keep moving forward with their lives.
Make it a point to be courteous to others as you go about your day. Hold the door for others, offer to help a neighbor lift a heavy load, pick up something someone has dropped and return it, say “Thank you,” offer to help someone stranded on the side of the highway with a flat tire or ask people you encounter how their day is going. Be polite, and love others through kindness.
Give what you can to bring happiness to others who need it the most—whether that be by committing your time to give back in your community or donating what you can to help individuals in need.
Volunteer at a local Salvation Army shelter or food bank, or donate items you don’t need anymore to a Family Store that will help people get back on their feet. This generosity is an expression of love that will show people that life is worth living, no matter how challenging it may get.
Make someone smile
Go out of your way to make someone smile daily. Give compliments to people you come across, pay for a stranger’s meal or even tell a silly joke to make them laugh. It may be just what they need to get through a difficult day.
Do something good for others
Set aside time to do something good for others. You can be make fun gift baskets to brighten up the day for kids with chronic illnesses at a Children’s Hospital or donate gift cards to overwhelmed parents of babies at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. Do something that will make life a little easier for others.
Pray for everyone
Extend your prayers to everyone in the world—not just those you know. Pray to God for healing for those who are hurting, for forgiveness for those who seek it and for strength for those who need to overcome obstacles in life. Prayer is one of the strongest demonstrations of love we can give.