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  • Lauren Eaton

Spreading Joy in a World of Self-Isolation

I think we can all agree that 2020 didn’t go quite as expected. To be blunt, it sucked.

2020 brought sickness, devastation, loss, sorrow, economic struggles, and protests regarding human rights (or the lack thereof). But we learned how to be resilient. To educate ourselves and speak up for what matters, which is evident by the fact that Robin DiAngelo's "White Fragility" and Ibram X. Kendi's "How to Be an Antiracist" topped USA TODAY's best-selling books list for weeks. We learned to live in the moment and not to take the small joys we have in life for granted.

With the first month of 2021 nearly over, people around the world are cautiously hoping for a better year. A year with a vaccine and hopefully less or no COVID-19; a year, full of love and friends and celebration. We aren’t there yet, though. Although our problems aren’t solved, 2021 doesn’t have to be such a bad year, as long as you do your part. Staying home, staying distanced, wearing a mask and spreading joy.

It may sound hard to believe, but to help this year be a little brighter than last you can spread joy SAFELY during a pandemic. How? Let me show you some ways to do so, listed from least to most expensive!

1. Give a stranger a compliment. (Free!)

  • If you’re at the grocery store or even if a video pops up on your TikTok and you like something about the person you see, tell them!

2. Shovel a neighbour’s driveway when it snows. (Free!)

  • Maybe your neighbour is struggling, or they simply don’t have time. Either offer to shovel for them or do it as a surprise! Alternatively, if there’s no snow, you can wash their car or even rake up leaves!

3. Recommend someone your favourite book/movie. (Free!)

  • If it brings you joy, it might bring joy to someone else! They might share something too, so either way, it’s a win-win situation!

4. Make a playlist for someone. (Free!)

  • Make a playlist of songs you think they would like, songs you like, songs that make you think of them, or all the above! All it does is demonstrate that you were thinking of them and took time out of your day to do something for them!

5. Let someone cut in front of you in line. (Free!)

  • If you have nowhere else to be or see someone behind you in line has less stuff, let someone jump ahead!

6. Let someone into your lane when driving. (Free!)

  • If you see someone trying to merge or turn from a parking lot, it never hurts to let them in :)

7. Take 15 minutes to really listen to someone. (Free!)

  • Let a friend or family member vent it out. Don’t formulate a response, just listen to what they’re saying and support them if they need it! Sometimes we just need an ear to listen and we feel better immediately!

8. Call someone and see how they’re doing (not text). (Free!)

  • Calling someone and asking how they’re doing is much more meaningful than a quick text :)

9. Donate your old clothes. (Free!)

  • If it’s something you don’t want anymore that’s in good condition, donate it to a homeless shelter, women’s shelter or a food/supply bank instead of throwing it out!

10. Donate the $1 at the checkout stand. ($1)

  • If you have the money, donate the extra dollar to charity

11. Leave letters of encouragement on people’s cars. (Approx. 5-10 dollars for the supplies!)

  • Grab a sticky note or paper and a pen, write a positive message (you can find inspiration on Pinterest) and leave it on someone’s windshield! Not only will it make them smile, but it will also give you an adrenaline boost to make what you’re doing a little more exciting!

12. Leave your waiter/uber driver a generous tip. (Your $ choice!)

  • If you’re able to dine in or pick-up a meal, leave a tip for the people working hard to make your food. Likewise, if you order through Uber Eats, DoorDash or Skip the Dishes, leave a tip for the driver!

13. Send a virtual gift card to someone for no reason. (Your $ choice!)

  • No matter how much money or where the e-gift card is to, your loved one will enjoy the thought behind it!

14. Pay for someone’s meal or coffee. (Ask the person at the kiosk for the price!)

  • Whether you’re dining in or in a drive-through, if you have the money ask the person at the kiosk how much the order behind you costs and pay for it. It’s a nice little surprise and might encourage them to do the same!

In a world of self-isolation and cautious hope, by spreading joy through random acts of kindness, you can improve someone’s day, and maybe even their entire year. You can start now! Get started by sending a quick message to someone you love, and tell them you hope they have/had an amazing day.

Stay strong, stay safe, and stay happy!

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