For her book One Good Deed (Abrams Image), Erin McHugh did one good thing every day for a year and found that those small generosities made her a happier person. "I used to get cranky, and then I'd get this 'not nice' hangover. Now, no hangover!" McHugh says. Try out these good deeds if you're stuck in a rut - happiness is contagious! By Ashley Niedringhaus, REDBOOK
Help someone stay in the game: somebody's got to win
"After combing through 53 pieces of paper included in a Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, I found the correct information to send in Aunt Tessie's sweepstakes form." - October 24th
Enter someone you care about into a contest but don't tell them you've submitted their information. If they win, they'll be so touched that you thought of them, and if they don't, they'll be none the wiser!
Related: Top 5 Worst Lunch Foods for Kids
Make a big deal out of something little
"Geez, remember how big a deal it was to get your Halloween costume when you were little? How many times you tried it on (store-bought or handmade) beforehand? And then, the biggest worry of all: Would your parents make you wear a sweater over it?
So last Halloween I made a promise to myself: comment on the costume of every kid I saw." - October 31st
This good deed doesn't only apply to kids' costumes. Celebrate when your hubby receives a compliment from his boss or when your girlfriend decides to go back to school. Everyone loves - and needs - to feel appreciated.
Join the crowd
"On a sunny Saturday in November, I joined 150 adults in New York City to help paint the auditorium in a local public school. I was about to enter a crowd alone. But this bunch of kids I was near - all in their twenties - were volunteer maniacs. They were talking about raising money, other volunteer gigs they had done, mentoring. And lucky, lucky me - they took me in for the day." - November 13th
You can meet amazing people by putting yourself out there, especially in new and unfamiliar situations. And, in turn, you can always invite lone rangers to join your party to pay it forward.
"Inspired by my friend Susan, I now keep a gratitude drawer - a space filled with memories of the nice things that have happened to you. Fill yours with party invites, birth announcements, tickets, report cards - anything that will remind you of the nice things that are happening to you." - January 23rd
Feeling thankful and content is contagious, and reflecting on all the nice things in your life will make you more likely to do nice things in return for those around you. Remember when your sister-in-law offered to watch your kids so you and your husband could get away for the night? Time to return the favor!
"When I bought Girl Scout cookies this year, the troop had also offered an option to donate a box or two to City Harvest, whose mission is help feed New York City's homeless. When the donated cookies arrived at a shelter, an old man stared at the box and told the driver that he was a veteran who had been homeless for a very long time. He told them how much they reminded him of being a kid. 'This is the first time in a long time,' his voice broke, 'that I feel like a person again.'" - March 18th
The easiest way to feel happy is to make someone else feel happy. If your daughter is getting a new coat for Christmas this year, donate her old one to the local homeless shelter. Still haven't used those two stubborn cans of kidney beans in your cabinet? Donate them to a soup kitchen. When you pick up a new bottle of rosé, grab one for your friend and leave it in her milk box just because.
"After overhearing a neighbor of mine arguing with his six-year-old son about reading versus playing video games, I interjected with my two cents on the virtues of reading. Next thing I knew, I went into a local bookstore and grabbed a copy of a kids' book of mine called 50 States. I said to the child, 'How about I sign this as a present from me to you, and your dad could read you this?' The book happens to have a states puzzle, a place for state quarters, and a billion illustrations. I'll do plenty to get people to buy my books. But to get a kid to read instead of play video games? Then I will do anything." - June 12th
A good place to start is by donating your family's old books to your local library or community center. But even getting just your own children interested in reading is a good deed. Need help getting started? Check out 10 Tips To Get Kids Reading.
More from REDBOOK:
- 25 Lazy Ways to Stay Skinny
- 50 Totally Shoppable Fall Finds
School Ideas: 10 Time-Saving Habits
- 9 Little Gestures He Wishes You'd Do
- Get A Great Workout in Less Time
Become of a fan of REDBOOK on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!