post written by: Marc Chernoff

88 Ways To Make A Stranger Smile

Make a Stranger Smile Today

Don’t wait for people to smile.  Show them how.

Let your guard down.  Talk to someone you don’t know straight from your heart.  Compliment them.  Don’t anticipate awkwardness.  Just be you in that beautiful way only you know and give them the chance to smile and connect with you.

Remember, your best friend was once a stranger too.

Love whoever is around to be loved.
-Kurt Vonnegut

  1. Smile often.
  2. Hold a door open for someone.
  3. Pay for the person in line behind you.
  4. Send a hand-written thank you card to someone who assisted you with something.
  5. Clean out all your old clothes and donate them to someone in need.
  6. Give a compliment about a waiter, waitress, sales clerk, etc. to his or her manager.
  7. Compliment a stranger’s appearance.  Flatter them.
  8. Leave encouraging post-it notes in a library books and other random places.  (Read Operation Beautiful.)
  9. Help an elderly person carry something.
  10. Send flowers to someone anonymously.
  11. Be a courteous driver.  Let people merge in front of you.
  12. Volunteer at a children’s hospital or nursing home.
  13. Donate blood.
  14. Buy house warming gifts for new neighbors.
  15. Introduce yourself.  Make new colleagues, classmates, etc. feel welcome.
  16. Inspire others online.  (Check out Makes Me Think.)
  17. Send letters of appreciation to business owners/managers and other people who support you.
  18. Treat everyone with the same level of respect you’d give to your grandfather.
  19. Give everyone the same level of patience you’d have with your baby sister.
  20. Appreciate people the way they are.
  21. Share your lunch or a snack with someone who doesn’t have one.
  22. Put some change in an expired parking meter.
  23. Check up on someone who looks lonely.
  24. Tell your boss, teacher or professor that he or she is doing a great job and that you appreciate what they’ve taught you.
  25. Create places and things for others to enjoy.  Like decorating your house for the holidays or creating a piece of art.
  26. If you overhear that it’s someone’s birthday, go out of your way to wish them a happy one.
  27. Ask someone for their opinion or advice.
  28. Bring cookies or bagels to work for everyone.
  29. Tip waiters and waitresses well when they deserve it.
  30. Be a part of something you believe in.  Those around you will notice your enthusiasm.  (Read The Alchemist.)
  31. Leave a thank-you note for the office janitors.
  32. Help bag your own groceries at the checkout counter.
  33. Offer your seat to someone when there aren’t any left.
  34. Let someone with only a few items cut you in line at the grocery store.
  35. Wave to a kid in the car next to you.
  36. Spread good news.
  37. Repeat something nice you heard about someone else.
  38. Remember people’s names and address them accordingly.
  39. When you make eye contact with someone, smile.
  40. Replace what you’ve used.  For example, fill up the copier or printer with paper after you’re done using it.
  41. Share your umbrella on a rainy day.
  42. Listen intently to people’s stories without trying to fix everything.
  43. Dance with someone who hasn’t been asked.
  44. Call a stranger’s attention to a beautiful sunset or full moon.  (Check out What Money Cannot Buy.)
  45. Give words of encouragement toward someone’s dream, no matter how big or small it is.
  46. Ask someone who enjoys cooking for a recipe.
  47. Let someone else eat the last slice of pizza or cake.
  48. Stop and buy a drink from a kid’s lemonade stand.
  49. Help someone get your parking space in a crowded parking lot when you’re leaving.
  50. Ask someone you see every now and then if they’ve lost weight.
  51. Do a little something extra to make someone else’s life easier.
  52. Use all the manners you learned in Kindergarten.
  53. Listen to someone’s pain and help them find a path through it.
  54. Give without expecting to get back.
  55. Encourage others to do one unanticipated kind or helpful act at least once a week.
  56. Observe everyone without judging.
  57. Say “Please” and “Thank you.”
  58. Forgive and let go of anger.  For instance, if somebody accidentally cuts you off in traffic, just let it go.
  59. Believe in yourself with all of your heart.  People will notice.
  60. Don’t be so serious all the time.  (Read The Happiness Project.)
  61. Treat every small interaction with another person as an opportunity to make a positive impact in both your lives.
  62. Greed, anger and ignorance.  Avoid all three.
  63. Speak the truth.
  64. Teach others how to make a difference by setting an example.
  65. Help others be independent.
  66. Give people the space they need.
  67. Lend your shoulder to cry on.
  68. Offer encouragement after a failure.
  69. Acknowledge people for a job well done.
  70. Tell a good joke.
  71. Clean up after yourself.
  72. Excel at what you do.  People appreciate professionals.
  73. Create a care package and send it to an active duty military unit.
  74. Redirect gifts.  Instead of having people give you birthday and holiday gifts, ask them to donate gifts or money to a good cause.
  75. Stop to help.  The next time you see someone pulled over with a flat tire, or in need of assistance, stop and ask how you can help.
  76. Put a small personal touch on everything you do.  People notice and appreciate individuality.
  77. Take the time to teach someone a skill you know.
  78. Help someone get active.  There’s a coworker or acquaintance in your life who wants to get healthy, but needs a helping hand.  Offer to go walking or running together, to join a gym together.
  79. Send a nice email to a tech support representative who has assisted you.
  80. Donate food to a charity.
  81. Stand up for someone.  Lend your voice. Often the powerless, the homeless, the neglected in our world need someone to speak up for them.
  82. If you see a couple taking a self-pic, offer to take the picture for them.
  83. Help the weary shopper in front of you who needs that extra two or three cents to avoid breaking a 20-dollar bill.
  84. Come to the rescue.  If you realize someone is sick, bring them some hot tea, etc.
  85. Stand up for your beliefs without flaunting them.
  86. Make yourself available and approachable.
  87. Over-deliver on all of your promises and obligations.
  88. Be positive and focus on what’s right.

And above all, live proudly.  Inspire people with who you are and how you live your life.

Photo by: Thomas Hawk

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  • I love the idea of leaving an inspirational note in a library book. An anonymous and completely unexpected bit of encouragement- who wouldn’t appreciate that?

  • Thanks for putting this amazing list, another great article to learn plenty from. Your posts are truly Inspirational. Thanks

  • I love your blog so much. It really keeps me going. Thank you!

  • These are all really great and a great way to make the world a better place. With regard to number 11… Be a courteous driver, let people merge in front of you - let us not forget the people that may be behind you and how rude it is to hold those people up by letting others go in front of you. Remember the people behind you as well. So, perhaps let others merge so long as you are not being discourteous to the people or person behind you.

  • Every week you write an article, and every week I post it on my facebook page for my friends to see it. Thank you for doing such an extraordinary job. Hope someday everybody will act as you write. Keep it up.

  • This is so wonderful. There are so many new ideas inside of this article that I haven’t done for others. It is my primary purpose to be of service to others and this is a wonderful way to appreciate others.

  • Great Blog… very inspiring!

  • I started going through the list and by number 67 I realized I need to thank my parents for raising me well as they taught me to do most of these things.

  • I LOVE this blog!! You always inspire me.

    It’s a great feeling to make someone else smile. It comes right back around too.


  • Good ideas! I learned years ago while in the Army that a leader (either NCO or Officer) will often spend 80% of their time on less than 10% of their soldiers (or sailors, airmen, or marines, I suppose) and it becomes easy to ‘neglect’ the GOOD ones who DO THEIR JOB the Right Way, Every Day, Day In and Day Out. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves to tell that Good Soldier, “Ya Done Good!”

  • Love this site. Thanks for giving me even more wonderful ideas to share with others.

  • Your blog is awesome, I enjoy reading all of your great inspirational messages.

  • I linked this page on my most recent post. I thought it fit well with what I was trying to accomplish. I really love “Treat every small interaction with another person as an opportunity to make a positive impact in both your lives.” That’s heavy.

  • “These are all really great and a great way to make the world a better place. With regard to number 11… Be a courteous driver, let people merge in front of you - let us not forget the people that may be behind you and how rude it is to hold those people up by letting others go in front of you. Remember the people behind you as well. So, perhaps let others merge so long as you are not being discourteous to the people or person behind you.”

    Ah, but you can catch the eye of a driver as you walk towards your car and point where you’re parked. They can then follow you to your space.

    LOVE these ideas! I am humbly pleased to say that I already do some of them, having learned from some great people. But there are new ones here I can’t wait to try!

  • What a wonderful post! I think a lot of these come down to having the courage to stop caring what others think about us. Often, we don’t want to openly compliment a stranger, because it might look weird. We don’t help a stranger because he might be a serial killer (there’s actually very little chance of that). We judge others because we’re too afraid to step away from the crowd. If we have the courage to be who we really are, we’ll do all of these things naturally. Just because it feels good. 


  • A smile is contagious, one of the most beautiful ways we can express ourselves to others. I remember walking around at the mall a few years ago and just looking at the people during their daily life. It was sad to see how little people would smile.

    Since that day I made it part of me to always smile at others and try to brighten their day. Deep down I hope that encourages others to pass it along and keep the smiles going. These are some great ideas to do just that — thank you :)

  • LOVE that photo.

    And I love that this post reminds me of my best friend - who makes strangers smile everywhere we go.

  • I love finding something to compliment others about when they seem down or overworked. The smiles you get back when you show kindness are a true gift. My favorite is saying something nice to the grocery store cashier, especially when he or she is grumpy.

  • Gorgeousness. Thank you.

  • This is an inspiring blog. Those who read and practice these points will make a heavenly environment for others. We need to practice this on a daily basis.

  • Great list, Marc! Although, number 11 (be a courteous driver) only works in some parts of the US. Around Philadelphia, the saying goes, “Don’t use your turn signals, because then others might know what you’re doing!” :)

    Number 15 (Introduce yourself. Make new colleagues, classmates, etc. feel welcome.) is very timely for me, too. I have a new employee starting next week, and I am working hard to make sure she feels welcome right from the start. It’s inspired a great post that I will probably put up this Thursday (5/12/11). Thanks!

  • i think this post is an essential read to any one who wants to improve his communication skills
    thanks Marc:)

  • It’s amazing but just reading these made me smile. It’s a wonderful goal to have for the day, “Make someone smile”. It’s achieveable and simple and actually makes the world a better place.

  • I always like to comment on something about the cashiers I see. Their days are hard and having some cheer in their day makes it better.

  • I loved the 88 Ideas post. Could I get your permission (with appropriate credit given, of course), to give this away as a handout, repost, put on my blog, etc. and otherwise share?

  • I love this article very much… bookmarked ya! Made me smile. Thanks a lot.

  • Good list. I especially approve of No 70. ‘Tell a good joke’, because jokes are made to be shared.

  • Or simply you can ask the stranger to smile :)

  • I must confess, I haven’t come across a single blog which comes even close to this one in terms of inspirational content… not even the Robin Sharma blog.

  • 89. Tickle his/her feet! j/k Great post!

  • This blog is truly magnificent. I just stumbled across it and I am now a supporter 100 percent. It really moves me for so many reasons. I want to compliment you both and let you know that I am here for you in whatever way that you need. I would love to contribute to your success through my writing, photography or anything that you need…

  • This is a great list. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a bad mood only to get a positive E-mail or comment that completely makes my day. Whenever I get a chance to do the same for someone else, I need to take it.

  • Amazing! I was sent to your site by divine appointment. Blessings to you and Angel for the LIGHT that you are shining.

    Love & Light

  • This list was really great. I smiled as I read through each tip, visualizing the kind of person I have the potential to become. Thank you for this. What you do is really great!

  • This is perfect for my “Make Someone Smile Today” self-project. Haha great post! :)

  • I don’t know if the anonymous flowers thing is the best way to secure a smile - someone going through a recent breakup or receiving unwanted attention from someone might not appreciate the gesture. Recently I had some issues with a man who kept persisting on trying to establish a relationship with me, even though I clearly told him I was not interested. He sent me flowers a few times, which made me angry and miserable. Knowing I was having a stressful time, another friend sent me flowers, and when the delivery-man came I was filled with rage until I read the card and found out who they were from. The point of this long rant is that if you’re going to send flowers anonymously, make sure to include a note specifying that they’re not from an admirer (stalker)!

  • Dharamveer The Great
    July 18th, 2011 at 8:43 am

    These reminders/quotes are fabulous… and inspirational. I intend to refer back to this many times. I am sure it will keep me motivated through these tough times.

  • Awesome tips. Thank you. :)

  • OMG!!! Breath of fresh air! You are a blessing to humanity- Thank you for sharing who you are and these ideas that will surely carry myself and many others over to the other side- The Love Side!
    :) Have a beautiful week!

  • I Love this site :) I believe that we are all guided to people places and things that are meant to hep us in our journey of life. Although not all experiences will be pleasant ones…we do learn from each of them and grow in strength. But when we DO encounter beautiful moments in our lives we should know to embrace them fully.

  • Someone cut me off in traffic the other day and we ended up side by side at a stop light immediately after. I started to look over intending to flip the person the “bird” when I just decided to smile and change it to two fingers making the Peace sign. They smiled back and we both started to laugh. I’ve done it several times since. I don’t think it benefits anyone to get all mad about a mistake. We all make them.

  • It may be 9 or so months since this post was written, but it was meant for me to find it today by clicking around on FB. Each and every one these 88 ideas are soooo good. I smiled the entire time I was reading the list and was thinking, “Done it, done it, could do it, will do it, etc”. Thank you.

    I LOVE people who KNOW what real living is all about. Connecting, smiling, realizing that we really are all one and that the smallest act may just be the thing that actually is the seed to save another’s life.

  • A great compilation. They’re so simple yet will definitely make someone smile.

  • I could not have read this at a better time. We just moved to a new place where we know no one. These 2 young girls knocked on our door yesterday and invited us to their church this morning. We went, and it was such a wonderful experience that we are definitely going to return next Sunday! I left their this morning feeling great. I returned home, stumbled around a little while on the web, and here I am! This was such a wonderful post! Thank you.

  • Oh! What a blog! I have it bookmarked you guys already. Thank you so much for these positive, motivational articles.

  • Thanks for sharing your ideas. I really needed to read this positive post today.

  • I love this post, and I really like the photo you decided to use. Your blog inspires me.

  • I love it!!

    I’m on a mission with my website and concept.

    Except you’re like 88 times better than me!!

    Good job!!

  • I love it!!
    Thanks for sharing your ideas
    I very much enjoyed this list.

  • What a marvelous list-amazing to see all these ideas in one place!! If you enjoy practicing these, how I would LOVE to meet you, for such giving people are rare gems! Yours is a great page/blog to bookmark to return for positive and inspiring ideas. Thank you for sharing.

  • “When you make eye contact with someone, smile.”

    Haha that awkward eye contact always happened to me. I should get the urge to smile first next time! Thank you for inspiring! :)

  • The power of our smile is amazing. A few years ago I set myself a goal of bringing a smile to the face of 1000 strangers, and met my goal in a about two years. I don’t know how much it helped the strangers, but the project had a life changing impact on me.

    There are many great ideas on your list. I particularly like “Spread Good News”, and your many examples of simple actions such as “leave a thank you note for the office janitors.”

  • Just some things I’m thinking of doing-
    Making cupcakes/cookies and keeping them in a jar by the door, so when somebody knocks to deliver a parcel or something, you can offer them a treat :)
    When you have a little extra cash, getting a rucksack and putting a few essential items in it (soap, toothpaste, food, a blanket, maybe dog food, etc.) and then giving it to/leaving it by a homeless person, to show them someone cares :)

  • Love this list! I write about doing Random Acts of Joy for others like this and I love getting more suggestions. Wonderful.

  • This post makes me smile.

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