A Month of Karma: 30 Things to Do That Will Bring You (or Someone Else) Joy

Go beyond paying for the person behind you in line.

Mail a Messenger Pigeon

Nowadays, we all get excited about snail mail. Any envelope not including a bill or advertisement feels like a gift. So imagine how thrilling it would be to get a messenger pigeon. Yes, you can actually mail one! (No, it's not a live pigeon.)

Be a Witness

The 99-year-old WWII veteran Harold Jellicoe Percival made the news worldwide when his obituary ran in the paper, asking military personnel to attend the funeral of this solitary man, so that it would not be unattended. Hundreds of people came to mark his passing, leading one of the staff members at the nursing home where Percival lived to tell CBS News, "We have lots of veterans at the home and each and every one of them should be remembered like this." Get in touch with your local nursing home to see how you can reach out to lonely, elderly veterans, or visit to see how you can help veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Talk to Strangers

Once, I was saved from a poor-self-image-meltdown by a stranger. We were sharing the dressing-room mirror and this woman said, "All of these dresses are so pretty." I agreed, saying, "I know!" And then she finished her sentence "—on you!" I almost fainted. Since then, whenever I'm in a dressing room I try to tell someone—when they come out to the common area by the mirror, mind you!—how nice that sweater/skirt/blouse looks on her. Just to pass along the ridiculous, exhilarating, all-out-of-proportion lift that such an easy-to-repeat comment can inspire.

Make Toast

No one takes the time to make toast anymore—breakfasts happen on the go, in cereal or liquid form—but perhaps it's time to reconsider the humble toast. What smells better than a kitchen where bread is toasting? Food blogger Orangette rediscovered toast recently, writing, "And there it was, boom, as though I had never tasted it before: crisp at the edges, a faint chew at the middle, sweet in the way that browned things taste sweet, juicy with hot fat and cold fruit. I understood toast." Then there was the writer John Crossley, who once composed an entire ode to toast: "There's nothing much nicer for those who are ill,/Than plenty of tasty, well-Butter'd toast."

Share Tandsmør

And while we're on the subject of butter (and when aren't we, really?), next time a neighbor stops by on some mundane errand-type purpose—here's your letter that was stuck in our mail box accidentally—offer him or her the greatest snack an impromptu hostess can offer: Tandsmør. That would be the Danish word for "tooth butter," or putting so much butter on something that you can see your teeth marks in the butter when you bite into it.


It's a free gift that will keep on giving for possibly decades: Sign up for a grown-up, college-internship-appropriate email for your 9-year-old child, niece or nephew that is not BigGulp313 or iHeartCarly. Especially if their name is popular. They will thank you in 2019.

Silence Your Inner Goody-Two-Shoes

There are rules at the sledding hill. You walk up the side, not in the middle where everyone else is careening down. You go one to a sled so no one breaks a leg. Trash-can lids are not, in fact, sleds. The thing is, that giggling teenage couple knows all this. Are they your children? No? Then don't give them a speech about the rules. They know they are breaking the rules. That is part of their joy.