Helping others helps us on #RAKDay

But what’s also widely recognised is that looking out for others when we’re low helps both receiver and giver to feel a little better about the world.

It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re down. But make the effort – even the smallest token – and the results can be transformative. It can make you feel both appreciated and connected, something we all need.

Switching our focus away from our own day-to-day issues also helps us gain some perspective on our situation. It reinforces that others have similar problems to wrestle with.

It’s this attitude of helping others for no personal gain that has driven the incredible rise of Random Acts of Kindness Day, #RAKDay, which this year falls on Sunday February 17.

Since the early 2000s this celebration of people selflessly helping each other has spread throughout the world and spawned a number of ‘kindness’ based organisations.

Here at Merrick Life we appreciate the value of such acts and we’ve drawn up our own list that it’s worth giving a try on the 17th – or any other day you feel like it.

Let’s start with a big one.

Forgive someone and resolve never to bring the issue up again. Not easy, but being the ‘bigger’ person may clear a blockage that‘s stopping you both moving on with your lives.

If you’ve got a friend or relative going through a tough period – such as a break up – unleash the power of music to help them. The likes of Spotify make building a playlist easy-peasy. Choose that friend some uplifting, inspirational tunes. We’d recommend a bit of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive.

While we’re on the power of inspirational culture – can there be a better gift to anyone than passing on a book you think they’d like? Few things lift the spirits more than a good read and it’s the most personal and thoughtful of gifts.

This will be the hardest of all for some – put your phone away. That’s right, switch off the mobile and talk to someone – face-to-face. Who knows where that conversation may take you both.

If that one’s just a step too far, then how about ringing a friend instead of sending a text. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in our own world and those we care about can mask what’s really going on with them in a brief text reply. Let’s talk!

There are lots of things we can do for complete strangers that they will appreciate and should give us a little internal kick at the same time.

Let’s start this one with something really simple, but difficult for the roadhogs among us.

Let another vehicle in front of you. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll be 10 seconds later than you were already running? Ease up on that car trying to get into your lane, they’re probably in a rush just like you.

Returning to our theme of conversations, how about starting one with a person you’ve never spoken to before. Someone who looks a little shy at work or at your yoga class? Not everyone is confident in speaking to strangers, but it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t welcome you making the effort.

Do we fully appreciate all the efforts that people go to giving us great service throughout the year? Think back to the last time someone did that when you bought a coffee or did the shopping. Think how much it would mean to get a retrospective email or personal thank you for that service.

And if you’re not met by good service or people don’t respond or act as you hope they would. Remind yourself that everyone is fighting their own struggles. Maybe just pause and consider that before you decide how to react.

Our final suggestion is perhaps the simplest of all but can have the greatest results.

Smile at people, just because you can – and it’s so much more rewarding than scowling.

We’ve written previously about a city initiative where people are going out of their way to help each other.

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