Introduction: How to Spread Kindness

Picture of How to Spread Kindness

In an effort to spread a little more kindness, I created a public art project, called the compliment project, that anyone with access to a printer and tape can participate in. Within a week of starting the project it spread internationally and was featured in The New York Times, ABC News, and San Francisco Chronicle. People around the world have been sharing images of the posters via the hashtag #thecomplimentproject on Instagram and Twitter.

In this instructable, I will explain what the compliment project is, how to participate in it, and other ways to spread kindness in your community.

Because we can all use a few more hugs and smiles now (and always).

Step 1: What Is the Compliment Project?

Picture of What Is the Compliment Project?

Inspired by those posters that advertise baby sitters or piano lessons and are taped on street poles with paper slip phone numbers at the bottom that you can tear off and take with you, I created compliment posters with the same structure.

The compliments include:

Your smile is beautiful.

You are perfect as you are.

Our world is better because you are in it.

You light up the room.

The compliment is written in large text in the top 3/4 of the page and then repeated on the small paper slips below. Passerby are encourage to tear off the slips and share them with friends. The posters don't feature any emails, phone numbers or websites. The only thing they do have to identify them with the project is the hashtag #thecomplimentproject.

After designing the posters, I printed 1,000 at a local copy shop and invited my friends to join me over the course of the week posting the compliments around San Francisco.

Step 2: How to Participate and Spread Kindness in Your Own Community

Picture of How to Participate and Spread Kindness in Your Own Community

The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, so I created a website where anyone can download and print the posters for their own communities. In addition to being available in English, you can also download the posters in Spanish, French, Turkish, Portuguese and Italian. I also attached all of these posters to this instructable step!

If your language is not available, please reach out to me by commenting on this instructable or sending me a PM - if you can help translate, I can create the posters in your language!

Step 3: Other Ways to Spread Kindess

There are so many ways to spread kindness in your community!

One of my favorites is volunteering. The website can help connect you to volunteer opportunities in your area based on your specific interests. I'm also a big fan of libraries, which tend to have plenty of volunteer opportunities from teaching youth how to read and write to helping people prepare resumes and cover letters. Whatever you are passionate about there is likely to be a volunteer opportunity right up your alley!

The same goes for donating to local charities! The website is another great resource.

Getting involved in local government is also a great way to make an impact. Just by attending town halls, you can get a better sense of what programs and initiatives are happening in your area, and which ones you can get more involved in. If there is an issue you are passionate about, you can also contact your representative - to find your local representative, here is a handy website.

I'd love to hear more ideas of how to spread kindness in the comment section so I can add them to this step!

Above all, small things like smiling at a stranger, being there for your friends and family, or giving an extra big tip at your favorite restaurant or coffee shop can have a huge impact. Once a ripple of kindness starts, you never know where it will end. :)


ThomasK19 (author)2016-11-29

I wonder whether those Nazis (or whatever evil person) will be cured if they grab one of those (esp. "our world is better because you're in it"). Hmmmm

DavidV81 (author)ThomasK192016-11-29

Keep thinking about those Nazis. You're doing great on missing out all the other people who don't regards themselves as great or worthy. How many Nazis do you "actually" know, frankly speaking? (if you know a lot, get away from them and start surrounding yourself with positive people, buddy)

ThomasK19 (author)DavidV812016-11-30

Hehe. Good point. Actually I can't remember knowing anyone personally falling in that category. But they exist and they seem to get more and more (from what I perceive from various media). And definitely: our world is NOT better because they are in it.

Huakus (author)ThomasK192017-02-14

I tryed to not to reply on this... but...
I think you are missing the point: this is not about justice or even truth... this is just about kindness.

Alex Ribeiro (author)2016-12-15

Hey, I just loved it but [Brazilian] Portuguese version needs a little tweak, let me help:


Aceite um elogio! Você merece.
Espalhe a gentileza, leve para um amigo(a) também.

1) Você é um raio de luz num dia nublado.

2) Você traz alegria àqueles à sua volta.

3) O teu sorriso é lindo. (It's correct)

4) Nosso mundo é melhor porque você está nele.

5) Você leva alegria onde quer que vá.

Spread the love.

zposner (author)2016-12-10

it would be funny to make ones that were funny

21jthayne (author)2016-12-07

I know that i would sure like it if I was walking down the street and I saw a compliment that was just for me.

Anirudh Ralhan (author)2016-11-28

That is a really creative and amazing idea. I would love to help you with translations in hindi. Let me know of the text you want me to translate.

I also have another idea you could use, 'Why not use Google translate for translations??' It has many languages and would be really quick .... Won't it??

silkier (author)Anirudh Ralhan2016-11-29

My dear friend, Have you used Google Translate much?

If you have you would know that you may well end up saying "you switch on my lamp" in Swahili or "the world is good if go you in" in Azerbaijani.

Always check with a native speaker or you may find yourself in a sticky situation!

In all fairness if I saw a sign that said "You switch on my lamp" I would sure smile and have a better day :)

Ah, but do you speak Swahili?

***Hangs head in defeat*** No

MikB (author)Captain Tight-Pants2016-12-03

I have a Hungarian phrasebook -- would that help? It's not entirely accurate ... occasional problems with hovercraft and eels :)

silkier (author)MikB2016-12-03

In the same sentence?

The mind boggles.

MikB (author)silkier2016-12-03

Nem fogok vásárolni ezt a rekordot. Ez karcos

silkier (author)MikB2016-12-03

Was it a good record though?

ned103 (author)Anirudh Ralhan2016-11-29

Google Translate and other online translators only Transliterate. They don't actually translate.

If you're not sure what transliterate means, it means to convert from one language to another word for word or letter for letter. Like converting English words into French but in the same order as the English sentence. Doesn't always make sense in other languages.

If you forget your hat on a train and ask someone who is still on the train to throw your hat to you in French, it's transliterated into English as "Throw me off the train my hat."

super_me (author)ned1032016-12-03

"Throw me off the train..." not a good idea to say to someone...

ThomasK19 (author)ned1032016-11-30

I just verified with "The flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak" (a mix from a proverb). When typing it transliterates (as you can see). But when the sentence is finished, it finds the right translation (I got the above from the German proverb).

ThomasK19 (author)ned1032016-11-30

To be fair: it's a bit better than just transliteration in the meantime. But of course far from a human translation still. Though I wouldn't be surprised to see a better machine translation in the near future than what some humans work out (deep learning has enabled things we could not believe a few years ago).

bagshotrow (author)ned1032016-11-29

A lot of older translation utilities used to work this way, but Google Translate, at least, actually does translate. They use crowdsourcing to correct awkward phrasing, too

FrenchDavid50. (author)2016-11-30

This is amazing! This inspired me to go through with a plan I've had for a while now: Put post-it notes with inspirational messages on bathroom mirrors in my school.

blacknight2u (author)2016-11-30

Thanks For your effort to better your community.

IdoV (author)2016-11-30

Hey gals great idea, I can help translate to hebrew if you want.

digamma101 (author)2016-11-30

I don't care what others are saying, this is terrific. Keep it up. I feel uplifted just reading about your project.

reelmanmi (author)2016-11-29

At the risk of being labeled the buzz kill on this well meaning project, pleeeeease don't tape or staple anything to poles or posts in your town, city or burg. I administer the maintenance for a number of business districts and this is a huge problem for us.

I'm all for spreading the love, but let's do it where we're not creating a mess and a lot of work fork for someone else. To my point, notice in the leading pic the piece of the last notice on the black pole that was left behind, multiply this by a dozen/week. And on the green pole in the adjoining pic, when we have to come by and clean up the remnants (morning dew and rain will render these illegible in just a few days) removing the tape will take paint off the pole as well. Multiply this by all the lost pets, garage sales etc. and now we've added to the blight in our communities. In the 10 years I've been doing this I've never seen anyone come back and take their sign down.

How 'bout we take this warm wonderful idea and post the bills on the bulletin board at our favorite coffee or bagel shop, hardware or auto parts store ? Ask a shop keeper if we can tape one to the back of his register or inside her front door so you read it as your leaving?

We, as a species, are great at not thinking of the consequences of what we do. How about taking a Sat. morning and after a smoothie and tacking the a feelgood sheet on the board @ our favorite juicer, we spend a couple of hours cleaning the poles in our neighborhoods?

mrpesas (author)reelmanmi2016-11-29

Thank you for posting this. You are completely correct on the clutter and damage these signs do. I also greatly appreciate the alternatives you suggested.

aerospace4 (author)mrpesas2016-11-29

Honestly, I prefer these to any other signs seen on the street but agree that they could be placed better.

Ninzerbean (author)reelmanmi2016-11-29

Thank you risking nasty feedback to post. I always take down my garage sale signs but am so tempted to show up at people's homes who don't. We don't have to take garbage for granted as your photo shows - viva la difference.

reelmanmi (author)Ninzerbean2016-11-29

Thanks Ninzerbean. I have to keep reminding myself that just because I like the sound of my motorcycle, some folks may not. I don't happen to appreciate the BOOM BOOM THUMP from the car next to me at the light while I'm trying to listen to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me... Give some, get some.

In the summer time you can see MANY signs posted for garage sales and yard sales both that've gone well past 2+ weeks. you May be an exception to the 'norm' but it can't be said for the 80+% out there - viva la Realizames

your_dragon113 (author)reelmanmi2016-11-29

Understanding where you're coming from; would you rather be cleaning up posters like these....

...or posters spreading and promoting hate?

Who post things spreading or promoting hate? reelmanmi is right.

Yes, it's still posting, what might be considered unwanted, posters. There HAS been reports in my city over the last three weeks of someone posting 'White Supremacy' posters throughout the city, which has caused Quite the stir. Personally I would much rather see posters like this throughout my city rather than the others. How about the signs found at a lot of malls reading, "Sell your junker car now. Call (insert phone number here)" or "Snow Removal" ? Something that boasts a a Happy note is more welcome than any of those.

I approve of this Instructable; It's showing how we can turn things around with a few kind words! Well Done!

And, Yes, reelmanmi IS right...and I'm sure that he and his crews could stand to see some happieness out there as well.

reelmanmi (author)your_dragon1132016-11-29

Didn't think it had to be one or the other. My preference would that it be neither.

bagshotrow (author)reelmanmi2016-11-29

I'm not sure I like the version on the right better...

reelmanmi (author)bagshotrow2016-11-29

And you don't have to, bagshotrow. Isn't that great? Our non-monetary paychecks come from the thumbs up's we receive from the folks that appreciate our efforts to keep their neighborhoods clean.

Sean Cruse (author)reelmanmi2016-11-29

Job security

aerospace4 (author)2016-11-29

I love this instructable!!

rxima (author)2016-11-29

you guys are awesome!!!

Anirudh Ralhan (author)2016-11-29

I would still love to help you with translations in Hindi. Please send me the text you want me to translate in instructables private messaging :)

peppermintschnapps (author)2016-11-29

I LOVE this simple but effective 'ible. Easily my favourite EVER! I am going to print these up and place them around my campus in every language TODAY!!!

Steady Betty (author)2016-11-29

How about not posting anything,but actually smile and be kind to people in person.Maybe give a compliment or two,along your way at any given moment.It immediately makes makes both parties,feel acknowledged for a brief moment and,that we are not just a number among the many on the street,or just a part of a jumbled crowd,packed in the store.
Not long ago,I was in cashier's line and trying really hard not to get frustrated at the fact that it felt like there was about 100 shoppers trying to cash out and,the store deemed that only two cashier's were needed,to get the job done
So,I decided: A.) To be grateful that I,was not one of those two lonely,overworked cashier's in the midst of a sea of cranky humanity and
B.) To look around and find something nice to say to another human being near by.
I believe it was"That is a really pretty coat you are wearing,it matches your an older lady.
She smiled and responded kindly to me, as well.
Since that day,I try to say something nice at least twice a day during my regular errands ....if I am out and about.
It is like a fun game that keeps me from feeling sorry for myself or overwhelmed with my life,if it happens to be a rushed or not so great day.
There is always something
uplifting or kind that can be appropriate, and shared with just about anyone of any age.
I have found it is hard,to have negative or self defeating thoughts,when you are smiling or someone is smiling at you.
Because, it makes note that you hoth have a positive in this world and you are important at the moment to someone other than yourself,and you have helped create goodness.
And....if the person you reach out to replies in a negative or gruff manner or even gives you a dirty look just know that sometime later,if not thrn tbey will remember a bit of kindness was shown them.
That alone is worth it.

reelmanmi (author)Steady Betty2016-11-29

Steady Betty nails it! Try waving at someone in the car next to you at a light or flash 'em a smile. It may be the only act of kindness they get in their day/week ... And it costs nothing.

slackpat (author)2016-11-29

Have you tried being kind, face to face with people?

You will be able to judge the results of your effort.

reelmanmi (author)slackpat2016-11-29

I do this on a daily basis slackpat. I roll into an alley with a rotisserie chicken from Sams Club and a quilted shirt or two to hand out to transients while I try to explain to them why it's not cool to defecate on the business owners wall. The respect thing has to go both ways. If I had a dollar for every estate sale I went to to and was told by the operator that they would pull the signs down that evening and I end up taking them down Tues. or Wed. I'd be a wealthy man.

Cats Dragon (author)2016-11-29

Very nice idea. Thank you for posting this.

caitlinsdad (author)2016-11-27

What the NY Times failed to inform you is that posting bills is illegal in NYC.

No good deed goes unpunished.

It is not posting a bill, since it is not advertisement. Good deeds generally aren't punished.

Of course I don't live in one of those places, so for real doing that is illegal in NYC?

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