Browsing Tag

Service

Ten Thousand Days

Random Acts of Kindness

December 5, 2018

Photo: Sandrachile

Day 1560 – Day 1572

It seems that every year, as the winter holidays roll around, people start to think about random acts of kindness.  I notice that this coincides with a time of year when people are grumpy, drive aggressively, and are rude to sales clerks.  It is a time of year when people look forward to spending time with loved ones, but many must spend weeks recovering from the trauma of togetherness.

Random acts of kindness has become a holiday tradition in North America and rightly or wrongly, I have the impression that it was made popular by the same crowd that used to watch Oprah.  I have spent many years in Europe so I am always delightfully surprised when someone pays for my cup of coffee at Starbucks at this time of year, and it prompts me to pay that kindness forward.

Recently, I watched YouTube on auto-play and came upon a collaboration on the topic of random acts of kindness.  I enjoyed listening to each YouTuber’s ideas of how one can be kind and spread joy in thoughtful and often frugal ways.  I notice that a lot of the things I try to do as acts of kindness are things I do normally, as a part of my practice of daily service.  They are often part and parcel of one another.  Some people find it hard to get their head around the idea of service, but kindness is something we can all understand.

It got me thinking about the link between kindness and a practice of service, and so I challenged my own friends to engage in Random Acts of Kindness and asked for their suggestions.  For those who struggle with service (and I am right in there, sometimes struggling to think of ways to contribute, meaningfully, to the world), kindness is always a great place to start.

I’m so grateful for this chance to re-ignite my passion for service with a loving heart full of kindness.  I’m grateful for all the suggestions my friends have given me for ways to be frugally kind to others. And, I’m especially grateful that so many friends are participating in the challenge, and are sharing their experiences.  If you are inclined, I’d like to challenge you to participate in daily acts of kindness.  My hope is that anyone who has struggled with service will find the joy in the practice, by re-envisioning it as kindness.

I know that most of us face financial stresses over the holidays, but there is no price tag on kindness.  My friends shared so many ideas for frugal random acts of kindness.  I’m guessing that many of these are already a part of your daily toolkit, and even if they are, there is value in reminding oneself when one is aligned with living servicefully, purposefully and gratefully – with kindness.  For those who need a booster, here’s a starter list:

  • smile at a stranger
  • speak to someone who looks alone or stressed (single moms, elders, teenagers) and ask how they’re doing.  Listen with your full attention and show empathy.
  • offer to help someone
  • visit an elder home.  Bring some word puzzles or if you play an instrument, bring it and ask if you can play for the elders
  • share a bargain with other shoppers.  If you see an unadvertised bargain, tell others so they can enjoy the savings.
  • write someone a letter and express your gratitude to them for their place in your life
  • let someone in line ahead of you
  • give your gently used winter clothing to homeless charities.  If you can afford to top it off with new mittens, hats, coats, blankets, please do.
  • with their permission, mow a neighbour’s lawn or shovel the snow from their driveway or walkway
  • babysit for free for a couple of hours
  • do grocery shopping for someone who is pressed for time
  • tell a joke to make someone smile
  • hide a happy note on public transit or in a library book for someone to find
  • if you enjoy creating, make some art and leave it for someone to take home, or you can brighten up an elder’s room at a retirement centre with it
  • with their permission, hug someone
  • tape some money to a vending machine
  • bring in some treats to the office and write a note ‘help yourself’
  • hold the door for someone
  • tell someone who serves you what a great job they did today
  • pay someone a sincere compliment
  • donate unwanted books to the library or local charity shop
  • gather friends and arrange with a hospital, hospice or seniors home for a folk song/old timer singing (or carol singing) evening
  • clean up public/shared spaces
  • do something unexpected for someone
  • pay for a stranger’s coffee (if it is within your means)
  • do something kind for yourself
  • invite someone, especially someone who might be on their own, to celebrate the holidays with you
  • etc.

This is just a beginning of a list to get you started.  If you have other ideas, please leave them in the comments, so that it may inspire others.   At a time of year when people can feel lonely or lacking in purpose, it has been my experience that making a daily act of kind service a part of one’s life creates purpose to one’s day.  It doesn’t need to simply be for December, it can be a regular part of our lives, and is a natural extension of living gratefully.

Photo: Evan Kirby

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

Milestone

Into the 4th Year…

August 28, 2017

Photo: Melanie Magdalena

As we enter our 4th year of Gratitude Practice, a word of Thanks….

On the 17th of August, we marked the 3rd year of this gratitude practice.  We had a party to celebrate our first year on 20 August 2015, but I started this practice on Facebook on the 17 August, 2014.

In prior years, I’ve looked back at what we’ve achieved, but this has not been an easy year for me.  I have to admit that I’ve struggled to stay positive and to be grateful.  Depression, panic, and anger  have been my companions as much as gratitude, joy, and oneness.  I’ve been stuck in my own pain more than I have been able to serve, it seems.  And, because its been such a difficult year to keep that balance a positive one, our anniversary passed, without me noticing it.

But, as much as I – and maybe you – have struggled with a personal or professional life that have been painfully disappointing and faced, every day, the darkening of the world news, we have stayed the course and we deserve to celebrate that.

I have always said that I am personally most inspired by moments of gratitude found in the darkest hour.  And frankly life is always a dance with adversity as much as it is with ease and joy.  We started this journey of gratitude on Facebook when I was terribly ill.  Daily gratitude practice helped me to overcome that challenge and to inspire others.  Internal challenges are not as cut and dried and progress as easy to see as when it is when the issue is physical.  I understand that.  And yet, we are still here.

We are all still here!

I have learned that frequent practice is essential in difficult times.  During the year, I returned to a daily practice on Facebook, with friends, and I’m sorry that I was not in a place to be able to write publicly as much as I would have wished I could.  Most of us are not able to give our best when we are struggling and I urge you to go gently with yourselves in your own times of sorrow.

I have also learned that grief is a lonely place.

I have faced judgement for being depressed or angry or for experiencing anxiety this year.  Not for the experience itself, but because it stretched on too long for the patience of others.  When someone dies, people are, for example, sympathetic for the first week following the loss.  But compassion fades.  From experience, those who are in touch with their loss and their emotions surrounding loss do not generally get over it within a week, or even a year.  It is usually that second week, second month,  and second year that is the loneliest for those who are struggling to put their life together again after the shock of a loss.  When one has truly grieved a loss, life will never, ever be the same again.

I never aimed to create a saccharine site where all we did was write ‘It’s all good,’ and then stuffed our suffering down into the depths of our souls where it could ferment and cause illness.  To me, the most meaningful offering I can give to others is to say ‘My life is difficult and I’m feeling awful and I can’t seem to want to get out of bed.  But I’m working these tools of gratitude (and joy, oneness and service to find meaning and purpose) all with faith that this low moment will pass.’  I invite you to witness as much of my journey as I can bear to reveal and you can bear to witness, so that you will know that you are not the only one who sometimes struggles with loss and grief and anger and panic that seems will never end.  I applaud anyone – including myself – for trying each day to apply the tools, even when it feels impossible.

I will never judge you for your grief.  Instead, I hope that you will find a place of solace, here.

Let us never use our commitment to these practices to shame one another for not doing as well at our work as someone thinks we should be doing, or for having difficult and dark emotions or for cursing or otherwise behaving imperfectly in times of distress.  We know when we are not doing as much as we wish we could.  We are all doing the best that we can.  I will never judge you for trying and falling down on your gratitude practice.  I will, if only by example, try my very best to encourage you to keep getting back up again when life sucks so hard you don’t know where to turn.

Fall 9,999 times; Get  up 10,000 times.

Together, we WILL make Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude.

 

As I do each year, I re-affirm my commitment to living a grateful life through 10,000 days spent observing that for which I am grateful, and making my life one of service to life itself, living a life of joy, from a sense of purpose, and of Oneness experienced through the awe of nature, art and spirituality.

I will tell my story of this journey because I believe that storytelling is how life’s meaning is revealed.  And I invite you to share your stories, in the comments, in an interview or in some new – as yet unknown manner – because it is in mutual sharing that community is forged and a new culture of grateful living can spread.

I’m grateful to readers who have stayed the course with me, through the dark times of winter and the strange and curious death and rebirth that is currently in process.  And I’m grateful to all who have shared their stories with us over these past three years.

I acknowledge and remember the friends and loved ones we’ve lost this past year.

And, I am truly thankful for another trip around the sun, together.  I look forward to our 4th year…

 

Photo: Joshua Fuller

For what are you most grateful?