Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Kindness Project - July

Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts. We post the second Wednesday of every month.

When I joined this project, I had all these grandiose dreams of how my life was going to drastically alter from making a concerted effort to be kind. But it hasn't been quite like that. Instead, it's been a bunch of small changes, an overall shift in my thinking.

Instead of pretending like I didn't see that one person who isn't nice to me, I make an effort to wave or say hi.

When I get the thought to call someone or write a letter/email that I think might brighten someone's day, but I'm exhausted/busy/my kids are hanging on me/all of the above, I remember this project and I try to actually do it.

When I'm feeling down about myself, or get bad news, I try to think of who else might not be feeling great and how I could do something or say something to brighten their day.

I know I could do more. I want to do more. I'm going to do more. But at least I'm doing something. I'm trying. Even if it's in small ways.

I'm pretty sure I haven't changed anyone's life--yet. And I haven't had a drastic change in my life--yet. But over time, this shift in thinking, this concerted effort to be kind might end up having far reaching effects. A small change can set things into motion that could lead to drastic differences in my life and those around me in the future. Or at least that's my hope.

You've all heard the quote: "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."

So here are my questions for you today: What is something seemingly small that you could do that might have a big impact on your life or those around you? And have you ever seen a small act of kindness or charity lead to a big change in someone's life? I'd love to find out your answers to this!

Check out what everyone is posting about today:


Anonymous said...

A change in mindset is the key to having lasting behaviors--it's what gets you bought in because you really believe it. For example, I needed a mindset shift to get me completely bought in to a fitness/healthy lifestyle...I also needed one to give me the kickstart I needed to tell myself that I CAN and WILL write a novel.

For me, my challenge is saying the right thing at the right moment, so I've been actively working on complimenting a gracious act when I see it, or even just making small personal connections with someone standing in line with me. It's fun to see people's faces light up and walk away smiling. I like to think that their outlook improved, and helped them make better decisions for that day. ^_^

Lola Sharp said...

Like the butterfly effect...little changes slowly build and become big shifts.


Barbara Watson said...

I just want to hug this post! I love your "yets," mostly because you realize and expect that things will change and shift--and they probably have more than you know already.

Michele Shaw said...

Anything worthwhile takes time and continued effort. Slow changes are good, and in fact better, in my opinion. They last. Just like losing weight slowly makes it easier to keep off, slowly changing our habits and intentions makes them easier to stick with.

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

I think you'll amaze yourself with what you're capable of. I can't be certain of it, but like you said, those little changes will start to compound--it seems inevitable that your world view will begin to shift. Because kindness, while it forces us to become in some ways more self-aware, it's mostly in the way our actions affect others, not in a self-absorbed way; in actuality it takes the focus off the self (in terms of "me, me, ME!", which means you'll also be less focused on all the things you wish were different in your life. Ultimately, what I think you'll find is that you're living a more meaningful, fulfilling life, regardless of the things that are right or wrong in it. All of us fail and fail again, but that's why I love this project; it's like a little monthly nudge "remember kindness", steering us back to the path we've set for ourselves.

Sarah said...

Small changes, a bit at a time, seems more sustainable to me than something huge and massively life-altering. And I know from my own daily experience that small acts of courtesy and thoughtfulness can change the direction of an entire day, make it more possible for someone to face a challenge, and ultimately reverberate through a string of events to create a much more positive outcome than could have occurred otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Don't think that you haven't changed lives yet. You have.

Sophia Chang said...

"When I'm feeling down about myself, or get bad news, I try to think of who else might not be feeling great and how I could do something or say something to brighten their day."

What a good idea Sara! This happens to be so often and I need something just like this to snap out of moping and get into the good place again.

And I just need to add, about your post below - you're a FREAKISHLY gorgeous mom.

Sara {Rhapsody and Chaos} said...

It's those small steps that lead toward something amazing, rather than one grand gesture that changes a moment in time, rather than you as a person.

As for something seemingly small that I could do to make a big impact... Honestly, I'm working on getting neater. I'm naturally a mess. Clutter, clutter, clutter everywhere and it really, really stresses me out. But I'm making an effort every day to straighten things up and clean. It really does make a difference in my mindset; I'm more at peace, so it's much easier to practice kindness to other people, yanno?

Claire Hennessy said...

I agree with you and everyone else. Small steps are actually huge. And the amazing thing about kindness is: what you give out, you get back. The kinder we are to others (with no thought of getting anything in return)the more kindness will come back to us. And who's to say what is a small step to us isn't really a huge step for someone else.

Jennie Bailey said...

You have done a lot for me! I think sometimes we don't realize how small actions (or things we think are small - like an email or a card) have big effects. We probably don't know how much we have done in other people's lives. I wrote a heartfelt note to someone that I had worked with once - and she called me crying. She'd been having a horrible month: the network had canned her (not graciously either), her daughter told her that she was 'selfish', things were just a mess. It was so bad that she was ready to pack her bags and her daughter and just go back to New York. She said that my note was the sign that she needed (had prayed for), that it had completely brightened her day and convinced her to stay. I hadn't meant for the note to mean as much as it did to her. I simply meant to let her know how much I valued her as a person, how much I admired her and her strength. Such a small thing that meant such a huge deal to her. Little things can be powerful. Your emails have been highlights of my days!

erica m. chapman said...

What a great honest post. I feel the same way, and I do try to think about the same thing. Hmm, a small change that affected someone?

This may not be a small thing, but I have a fellow heart survivor and buddy (he's twelve year's old) who had his fourth heart surgery a week ago, and I told him I'd go see him on a Friday, well I had to put my cat down on Thursday and it was one of the worst things I had to do (you know this cause you read the post) so I was debating on not going to see him. Ann Arbor is a two hour drive for me and after working all day, I didn't want make the drive. But I thought for a second, he was so excited about seeing me, and he looks up to me. I can't let him down, even though I was exhausted, crying every ten minutes and just in a bad mood. But I went, we had a great time, he's back home now and doing perfect. I know it meant something to him for me to go, and I'm so glad I didn't go with my safe route and feel bad for myself instead.

A bit long, but I think I made a difference to him that day ;o)

I love your posts, they are always so honest and I totally relate to them ;o) So glad we've gotten a chance to chat!

Alina Klein said...

I can relate so much to this post. The kids hanging on you, especially. :) I do think those little things can have more impact than you will ever know. Keep them up, you will change the world for many people.