The holidays have come and gone. Chances are, your decorations have been put away until next year. I was extra slow to take my tree down this time. I kept thinking I wanted to keep a happy vibe in the house, but it finally came time to pack it up. While taping up the decorations box, I couldn’t help but think of how many of us also begin to put away our cheerful attitude towards helping others. Have you noticed how easy it is to volunteer, donate money, and pay more attention to our behavior around the holidays?
As the new year begins, that charitable attitude also seems to come and go as well. Why is that? My question for you: What stops us from being kind throughout the entire year? Is it possible? Now that we are making our way into 2021, we are faced not only with a pandemic but also civil unrest that has many of us on edge and fearful. I personally find myself lately disappointed in humanity, and while my nature is to love and help, I often want to isolate and not reach out.
I’m not sure what I’m afraid of. It’s sort of like I want to give up on giving back. But at the end of the day, I know we are all better than that. We are born loving, kind beings. Kindness makes us beautiful. It helps to heal our wounds. Kindness is cathartic. In her book, The Negativity Remedy, author Nicole Phillips asked some of her social media friends what stops them from being kind. The answers ranged from things like fear of rejection, fear of being misunderstood, or the feelings of not being able to fix the entire problem, so why try in the first place? Some even said they felt they were worried the kind gesture would not be good enough or not “just right.”
Those responses are stunning to me and at the same time, I totally get it. I have felt them too! Have you? What has kept you from being kind in the past? What’s keeping you from being kind right now? Why do we so often and easily choose agitation, worry, and anger? Why would we ever choose anything other than kindness, and keep it going year-round? This month, we celebrate and honor a man who spent his life promoting kindness through peace and nonviolence.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought injustice and stood up for the things he believed in. Through it all, the civil rights leader never gave up. He worked year-round. His words have inspired millions to make a change. These are three of my favorite quotes by MLK:
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
In that light, I am encouraging us all to stop for a moment and think of how we can not only help others, but also be more kind to ourselves. With so much noise going on in the world, it is time to get quiet for a moment and realize what is really important. Do we continue to struggle and fight, or do we reflect on what our purpose is here on earth? I believe we are all here to help each other along the way and that begins with empathy, kindness, and a willingness to listen.
Helping Others and Ourselves
- Say “thank you” to your mail carrier.
- Give a compliment to a stranger.
- Look a homeless person in the eyes, and acknowledging her or his presence, even if you don’t intend to hand them money.
- Check-in with a friend, classmate, family member, or coworker whom you know has been through a difficult stretch of life, to let them know they matter.
- Shop at a small independently owned business.
- Forgive yourself for not getting it right all the time. Listen to positive self-affirmations. (I do this several times a week while I put my make-up on. Simply google “youtube positive self-affirmations,” Then pick a video that works for you. ) Even if you can’t listen intently, your subconscious hears the positive vibes.
- Utilize a simple gratitude list before you go to sleep.
- Write down 5 things that you have been grateful for during the day.
- Take the time to listen to the voices of those who might be different from you.
- Clean out a closet and donate what you don’t need or want anymore.
- Try a new recipe.
- Call an old friend who you haven’t connected with in years.
- Bake cookies for a neighbor.
- Don’t honk at another car for an entire day.
- When you look in the mirror, instead of judging yourself, find one thing nice to say about your appearance.
- Go for a long walk. Get some fresh air.
- Ask the operator on a call how they are doing and if their day is going well.
- Limit your time scrolling through social media.
- Wear a mask even if it’s annoying.
- Tell someone how much you appreciate them.
- Get down on the floor with your dog or cat and really connect. (This is one of my favorites)
- Eat the cookie.
- Smile. It takes less face muscles than frowning. Trust yourself. Love yourself.