The #CaptureKindness Campaign has come to a close. Random Acts of Kindness Week (aka Valentine’s Week) is now over, but the kindness doesn’t need to stop here. Hopefully, after fourteen weeks of pondering, practicing, and capturing kindness, being helpful, respectful, and thoughtful toward the people around you has become part of your routine. Remember: you don’t have to dedicate your life to charity in order to be kind (though you certainly can); sometimes a smile or small gesture is all it takes to make the world a kinder place!
Last week’s challenge was simply to practice random acts of kindness. Last week was also Valentine’s Day with the annual Cheap Candy Day directly following. (It’s okay to be kind and still frugal. Also buying clearance candy keeps it out of a landfill. See? We’re practicing all sorts of kindness here!) So, I made a bunch of little “thank you” cards, attached some sweets and passed them out to people at random! Low cost but high happiness return!
Alright, my friends. That’s it for my #CaptureKindness posts. It’s time to take what you’ve learned and share it with the world. And, in the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln (in Bill & Ted’s imaginings, at least), “Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes.”
Last week’s challenge was to be kind to your friends. You’re probably thinking “Uh, duh, of course I’m nice to my friends,” but are you *kind*? Sometimes, we take our friends for granted. We figure they know we like them because, if we didn’t like them, we wouldn’t spend time with them. But, do they really know it? Have you told them recently. Yes, it’s sometimes hard and weird to tell people you care about them. And, maybe they tease you back because they’re also uncomfortable talking about feelings. But, I guarantee that hearing that someone loves them makes their day.
If you don’t wanna just be all “I love you, man!” to your buds, you can always show them that you care about them through your actions instead. Listen when they talk. Take them seriously. Don’t laugh at someone who’s talking about something that means a lot to them. Keep your promises. Keep their secrets. Don’t hide their phone. Share your cookies. Stick by them. Tell them when their tag is out or theirs is doing that funny stick-up-in-the-back thing. Pay them compliments. Encourage them in their art or sport or whatever their Thing is. Help them do the Thing. Support them. Forgive them. Apologize when you hurt them. It matters.
This past week, I had the opportunity to help two friends in need. They both had some heavy stuff happening in their lives. One friends needed to talk and work out some things, and I was happy to help them with that. The other friend needed some distraction from her woes so we went to brunch and did some shopping and talked about other things. And I was just as happy to help in this way. In different ways, I showed them that I care about them and that their feelings and needs are important to me. I hope they both feel comforted by the time we spent together.
Next week will be the LAST #Capture Kindness post. This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, so I’ll post about that next week. Until then, keep up the kindness!
Welcome back, readers! Last week’s challenge was to be kind to seniors. If you don’t have grandparents or other older relatives living nearby, you might have had to get creative.
As I live with my elderly father, this one was super-easy for me. “Kindness to seniors” is a daily thing for me. My dad is 83 and has some memory and mobility issues, so I regularly help him stay organized and make sure he eats well, takes his medications, and does the things he needs to do. I do his laundry and clean up when he forgets to. However, I confess, I also sometimes get really frustrated with him. It can be hard to live with an aging parent. (I’m sure it’s hard on him, too.) When that happens, and especially during this week of kindness, I remind myself that he can’t help his memory lapses; he’s doing the best he can and that’s really all I can ask of him. And that helps me keep things in perspective and treat him with more empathy and compassion.
And, really, that’s what kindness is all about – remembering that everyone you meet has a background that you know nothing about and reasons for doing that things that they do. Give them the benefit of the doubt and give them a smile. It might be the first one they’ve seen all day.
Keep the kindness flowing!
Last week’s challenge was to be kind to teachers. This should have been easy for teens who are surrounded by teachers every day! As an adult, though, it required a bit more thought.
From “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper.”
I considered visiting the elementary school I attended back in the middle stone age, but schools are a little wary of strangers bearing gifts (with good reason). The same goes for the daycare center where I used to teach.
So I decided to expand the definition of “teacher” to include anyone who has taught me something significant and I made these folks “thank you” cards.
This week, challenge yourself to be especially kind to seniors! See you next week!
Last week was a great week to be kind to animals! With this crazy freeze-and-thaw roller coaster we’ve been on, I’m sure your neighborhood critters could use some extra care!
There are a bunch of great organizations that would love your donation of money or volunteer time! But there are also things you can do at home!
- You can put out food that is nutritious and appropriate for the animals in your area. (Bread, though traditional, can be harmful to ducks and other birds.) Especially in the winter when food can be hard to find, homemade bird feeders like this one are great.
- Make a bat house to encourage bats to hang around (get it?) your neighborhood and eat mosquitoes! You can find out more, including building instructions, from the National Wildlife Federation.
- Clean up after yourself while outside! Pick up trash when you see it. Animals need and deserve a clean place to live!
Keep going! We’re almost done!
Last week’s challenge was to be kind to yourself. This might seem odd, but it is frequently one of the hardest things to do.
There’s something that I’m sure we’ve all experienced called “negative self-talk.” This refers to all those times that you’ve told yourself that you’re not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, fast enough, attractive enough, whatever. Everybody thinks these things at least once in a while. These thoughts are sneaky and don’t ask permission before entering your brain. (Sometimes, they’re also called “brain weasels.”) In some cases, these thoughts can motivate a person to try harder, but usually they just make us feel bad about ourselves. But the good news is: you don’t have to let the brain weasels run your life. Brain weasels lie and distort the truth all the time. So, it’s your job to set the record straight.
Every time you notice yourself thinking something negative, squash it by telling yourself two positive things about yourself. If your brain tells you that you suck because you didn’t beat your previous time when running a mile, remind yourself that it’s okay not to be perfect at everything (no one is.) and even though you might not be a fast runner, you’re a kind, considerate friend and you aced that algebra test last week. Say it out loud to yourself in front of a mirror. (Yes, it feels silly the first few times, but it helps; I swear!) Remind yourself that you are a miracle. Seriously. You are an amazing person capable of so much! And you *are* good enough. You are worthy of love and respect and friendship.
This has been kind of a long, wordy post, but self-care and self-love are things that I’m pretty passionate about. Everyone deserves to know just how awesome they truly are. *You* deserve it. Yet, too many people go through life disliking or even hating themselves, their bodies, and their lives. So, don’t let the brain weasels win. Tell yourself that You. Are. Enough. And, more importantly, believe it!
I hope everyone has had a fantastic holiday season regardless of which or whether you celebrate any winter holidays!
Last week’s kindness challenge was to be kind during the holidays. This can be a really stressful time for a lot of people with family obligations, shopping, cooking, travel, and just a whole lot of demands on our time. That also means there are a lot of opportunities for kindness and lending a hand to someone who needs it.
Food drives for the homeless or economically challenged, delivering meals to those who cannot (for whatever reason) leave their homes, or even inviting over a neighbor or friend that doesn’t have any family in the area so that they don’t have to spend a holiday alone are all hugely kind things to do during the holidays. As always, though, kindness doesn’t have to be huge. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t spend your entire winter break delivering toys to children in the hospital. Mad props to you if you did, but that level of generosity is simply more than many people can manage. Did you help wrap presents? Did you clear your stuff off the table when your parents asked? Did you spend some time talking to your senile Auntie Grizelda and brighten her day? Seriously. Small things. Big impact.
I spent the weekend of Christmas at my sister’s place with some of my favorite people. We have a typical “blended family” with step-siblings and people that may not be related to me by blood but are family nonetheless. We come from five different homes throughout Illinois and Wisconsin so it can be hard to find time to get together. My kindnesses included planning and organizing to get us together, finding a way to get my 83-year-old father to the celebration, asking people to bring food (so the burden wasn’t all on my sister), preparing parts of the feast, bringing a few fondue pots and crock pots for our traditional fondue feast, cleaning up, and spending time swapping silly stories with my youngest nephew who sometimes feels left out because he’s the only one under the age of 25. (He loves to tell me about his Dungeons & Dragons character A LOT.) So, yeah, nothing huge. However, all those small kindnesses helped to make the weekend a lot less stressful for everyone involved.
This week’s challenge is to be kind to yourself. Check back in next week to see how I handled this challenge!