Today is the start of a new year, a new you? A new routine? A resolution yet to be fulfilled. So many opportunities to better ourselves and our situation, a great white hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday. All of these unfulfilled wishes, goals, dreams, desires can be thrust into the forefront of our minds as we settle into the eve of the new year. Many of these goals are for vanity’s sake, while few are actually intended to spread kindness and love to others. Well, this year, I am challenging you to break the mold. Instead of the typical resolution to start going to the gym, cut out processed food, become more organized, I am offering you an alternate option. I am asking you to practice kindness and love. To everyone. To the people who are least likely to receive it. The distracted driver who cut you off, the friend who seems too busy to call, the parking attendant, the barista, the garbage man and the customer service representative who just can’t seem to get your new phone up and running. These people are worthy of our love and kindness. As the new year begins I am challenging myself and you to speak and act out of love and respect, and to put aside feelings of anger, hatred, jealousy, selfishness and bitterness. That is a tall order, I know. It seems so simple until you meet an undesirable obstacle, then it happens. We snarl and groan and make obscene gestures with our eyes, our hands, our hearts. We fall victim to the dreaded monster within who lashes out in anger. And we lose. And we perpetuate the cycle, the idea that people are not treated equal. My New Year’s Challenge is to complete ONE random act of kindness each month, for the entire year of 2015, as outlined below. Of course it would be incredible to do more, but the minimum is a great start.
1. Tell an everyday service man/woman that you appreciate them and gift them with something small to show same. This could be your gardener, mailman, or whoever else you regularly encounter but don’t often thank.
2. Send a letter, not an email, but a hand written letter to a friend or family member who you fail to reach out to on a regular basis. Open your heart and truly connect through the written word.
3. Pick a charity (I have listed a few that I am involved with in a previous post) and make a donation of your choosing.
4. Plan a day your spouse/significant other/best friend will love, and take them on an adventure.
5. Pay for the coffee or food order of the person behind you.
6. Make a treat or put together a gift basket for (3) of your surrounding neighbors, including a note telling them you are grateful to have them as a neighbor.
7. Take notice of your surroundings, and help someone who is struggling or who might need a hand. Can be as simple as picking up something that someone dropped, holding the door open for someone, letting another driver go ahead of you.
8. Resist the urge to overspend, overeat, overindulge, overreact, overestimate, overstimulate. Instead just stop and be still.
9. Tell yourself you are beautiful and mean it.
10. Give a compliment to someone and mean it, without snarling about it after the fact. Take time to recognize good in another and truly tell them.
11. Make amends with someone you hold a grudge against. It can be a simple act of reaching out with a text, email, phone call or coffee invite. The true act is the forgiveness and love you pour out to them through your actions.
12. Do a chore for a family member without mentioning it, just do it out of love.
Some of these are simple and quick, others take forethought and planning. All of these will fill you up. They will fulfill something inside of us, a desire to do good and be good to others. This is a step in the right direction toward loving each other as God first loved us and giving the gift of grace and mercy that we are given fresh every morning. 2014 was a great year, but I am sure that 2015 can be even greater.