Have you ever been sitting in your car at a red light and suddenly you find yourself thinking about a certain friend, relative, or neighbor? Thinking about the relationship and how much it means to you. And how you should really give them a call, invite them over for dinner, or perhaps visit them at their retirement home? Then what happens? The light turns green and the thought is left behind.
Or perhaps maybe you have considered giving your time at a local food shelter or even making it a family affair but quickly excuse the idea. You are way too busy with work, household responsibilities, running kids around, etc. You’ll reconsider when the children’s schedules aren’t so hectic and work let’s up a little, maybe next year?
Maybe your spouse has been bugging you to go on a date. But you keep putting it off until you have enough money budgeted for a fancy meal and night out on the town. You’ll go in a couple months once a few things are paid off.
What if there were no more tomorrows? Those friends, relatives, and neighbors would never know how much they meant to you. And the people’s lives you could have touched and whose lives could have touched yours through volunteering will never happen. Why do you keep putting off gratitude until tomorrow? Why do you keep putting off acts of kindness until you have more time, more money?
I hadn’t really considered how often I put off small acts of kindness and gratitude until I received an email from a gentleman about his wife who is a cancer survivor. As I read the email and watched the video it touched my heart deeply.
Heather is an 8-year survivor of mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. When she was diagnosed, she had just given birth to our little girl, Lily. Heather was told she only had 15 months left to live. I was quickly thrown into the role of caregiver and together we decided we would do whatever it took to beat the cancer. Nearly 8 years later, Heather is cancer free and doing what she loves most; raising Lily. Because she beat the odds and is one of few long-term survivors of mesothelioma, it is our mission to spread awareness of mesothelioma by sharing our personal story.
If her cancer has taught us anything, it’s the value of life and the value of gratitude. Her diagnosis was in the Holiday season, and every year around this time she gets what we call the “Holiday Blues” Therefore, she created “30 Days of Thankfulness” where she acknowledges something in her life that she is thankful for every day throughout the month. (Taken from email that was received)
I think sometimes we forget just how important small acts of kindness can be. We almost fool ourselves into thinking that sending that text, card, calling, paying for a perfect stranger’s coffee, etc. isn’t significant enough. Will it really affect them that much? Will it really have any impact on them? Why should I even bother?
After watching and reading Heather’s story it really got me thinking about others who might be experiencing the holiday blues so I did a little research. Depression and suicides rates are at the highest during the holidays. So yes, it turns out that an act of kindness could have a significant impact on a person’s day, holiday season, even their life! Often time’s people keep their emotions and struggles bottled up. Who’s not to say that receiving that card via snail mail, an invitation to dinner, or having a perfect stranger pay for their coffee might be just what they needed to prevent themselves from taking catastrophic steps.
So the challenge is this…
Don’t put off small acts of kindness. We are not promised tomorrow. Start today. Start small. Stay small. Remember it isn’t the grandeur of the gesture but rather the love behind it. Starting this week put some action behind those kind thoughts. Do at least one small act of kindness each week. It can be well thought out like a special card or package in the mail for a friend or a random pay for a strangers coffee/food. There are only 52 weeks in a year. We should be able to come up with 52 acts of kindness. That’s right; this challenge is running ALL YEAR! Are you up for it? I think you are! I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the results and consequences that your acts of kindness will have on your own life.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken with in a long time
Send an “I am thinking of you” card to family/friend
Send a car package to family/friend
Put together a kit for homeless (Ziploc with small toiletries)
Make a meal for homeless shelter
Offer to babysit for another family (and don’t expect anything in return)
Help someone for FREE (clean house, yard pick-up/maintenance, help with taxes, etc.)
Pay for the person’s order behind you in the drive-thru
Leave waitress a nice tip
Feed the meter for someone
Leave coins in vending machine
Offer to go shopping for elderly neighbor
Shovel neighbors drive
Mail money to a perfect stranger with a small encouraging note
So what do you say? Are you up for the challenge? Have a past experience or act of kindness to share? Have any ideas to add to the list?