Here in Chicago, IL, we have experienced the full blows of winter. Even though I love cold weather, I can sometimes fall prey to the winter blues. And so, I’ve decided to continue on with some prescriptions for the winter blah’s.
I’ve written the last few weeks about some happiness enhancing strategies from the field of positive psychology.
If you’ve missed some of the strategies, it’s okay, because you can catch up by reading the articles below:
This week I’m going to share a fourth happiness enhancing strategy: practicing acts of kindness.
A Christian Perspective
Because I’m writing as a Christian, I would like to share some Scripture from the Bible about practicing acts of kindness.
I John 4:19 states, “We love, because He first loved us.” If you read the parable of the prodigal son from the Gospels, you will know that you are reading my story. I have failed and fallen short in so many ways in my life, and yet God has shown me grace and love in countless ways. When I think about the ways in which He has loved me, even though I was so undeserving, it creates a heart of gratitude, and a wish to reach out and show that love to others around me.
Jesus Christ summed up what He felt were the most important commands in all of Scripture. A wise Jewish teacher came to him and questioned him as to what the greatest/most important commandment in the Jewish Scriptures was.
Jesus replied, in Matthew 22: 36-40:
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Because of the answers I’ve found, I want nothing more than to obey God. In doing so, I attain my greatest happiness, because I have joy that I am doing what God created me to do.
And so, having given my own personal reasons for pursuing acts of kindness, I am going to share 10 acts of kindness that you can practice. I believe that practicing these acts of kindness without any wish for recognition or praise is the best way to do this. You can do these acts of kindness spontaneously, or you can plan for them.
I including some inspirational kindness quotes along the way to urge you to incorporate this positive practice into your life.
Random Acts of Kindness
Help Someone For Free
A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble. ~Charles H. Spurgeon
When we’re doing something for ourselves, or if we’re getting paid to do a task, we have an easy time putting time and effort into our work. How about doing the same kind of work, but for free? You can do a job like mowing the lawn, cleaning someone’s house, or babysitting for a friend. Surprise them by doing it for free! No strings attached.
Read to a Child
Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness. ~Seneca
Do you have children of your own? Take some time to read a story to them! If you don’t have children, consider doing this for a niece or nephew. Or, you can join my mother! She is retired, but has found time to volunteer to read to children in neighboring schools who are struggling with their literacy skills. Here’s an article that shows you how you can become involved locally.
Write A Note of Appreciation to a Friend or Relative
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~Leo Buscaglia
Too many times we fail to communicate our heartfelt love or appreciation to a friend or relative. Consider writing a thank you card or letter to these people in your life. You will never regret it, and it may turn someone’s life around!
Cook A Meal For Someone
When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people. ~Abraham Joshua Heschel
Do you know a friend or neighbor who is sick, or busy with a new baby or a sick child? Or do you have new neighbors who have recently moved in? Bring someone a meal! It communicates kindness, and reduces stress!
Bring Treats Into Work
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~Plato
I’ve been impressed by many kind co-workers at my workplace over the past few years. Many of them will bake coffee cake, or buy bagels, or bring in healthy snacks for the team. It brightens the day and changes the world of everyone who receives this kindness.
Nominate Someone At Work or In Your Community
A kind word is like a Spring day. ~Russian Proverb
Have you ever received a letter of thanks from a customer or co-worker? It can really make your day! Take time to notice a job well done, either at your work, or at any other place of business in your community. Is there a receptionist or banker who does their work with a cheerful attitude and with excellence? Make sure their boss knows about it! Do you have a co-worker who has brought excellence to their work recently? Toot their horn! Let their boss know about it!
Make and Give Carepacks to the Homeless
What this world needs is a new kind of army – the army of the kind. ~Cleveland Amory
Every day, we brush our teeth and comb our hair. We have warm socks and gloves to keep us warm in cold weather.
The homeless do not have these things. Often, they are barely getting by on a day-to-day basis.
Consider putting together a number of carepacks and distributing them to the homeless.
You can also get in touch with homeless shelters and find out what kind of donations or products they are low on. Use this homeless shelter directory to find homeless shelters in your area that you can partner with.
Donate One Dollar
You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you. ~John Wooden
How many times are you greeted outside a grocery store, or in the midst of traffic, or even at work by someone who is raising funds for a worthwhile cause? Many times we pass these opportunities by because we feel like we just don’t have enough money. But even $1 will make a bigger difference than you know. You will never know how much $1 will be multiplied in peoples’ lives because you gave it!
Help Third World Businesses Succeed
Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up. ~Jesse Jackson
I’m going to highlight Kiva, an organization that provides micro-finance loans to businesses in third world countries. I just visited their site, and the good news is that all their entrepreneurs are fully funded! However, you can go a step further and donate to a business. You will be making a huge difference in ending poverty and hunger in some part of the world.
Feed A Starving Child
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. ~George Washington Carver
Feed My Starving Children is a Christian organization with the following vision:
With God’s help Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) will strive to eliminate starvation in children throughout the world by helping to instill compassion in people to hear and respond to the cries of those in need.
Often, when I give money to charitable organizations, I want to make sure that the leadership is going to put the money to good use, and that they are accountable in how they spend the money. Feed My Starving Children publishes its financial reports on its site. Also, per the site, a single meal costs only 24 cents to produce, and 94 percent of total donations goes directly toward the food program.
I’ve talked to many families in the Chicago area who’ve had the opportunity to model acts of kindness to their own kids by taking the family to a Mobile Pack event. This is an event where your family and other volunteers will pack meals for children across the country and across the world, so that there will be one less hungry child around the world. Talk about changing lives!
Acts of Kindness Resources
Kindness Quotes and Sayings: This is where I found all the quotes for this blog post, so I’m giving credit where credit is due
Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a site that can help you put acts of kindness to work in your life as a continuing positive practice. Many of the ideas for this post came from this site.
Random Acts of Kindness, by the editors of Conari Press (2002), contains many more ideas you can apply in your life.
I hope you enjoyed this post. I was truly inspired as I researched the quotes and the ideas. You and I can change the world this week by practicing these random acts of kindess
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