Earlier this year, word spread like so many scattered seeds: “Dean’s having surgery.” Canes and walkers sitting idle in basements and attics found their way to my home, as did offers to help out with Miss Noelle, and numerous “Do you need anything?” queries. In a few months, word spread seeds of a different sort: “Jean Marie needs plants for her new garden.” That’s when the plant material arrived – dropped off on my front stoop, carted over in wheelbarrows, and handed to me outright as I walked Miss Noelle.
I am no longer surprised by others’ generous kindness because I understand that when we give of our hearts, our time, our experience, and our material things, we feel good about helping and, we feel good about ourselves.
Now especially, as many of us settle into a modified version of the holiday season, our hopefulness may be tempered by the awareness of the many things we cannot change. We may feel that what we can do to make a difference is too small. Please resist getting stuck in that misguided place. Choose instead to empower yourself from within by exploring how your own personal “brand” of generous kindness can make a difference in 2021. And, don’t wait until you catch wind of someone’s scattered seeds. Be generous in simple ways, just because doing so is its own reward. Be kind in simple ways just because you can help fill someone else’s well of kindness while refilling your own. I can think of a thousand ways to shower others with material expressions of generosity, but these mostly immaterial ways are priceless:
Make a “To Do” of asking, “What kindness can I convey today?”
Be the boss of your own thoughts (banish the negative when it comes up)
Reframe an unkind thought about someone into a positive (or at least neutral) thought
Delete that internal scorecard of kindnesses given and kindnesses received
Compliment three people today, no excuses
Send an uplifting text to someone who needs it
Tell a co-worker who is awesome how and why they are awesome
Tell someone who doesn’t expect it the difference they have made in your life
“Demand” to speak to a manager so that you can compliment their employee
Tell a parent you appreciate their well-mannered child (reinforce positive parenting!)
Leave a love note for the one with whom you share your life (doodles and symbols count!)
Smile at everyone – yes, everyone
Drop off old towels and blankets at your local animal shelter
Bring in your neighbor’s trash barrel
Scrape you neighbor’s windshield on an icy morning
Give things away for free on your neighborhood site
Pick up litter in your neighborhood as you walk the dog (everyone benefits!)
Let the person in line behind you go ahead of you (you can do it!)
Return a shopper’s cart for them (just because)
Send a “Thank You” card to your local police or fire station (especially now)
Which of these generous kindnesses feel “right” to you? And, if you have your own list, all the better. The question is this: “How will you think, speak, and act in this new year to keep generous kindness alive in you and in your world?” I don’t doubt for a moment that change really does begin with me. It first stirs in my own mind and heart, making its way into my words and actions. I am the master of my own influence, and so are you, each of us creating our experience by the scattered seeds we sow.