It doesn’t cost anything to brighten someone’s day and your own as well.
Posted in , Apr 18, 2017
This past Lenten season, in addition to giving up my beloved diet soda, I issued myself a big challenge: to go out of my way to do one good thing a day. You know, aside from the usual nice things, like saying “thank you” or holding the door open for people.
It was a pretty incredible journey, and here’s what I learned along the way…
1. You can do a lot with a little.
I didn’t want to go broke during my Easter challenge, so I only allowed myself to spend money on good deeds now and then. To my surprise, there were plenty of things I could do that were free. I wrote a lot of letters and emails. One day, for example, I emailed my friend Don and told him I was thankful for him. I also reached out to old colleagues on Facebook, mailed postcards to friends and made an effort to strike up conversations with strangers.
"Thank You all. Every book, magazine, and letter means a lot to us when we are away from home. It gives us hope, confidence, happiness, strength and pride that someone is there for us." - Former Navy Sailor, Part of Operation Gratitude
2. Follow your intuition.
At the beginning of my challenge, I wrote down the names of a few people I wanted to do nice things for. But, for the most part, I tried not to plan too much and just followed my gut. Often the name of a person would pop into my head, and I’d take that as a sign that it was time to do something nice for them. I also kept my eyes open for opportunities. One morning on the elevator, I noticed a woman who seemed agitated. I asked her how her day was–I couldn’t believe how quickly she opened up!
3. Love those around you.
The two people who benefited most from my little experiment were my sisters, and for one very good reason–they’re always around! Since we live together, I could tell when they needed a little cheering up. Sometimes you don’t have to go very far to spread kindness. You can start with your “inner circle”!
4. Food really does feed the soul.
A large number of my good deeds involved food. Candy, cookies, lots of cups of coffee. None of it was too extravagant (sometimes I’d just give a co-worker a Clementine), but the gifts of food always seemed to do the most good. I guess the way to just about everyone’s heart is through the stomach!
5. Ask how you can help.
One day, I ran out of ideas for doing good. So I turned to my sister, Priscilla, and said, “Is there anything nice I can do for you?” Her face lit up. I assumed she was going to ask for something big, like naming my first-born after her. Instead, she asked if I could braid her hair. (I have limited hair styling skills, but I can make a mean fishtail braid). I’ll never forget how delighted she was over a simple braid!
6. Be prepared for wonder.
Early into my project, I noticed that nice things kept happening to me. One day, a box of my favorite chocolates showed up at work. Another day I received a quilt in the mail. Then sugar cookies. People I’d lost touch with contacted me out of the blue. I was even invited to a free concert! The more good I put out into the world, the more wonder seemed to unfold.
What about you? Did you experience any wonder this Lenten season? Share your stories below!