This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week, (2/11 – 2/15). It’s a week
dedicated devoted to doing unexpected things to cheer or assist people. And did you know? The concept is not as old as you may think. Credit for the idea has been attributed to Anne Herbert who scrawled, “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a place mat in 1982.
While I do try to do little things for others on occasion, some on the sly, like leaving a “thank you” note for a co-worker after they have stepped away from their desk, I love that this concept has a week dedicated to celebrating it.
Participating is easy and if low on funds, it really doesn’t have to cost a thing
Here are some ideas:
- Be thoughtful – Is a friend having a tough day? Make a handmade flower or card and give it to her/him.
- Donate your time/talents – Is there a group that could benefit from your skills or elbow grease?
- Say Thank you – (Of course a favorite of mine) From your co-worker, to your boss, to the mailman, to the plow driver who helped get you on the road after a storm/blizzard, everyone deserves a thank you at some point.
- Send a friend a letter/card – Let them know that they were thought of today.
- Write a thank you note to someone who has inspired you, or helped you out – (Again another favorite of mine) Think of how much of an unexpected, but pleasant a surprise this would be. Plus they’ll notice the effort you took to hand-write it.
- Call your family, a friend or significant other and tell them that you love them.
- Say hello and give a smile to a stranger – Your bright attitude may just turn their day around if they are having a bad day.
- Already shoveling snow – (I know we are in the Northeast) take a moment to shovel or clear off your neighbors’ car/space.
- Take on a chore or task that a teammate or significant other has been meaning to do but just can’t seem to find the time to do.
- Share a list of local tips and key stores to someone who is new to your complex or neighborhood.
- Do nice things and don’t tell anyone about it – Ironically this can seem hard. HOWEVER…the effort tends to be more powerful and you are more humble for taking this approach.
Again these are just some ideas, the options are endless
Using the internet you can of course find other ideas for things to do. I particularly like this list from another blogger at And Then We Saved. Another, more notable idea was the one most recently proposed by Anne Curry after the Newtown, CT massacre. It was the “26 Acts of Kindness,” challenge that went viral on Facebook. The number 26 represented completing one act of kindness for each child and adult that was lost that day.
You can also find companies and organizations promoting this concept and week
You can visit the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation that works to inspire people to practice kindness and pass it on. I also found an article from a mall property owner who is running a promotion to celebrate the week – perhaps there is a participating mall near you?
I don’t think that random acts of kindness should only be performed only during this one week in the year. Think of what a kinder, happier place we could have if everyone was friendlier, more gracious, more encouraging and showed their appreciation on a daily basis. Giving, seems to open up something inside of us that allows us to receive more and to give more. It creates a positive and reciprocal cycle. You’d be amazed at what you might receive simply by giving/doing nice things for others.
Why not take the first step and do something nice for your neighbor like picking up their newspaper from the curb and dropping it on their doorstep, or inserting a “good luck” note in your child’s lunch, or tell your significant other how much their recent help for you meant in a hand-written note. You’ll probably make their day.
I’d love to hear what ideas you come up with this week to assist and cheer people — please know that you don’ t have to share the ones you’re planning to keep secret! And pass this along! Be the one to start a positive ripple effect.
Uh Oh! I need to run… my co-worker just left her desk and I want to drop off a “thank you” note!
This will be a slight departure from my usual posts that focus on appreciation I know, but candidly, I was so inspired by a post I saw on The Lettered Cottage, that I couldn’t shake it from my thoughts when I was trying to decide what to publish next. Plus the more I kept going back to their blog, the more inspired I became to take this “challenge” on.
I’ve decided to select my own “Word-of-the-Year”
Per the Lettered Cottage, the objective of “Word-of-the-Year” is to choose one word that has the potential to inspire you and create intention in your life. Whenever you think about that word, it should reinvigorate you and get you back on track if you’ve strayed from a goal that you may have set.
I’ve been thinking long and hard about what word would be best suited to me for the coming year. While I’ve frequently set annual goals vs. resolutions, I’ve rarely thought of a word that would sum a year up, or in this case, kick it off. I’m thinking of this “word” as more as a mantra; a word that I can refer back to when I need to pump myself up or to call upon as a reminder than there is always a next step or hope.
My word for 2013 is:
I know it goes against Yoda who said, ” Do or not do. There is no try,” but this works for me.
I think at times we get stuck and only think about all of the negatives and reasons why we cannot do something. If in 2013 I can focus on “try” then I can say, “I have nothing to lose if I simply try. At least I will have made an effort, as who knows what the outcome will be?” So going forward, I’ll continue to “try” to do my best; “try” to see if there is another solution or another person who can assist; “try” again if I have fallen down or temporarily failed; and “try” to find small things to appreciate and cheer me up when things look bleak.
Let me know what you think….
Inspired? What to participate but need some “word” ideas? The Lettered Cottage had a follow-up to their initial “Word-of-the-Year” post — a “link-up” party where others posted their “words.” You can check it out here.
Happy New Year!
Wishing all of my followers and visitors a very Happy New Year! Thank you for your continued support and readership. Your suggestions have inspired me! I’m looking forward posting more blog articles in 2013 that might also inspire you.
May the coming year be filled with joy, success, and an appreciation for new, small, and big things!
All the best,
Especially in December, it seems that you can’t pick up a paper or watch the news without hearing about another school, town or community barring or cancelling a holiday celebration due to calls protesting the event for being too exclusive or that the name alienates select groups. It’s a growing trend that I call being becoming too “PC.” I almost want to yell, “Can’t we all just get along?!”
Are we becoming so politically correct in trying to include everyone, that we’re losing sight of our appreciation and respect of one another’s customs and traditions?
Here are three
recent events I heard about this year:
- Just before Hanukkah, a holiday concert was cancelled. The school planned to cover Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa songs. All of the big winter holidays were being covered, so it seemed that everyone was included – sounds great right?… Wrong… people complained this time that it was too religious.
- In another instance, a governor planned to not have a Christmas tree (which he said must be called a “holiday tree” the year before), at all this year. He was so deluged with complaints from his constituents and the state’s Catholic churches, as well as criticized by the media, that he put up the tree and announced a tree lighting 30 minutes before. This time he called it a “Christmas tree.”
- I also heard about more and more schools eliminating holiday concerts and forbidding students from wishing each other a “Merry Christmas.” Instead they’ve insisted that everyone say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” for all holidays because it’s more politically correct and inclusive. (In some cases students were suspended if they didn’t follow these rules.)
I’d like to go back to a time where we saw value in hearing about and allowing celebrations for all of the holidays. You learn about the diversity that makes us who we are.
When I was growing up, we learned about all sorts of different holidays and their origins. While I did not learn of Kwanzaa until more recently, we learned about US holidays as well as international ones like Boxing Day, Canada Day and Three Kings. While I may never have celebrated some of these holidays, it was interesting to learn more about them, who celebrated them, and in some cases, hear the songs I might not normally hear. We were tolerant of each other’s differences, and appreciated that we had them and celebrated them.
Perhaps because I celebrate Christmas I can’t fully understand why it could be seen as offensive to say Merry Christmas or not feel bad later if I’ve said those words. In my mind I’m wishing another well at this time of year. (If I know that you celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, I’m always happy to extend that greeting your way as well.)
I’ll probably always call the tree we put up in our homes or in our towns and cities a Christmas tree. That said, I’m more than happy to have symbols in my town that celebrate your holiday – like a menorah or one that would reflect your appreciation and celebration of Kwanzaa.
I only ask, can we please stop the trend of eliminating phrases, or public displays, or even making me feel bad about the traditions I have simply because other do not share them or they are no longer seen as “politically correct”? I assure you I have no ill will for others when I use or appreciate them.
What do you think? Do you respect and appreciate the holidays that you may not celebrate? Is it right to eliminate symbols from our towns, cities and schools based on the fact that others may not celebrate them – even if we provide equal prominence?
By now you’ve probably seen the picture and/or heard about NYPD Officer Lawrence DePrimo’s random act of kindness (seen below).
If you didn’t, a few weeks ago, NYPD Officer DePrimo saw a man who didn’t have any shoes or socks on — it was 35 degrees outside. After inquiring and hearing that the man did not have any shoes or socks, Officer DePrimo proceeded to a nearby Skechers shoe store and bought a sturdy pair of winter boots and socks. These cost him, $75, all out of his own pocket. He did this out of the kindness of his own heart and appreciation and concern for the welfare of his fellow-man. (The manager of the Skechers store was also said to have provided his manager’s discount to reduce the cost (to the $75) when he heard what the officer planned to do.)
The act was caught by NYC tourist, Jennifer Foster, who posted it to her Facebook page, which quickly went viral. You can read more in this NY Times article (just one of many) covering this story.
I love random acts of kindness. They truly show the character of who we are, when we give selflessly, especially when (we think) no one else is looking.
To be honest though, I did have some reservations when I first heard about this story. Don’t get me wrong, I love random acts of kindness, but I wondered if it lessened what Officer DePrimo did to a degree or if it would discourage him from doing something similar again because it was publicized. Could there be any negative repercussions due to the publicity? Or… could Jennifer Foster’s Facebook post actually inspire others to give at this time of year, versus only expecting to get? From what I heard in the many interviews, Officer DePrimo just simply seems to be a stand-up guy who would do it again in a heartbeat; it’s just who he is.
Unfortunate Turn of Events
I did unfortunately read about some negative repercussions today, and surprisingly they were from the homeless man who received the boots, Jeffrey Hillman. In a (12/3/12) NY Times article, Mr. Hillman said that while he was moved and appreciative of Officer DePrimo’s actions and the public’s response, he was taken aback by the posting of his picture (without his consent) and that he now has concerns that he will be harmed while wearing the boots. He has taken to walking barefoot again and has hidden the boots in a “safe” place.
I can only hope that Mr. Hillman can be persuaded to change his mind and that his response to Officer DePrimo’s generosity will not dissuade others from performing random acts of kindness to help others.
What do you think? If you were Officer DePrimo, do you think you would give selflessly again after learning of Jeffrey Hillman’s response?
Have you ever performed a random act of kindness that had an either positive or negative effect?
This week we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s often a time for reflection and appreciation for what and who we have in our lives.
I thought I’d share the top 5 things I’m most thankful for this year…
- My Dad… He’s provided on-going support, guidance and a hug if/when needed. (Hey everyone needs a good hug now and then!)
- My family (which includes my friends who I often consider family)… For many of the same reasons. They have listened closely, but instead of judging me, have provided candid feedback and support when I needed it most. Plus no one can make me laugh at myself more than they can.
- My health… I’ve been fortunate stay healthy this year – knock on wood!
- Ability to Roll with the Punches (or Try to)…Today’s economy is challenging. We’ve all been asked to make changes, sacrifices and do things we may not have thought we could or would have in the past. At times this year I’ve gone in directions I never thought I would — some of which have proved awe-inspiring and have had great outcomes, others… not so much. I’ve enduring challenges that seem insurmountable — but were not. I’ve also shown a brave face when adversity came calling – proving I could carry on. **This one is partly due to the support I’ve received from the first two on my list.
- Confidence to Launch this Blog… It was a long time ambition of mine to write more/become an author — and when it became easier to start your own blog, it was something I aspired to do. I’m so happy that I started writing The Appreciation Factor and that I’ve been lucky enough to attract and gain great new followers like you each day.
A special thanks to those who encouraged me to take chance in the beginning and who followed me from day 1. I’ve also enjoyed hearing about people/followers who have found and read my posts through other means, and those who have sent great ideas for new ones. You inspire me — Keep them coming!!
What are you most thankful for??
I’d love to hear your list!
P.S. On a related note, some companies have started to send Thanksgiving cards vs. the traditional Christmas/Holiday cards to thank me for my business/patronage this year. (So far I’ve received two and candidly would welcome this trend with open arms…))
HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY?
As we approach Labor Day weekend, I am reflecting back on the past three months and how I’ve noticed that common courtesy and etiquette seem to go out the window when some people go on vacation, and especially to the beach.
Case in point… I’m a beach person. I go often and go early to find a good spot, (I’m usually on the sand by 11am and stay until 6/6:30pm). As you know, beaches attract locals and vacationers alike. I’ve found that many beach goers, especially those who are not native or residents of the area seem to throw out good sense and etiquette about personal space when it comes to choosing their spot. Sometimes it’s almost as if they say, “This is where I want to sit, everyone deal with it or move!”
Several times this summer, I was happily ensconced on the beach with a clear view of the ocean and what I felt was an adequate 5-10 foot perimeter between me and the beach goers around me; when suddenly… duh duh dunnn… along came a large family, or group of rowdy adults (all strangers to me) who unceremoniously dropped their chairs, blankets, coolers within 2-3 feet of my stuff. Often they even positioned themselves directly in front of me (blocking my ocean view). Meanwhile, there was still plenty of available beach space a bit further down or closer to the dunes. I was left with little room to move, I couldn’t see the water, and invariably I got to hear private stories and recounts about a sordid night out or personal health issues. Believe me when I say this, I learned things I prefer not to know!
Now I know many of you will say, “What’s the big deal?” or even, “Do you own the beach?” (Hey I’ve even been asked this by these offenders, when I’ve diplomatically asked them if they could move over a bit.) NO, I don’t own the beach, but I do find this to be a personal space/common courtesy issue, and what I refer to as beach etiquette.
Take for example a situation that isn’t on the beach. Would you casually sit within 2-3 feet of someone without asking if you could sit there? Think about a half empty lunch table or counter, wouldn’t you ask if you could share the table or whether the chair was taken if one was open next to another patron? It’s the same courtesy you would show in these instances, just in a beach setting.
Yes I agree that the beach is a little different in its make-up, and if we were at a sold out concert on the sand, people would be sitting almost on top of each other. But in most cases, there is plenty of room for everyone; it just might mean taking a few extra steps. Steps and courtesy that some of these beach goers seem to prefer not to take/show.
Here are some Examples:
Acceptable: Note: it would have also been OK if this group was even a bit closer.
Not Acceptable: Note this family was within 3ft and it was almost 4pm with plenty of room available. Other families have been even closer, at around 2ft, but I’ve been too intimidated to take their picture after hearing about a delicate operation and a family cheating scandal!
I often wondered if this just happened to me – especially as I’ve been known to go to the beach solo. But I’ve been seeing this happen more and more often, primarily to small groups of 1-3 people. My personal experience has also shown that it’s typically the vacationers, tourists or non-residents who ignore beach etiquette.
I wonder why this is. Is it the “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” mentality where all good sense and common courtesy goes out the window? Is it that the larger group feels that the individual(s) are insignificant and that the larger group prevails? Maybe it’s just ignorance. I’m truly curious. I’d love to know the phenomenon behind why this seems acceptable.