The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to Appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.


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What Will You Do? How will you make a Difference?

No-act-of-kindness QuoteThis 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?

 

 

Every day

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!


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Random Act of Kindness Making Waves

By now you’ve probably seen the picture and/or heard about NYPD Officer Lawrence DePrimo’s random act of kindness (seen below).

Photo by: Jennifer Foster

Photo by: Jennifer Foster

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? 


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Lent – A Slightly Different Approach

Today starts the first day of Lent, the Christian observance of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.  For those of you who might not know…  Lent as described by Wikipedia, is traditionally marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance, (regret for and amending of our sins) for 40 days.  Many who observe Lent may fast or give up favorite things like chocolates, alcohol or swearing, others may attend church services more regularly to renew their faith.

After speaking with my minister a few years ago, I have taken a slightly different tack when it comes to Lent.  Rather than giving up luxury items or fasting, I try to be a better person in my treatment, care, and interaction of/with others for those 40 days.     

 Some examples of how I’ve participated in Lent have been:

  • Working at my local food bank   
    I’ve continued doing this to this day
  • Taking the higher road/giving the benefit of doubt when faced with adversity
    I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes.  Perhaps their anger or rudeness is not really about me (even though may seem like it).  Perhaps he/she is just having a really bad day and I’m in front of them.  Reacting to their rudeness or anger it may only escalate it or extend it to others later in the day.  Same goes for someone who cuts me off. I try to think that they are in a bigger hurry than me.  (Note:  Candidly, this perspective doesn’t always work, but I do try to put it into practice when I can!)
  • Practicing random acts of kindness
    I’ve added change to an expiring meter, helped someone up the stairs, and simply just held the door open for someone else.
  • Appreciating the things that I have in my life vs. the things that I do not
    I’ve found this last one harder at times to accept, because there are times I’ve yearned for things that I wanted vs. needed.  So perhaps in retrospect, this is the one I should really focus on during each Lenten season and beyond because it talks about giving things up.

Maybe I’m taking more of a modern twist on the whole Lenten season or I’m missing the point.  I’m just not sure I see the value or what I would truly take away from just giving up my favorite foods for 40 days when I know that I can have them again in March or April.  Perhaps this true appreciation and the act of helping is a better way to look at this time of year, at least for me.  I know it makes me feel like I’m making a difference in making my community and my world a better place.  And hey, if I can continue to do these things beyond the allocated 40 days, all the better.

If you’re celebrating Lent this year, what will be your approach?