This week, thanks to one of my favorite bloggers, Alex “The Bridgemaker” Blackwell, who produces a blog dedicated to faith, sharing inspiration and highlighting stories of personal change, I officially jumped on the 31 Days of Kindness bandwagon, which started Tuesday, March 1.
It’s not too late for you to be a part of it – just jump on in!
What is the 31 days of Kindness project, you ask?
It’s a campaign to get each of us focused on showing kindness every single day of our lives. We are encouraged to perform one act of kindness daily as a reminder that we should do good always. Kindness should be a habit, not just an occasional thing we do when we are feeling up to it.
To illustrate the point, let’s start with this video compliments of the “Free Hugs Campaign” (with 67 million hits, I promise it’s worthwhile):
This concept, of course, speaks to our Jewish heritage and tradition: Gemilut Chassadim – doing deeds of loving kindness. The practice of doing acts of loving kindness is integral to who we are as Jewish people, a main pillar of our faith (and one of the three pillars on which the world rests, so say “the rabbis”), no matter what level of practice we may observe (or not observe). It is the very essence of being human, and it can mean so many things: visiting the sick, comforting those who mourn, feeding the hungry, giving Tzedekah (charity) and all that stuff that just makes you feel really good about doing good for other people (that includes offering free hugs).
Doing good feels good – so why not do it??
Two days in (I started a day early, eager to get started!), and I’ve held the door open for two people in wheelchairs, and I’ve tried to be inclusive by inviting people to an upcoming gathering I’m planning when I knew they didn’t have any place to go. I also made a batch of homemade Reese’s Peanut Cups and gave them to people I knew would like them; it took very little time to whip them up. (Want one? Let me know! They’re delicious!).
And the result of these few kind and simple acts? Good feelings all around. And a feeling of contentment, satisfaction and peace for me.
I’m not certain I wouldn’t have done those things otherwise, but the idea is that I am highly aware of what I’m doing, and the possible impact it may have made on the people involved.
The late Sol Silverman, a political activist who lived in Jupiter, Florida, was mentioned recently in a New York Times editorial about his efforts to help others. Instead of complaining about how a growing number of Hispanic immigrant men were hanging around one street corner each morning looking for day laborer jobs and clogging sidewalks and disrupting traffic, he helped create and fund a community center right at the intersection where the men can wait inside, and while there get counseling on immigration, job training, child care, finances, and language, among other things. Silverman had a vision that I daresay must have been borne out of kindness, to help people achieve their highest potential, to improve the quality of life for others.
Daily, thousands of other men and women are using their creativity and energy to do good deeds.
I’ve always tried to be kind in my life in general; I think my parents did a good job of instilling that virtue in me. But to really think about making a conscious effort to be a do-gooder takes energy and discipline. It’s great to be reminded of this by The Bridgemaker. Sign on to the challenge, adopt kindness into your daily practice, and see just how good it feels. Free hugs, anyone?
I’ll report back next month and let you know how I did. Let us know about what types of kindness you’re practicing this month! And don’t forget to check out The Bridgemaker’s website too for more details on the 31 days of kindness campaign and to download a manifesto for making kindness a daily habit.
A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, Lisa Robbins is often pondering life’s most important questions, such as “Why *can’t* you burn the candle at both ends?” and “What’s the most strategic way to win a game of rock-paper-scissors?” She’s the director of Let My People Grow, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Heels!), and has a weakness for vegetarian food, NPR, bluegrass music and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.