This week I've been inspired by all of the little ways we can improve life for each other. With very little time and energy, we can begin a kindness revolution that will keep going. It's a "pay it forward" concept, but it doesn't require that someone do something for you in order to play your own role.
It's about opening your eyes to the people in your circle, and looking for small ways to encourage them. A kind word here, a card there, a chocolate bar when a person is feeling low and needs a pick-me-up. In our busy, self-centred culture, days become months and then years and we hide behind being busy or stressed, and opportunities to notice and appreciate someone are lost forever.
I realized that this was happening to me, and I wanted to change it without uprooting my life or freaking people out. The solution I came up with is paying closer attention to the needs that are around me and responding where it makes sense to do so. It might take five minutes to pull cookies out of my freezer and drive it to my friend's house, the friend who has been up all night with a fussing baby and is feeling discouraged. To me, the gesture is so small it almost doesn't count, but to her it offers a chance to be noticed, and cared for, and affirmed in the job she is doing as a mom.
I don't want to be so focused on myself anymore. I want to be open to that still, small voice that whispers and nudges me toward someone, and be aware of the ideas that may pop into my head at any given moment. It doesn't mean radically changing my life and giving away huge sums of money, but instead demonstrating a willingness to notice who is hurting and who could use a few words of encouragement.
A friend and I have been practicing this with each other. Simply saying, "You are a good mom/daughter/friend" to someone carries a real uplifting power. I've been coming to terms with the fact that the kind of validation I'm looking for is missing from the parents in my life, so I'm searching for other places to build it in.
I find I walk a little taller, breathe a little deeper, and feel lighter and happier inside when I've been affirmed in this way. I want to bring that to other people, and the process of saying it to someone doesn't cost a thing, and it can make all of the difference in our relationships.