Do you find it sad, as I do, that each year as the holiday season bids its farewell so do our attempts at random acts of kindness? Does it really take a jolly old soul on a silent night, roasting your chestnuts for you to remember that you share this planet with others?
Sometime in late November it happens. People just seem happy to hold doors, they make eye contact, even smile when they do. They donate their money and volunteer their precious time. (Well of course they do. Santa’s watching, silly!) The truth is, the holiday spirit begins and ends with all of us.
Helping others, making the effort, feels good. According to Health Day, doing nice things for someone else leaves people feeling good about themselves. Practicing random acts of kindness has been scientifically proven to have therapeutic value in treating mood disorders like depression. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, said, “They seem really trivial. But for the depressed person, they aren’t trivial at all.” There are lots of gentle remedies that can have a big impact on depression, like the blue god strain of cannabis, it’s just a case of doing your research and giving them a try, even if you don’t have much faith in the idea of them, they can surprise you.
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For anyone living with depression, a small gesture from another person can make a big difference to their mood.
You may be thinking your small donation could hardly make a difference – but you’re wrong. Many small donations to charity in concert with other small donations can be monumental. Only give what your budget allows – make your own box to check if you have to. (It’s an act of kindness, not a recipe to become homeless.) And pick a cause that is close to your heart – not just the first thing that’s been shoved in your mailbox. For me it’s animals, mostly dogs. (although the Dancing Bears of Borneo had me racing to the phone not long ago!)
Need a little help? Try the internet. Here’s one. Charitywatch.org
Random acts of kindness don’t need to involve money, only time and effort. Here are 9 that won’t get your tinsel in a tangle:
1. During inclement weather, check on your elderly neighbors (more then once) . Ask if you can pick up anything at the grocery store. Sometimes it does take a village.
2. Shoveling your sidewalk? Go a little further and help out your neighbor. (Don’t have a heart attack – just be kind.)
3. Play it forward. Buying fast food with a gift card? Think about using the balance toward the meal for the car behind you.
4. When mowing your lawn, maybe your neighbor could use a hand with his. How long could it take. (Unless you live on the Ponderosa, in which case you most likely have cows not lawn mowers…)
5. Make a double portion of your own family’s dinner and donate a meal to someone recovering from surgery, bringing home a new baby, going through a hardship.
6. Bring in your neighbor’s trash can from the curb on collection day or newspaper to their door. Sometimes it’s little effort for you, and a big deal for them.
7. Offer a ride to the doctor’s office.
8. Send a few words of encouragement to someone. In today’s world of social media, you don’t even need a stamp! If you don’t consider yourself a wordsmith, let Hallmark do it for you.
9. Offer to walk your neighbor’s dog while you’re walking your own. Make sure you confer with said dog first so your act of kindness doesn’t end at the emergency vet.
Alright all you pessimistic, glass-half-empty people. I can feel your scorn from here. You’re telling me you’re not a descendent of Mother Teresa, Gandhi, or any Pope living or dead – closer perhaps to one of the Sons of Anarchy (I miss you already!).
I get it. I’m not your mother – just a writer. all I’m saying is try it. Take the challenge – it feels good. Or you can just wait until next Christmas to see if Jacob Marley sends 3 ghosts your way.
In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless Us, Every One!”
Send me your comments!! From The Point
Always, Lori Flynn