Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Extraordinary Power of Small Acts of Kindness

"Never get tired of doing little things for others. Sometimes those little things occupy the biggest parts of their hearts"


For as long as I can remember, I have consciously focused on kindness as a walking meditation. Initially, a commitment to kindness can start with a morning prayer, or stepping out of one's daily schedule for a moment to be quiet and affirm one's commitment to look for opportunities to be kind. Over time, when these practices sink deeply enough into our hearts and souls, being a bearer of small acts of kindness can become a powerful way of life. I have never ceased to marvel at the extraordinary power of even a small act of kindness.

If I am having a hard day, a small act of kindness from a friend or loved one offers comfort deeper than words. A hug or an arm around my shoulders can melt my tension or my tears. A bouquet of flowers can make me smile. On a good day, a small act of kindness magnifies the joy. It is always the right time to offer small acts of kindness. Being the bearer of kindness can make you a "magical stranger" in the the life of a loved one or even a stranger.

Here are some ideas of small way to brighten someone's day:

1. Be fully present to the person in front of you. Your full presence is a special gift. It can make someone feel like they really matter, that they are seen, or that they are not alone. Stopping, taking a deep breath, and really looking at someone, gently witnessing and sensing how they are feeling can be a quiet and gentle gift.

2. Help someone who appears to be lost or looking for something. If a person in your aisle in the supermarket seems lost, ask if you might be able to help them find something. If someone on the street looks like they need directions, stop and ask if you can help them find their way.

3. When a big moment is coming up in a loved one's life, proactively offer support.Is a a loved one going to a medical test? Offer to go with them. Is a close friend having an important interview? Ask if they would like to talk it through before they go.

4. When you greet someone or take leave, make it a habit to give them a hug (or a kiss if it is a close friend or loved one). The ritual of greeting and bidding adieu to someone with a loving gesture instills a spirit of love and good will.

5. Make it a habit to tell loved ones that you love them. Tracy Chapman wrote about how hard it often is to say "I love you," in her poignant song "Baby Can I Hold You Tonight." These words are often hard to say. And they may lead to a wish that we hear them in return. They are not said nearly enough to the ones we love. Speak your love abundantly.

6. Make time to listen.Sometimes a stranger needs a magical stranger who can just listen for a little while. They may be your neighbor on the cross trainer at the gym, or someone whose path you cross on the sidewalk. Or they might be your family member, friend or partner, who could really use a bit of your listening ear and heart.

7. Make a special effort to give loved ones the things they most need and want. Sometimes we react by pulling away when a loved one says they want or need something. In our culture "need" is often a "four-letter word." There is incredible power in freely and spaciously giving someone something they want or need, be it a foot rub, their favorite Thai take out, or even a special loving glance.

8. Adopt an attitude of "how can I help."If you walk around life with a "how can I help" framework, you will find yourself discovering many opportunities to offer small acts of kindness.

9. Learn your loved ones "love language."The ways we have learned to give love may not match up entirely with the way our friends and loved ones most feel loved. Whether it be a touch of your hand, gentle words, a thoughtful gift, special time or an act of service, any one of these actions can be felt as particularly loving when it translates to a loved one's "native" love language.

No comments:

Post a Comment