The other day, my friend Lisa posted a comment on my post Volunteering as a Path to Greater Happiness.
Here’s how it reads:
I’ve learned a lot from your blog, and one thing I learned was that making changes doesn’t have to be time consuming. In your marriage month, one of your resolutions was to greet your husband with a big hug after work. This means a lot, but doesn’t really add more to your to-do list, right? Maybe, at this busy point in both of our lives, with young children at home, volunteering can be approached with the same attitude. What kind of volunteering can you do that doesn’t add more to your already busy day? I’m writing this comment as much to focus myself on this task as to give you new ideas. I’m thinking of very small, random acts of kindness to friends and neighbors, instead of cooking a whole meal for someone or teaching Sunday school.
I thought this was an awesome plan. And I loved reading the perspective of someone outside of my brain writing about my project. I mean, I’d never made the connection that the things that were working for me were all fairly simple, but I absolutely agree with her.
A very recent example: I began a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class this past Monday. I didn’t enjoy the class, but I will be continuing with it for the full eight weeks, provided we’re still here for the whole thing (more on the dislike-but-sticking-with-it decision in a later post). It did, however, jump-start me back into the habit of mindfulness. All week I’ve felt more clarity and confidence, and I’ve been much less judgmental of myself and others. This isn’t really a surprise given my positive results from Mindfulness Month. What’s surprising is that I forgot about the enormous payoff from something as simple as awareness without judgment.
So, I’m going to revise my resolutions a tad. I’m going to leave the one to participate in two one-time volunteer projects, but I’m going to increase the odds of improving my happiness and getting myself into a “service” frame of mind by adding a “random acts of kindness” resolution.
My friend Zoie did this as part of Code Name: Mama’s March of Kindness this spring. you can read about her experiences with the March of Kindness at her blog, TouchstoneZ.
Effective immediately, my plan is simply to spend each day on the lookout for small things to do to help other people around me, be they friends or strangers—or even family. I realize I do a lot of kind things for my family, but those kindnesses are not often random. They’re more in the “basic upkeep” category and too often I feel resentful while I’m doing them, which I think defies the spirit of the resolution. The shift I hope to see is towards care and kindness rather than responsibility and resentment.
I’ll let you know in a few days how this change is going.
4 Replies to “Getting Random with my Resolutions”
Thank you again for a mention. That month of RAOK really did change my life. It’s not that I necessarily did more. It was (and remains) that I chose to open myself to the possibility of giving a kindness. It could be big or small to me. It wasn’t important. The simple act of being on the look out for them made me more present, mindful and peaceful both looking inward and outward.
Mmm…that sounds lovely. That’s just what I hope for my RAOK resolution. Now to really put into practice the focusing on process rather than product…
last night the lady in front of me came up short on cash, to save her a trip to the car to get her debit card, I paid the difference, she was shocked. . . . as she finished up her transaction she told me that her 23 year old daughter had just passed away and that any act of kindness meant so much to her. . . . talk about a humbling experience. . . you never know WHO you will touch or what their circumstance, if you look for opportunities (and usually I’m the one rolling my eyes and wishing someone would hurry up because my kids are being insane and I just want to get on with my life already). . . . I think this is a good resolution!
I love this anecdote, Timbra. I’m actually really looking forward to this resolution…I think it’s going to be fun!