Let me start by admitting that I am as lost as anyone after this “dumpster fire” of a year. I’ve often pictured Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz in the tornado funnel watching fragments of what-used-to-be swirl about, or Anne Frank, huddled in the attic with her family, hiding to save their lives.
This year has been both humbling and rage-producing. Facing the Goliath-sized failures that have lost countless lives and livelihoods, it’s easy to feel vulnerable and numb. This has been going on for ten months, and still the virus rages.
Christmastime has been cancelled. Symbolically, like in a Hollywood script, the light returns at year’s end along with a vaccine! Months will go by before we can all get vaccinated. How do we cope with months more of quarantined life?
Enter kindness. One of the best things that can happen when humans face a huge calamity is they tend to show kindness towards each other. The idea that “we are all in this together,” brings out a sense of community and cooperation that exemplifies our highest angels.
There are volumes of articles in the news describing various avenues people have created to express kindness. Letter writing, for example, is experiencing a revival. People are writing to strangers, to the elderly in nursing homes. They are sending thank you notes to essential workers- letter carriers, healthcare workers and frontline responders. They are reaching out to friends and family with pen on paper, reconnecting with old classmates and folks they have lost touch with.
Donating to charity and volunteering are some other ways to feel connected and purposeful. It is remarkable to note that giving to others, whether with time or money, can actually be beneficial to one’s health. As the slogan goes, if you want to feel better about yourself, do something nice for someone else. We actually do get from giving both in terms of mental and physical benefits. There is a happiness component. Laurie Santos, host of The Happiness Lab podcast and originator of The Science of Well Being, explains, “There’s evidence that money spent on another person makes us happier than money spent on ourselves.”
So here’s a holiday challenge, why not become someone’s Secret Santa? Find a way to brighten someone else’s day. Leave an extra large tip, pick up the phone and call a friend, help someone with an overburdened bundle, shovel the neighbors walkway, donate to a food bank, ask a sales clerk: “How’s your day going?” Then notice how their faces immediately brighten. Listening to people is also a kind deed.
Being kind is a practice. Awkward feelings will dissolve after a short while. Soon it will become second nature. Kindness is a win-win exchange. You will enjoy feeling good while doing good.
Please take a moment to look over the suggestions listed in InspireKindness.com. (link below) But first, be kind to yourself. Charity begin at home, and that means- you. Lower your expectations and be patient with yourself. Your world is topsy turvy. “Then intentionally find joy and be grateful for all that you have. Have faith that we will get through this. And then pass it on, because faith and joy are just as contagious as fear and panic.”- Katherine Good, Inspire Kindness.
While you ponder New Year’s resolutions, how about this one:
“Throw kindness around like confetti.”
Let’s make kindness the foundation for the New Normal.
Wishing you, all my dear Readers, good health and endurance.
Yours in kindness,
Laurie Santos’ course: The Science of Well Being is the most popular class taught at Yale. I read about it in The Week 4 years ago. It studies happiness, and focuses on ways one can become happier and more creative. Last month, I discovered that this 10 week course is being offered online for free!!! (Yes, it is free. You don’t need a certificate unless you want one.) If you have an interest in becoming happier, please click this link below, then click: Go To Course-