In light of the events over the past month, I imagine many of you wake up wondering, “What is this world coming to?” I know I do. It would be so easy to just crawl under the covers with a good book and a powerful flashlight, and wait until the world gets better. But then, I’ve never been one to just wait around for things to change. I think we each have a responsibility to make the change we want to see in the world – even if we can only make it one small step at a time.
I’d like to suggest that, during this season of thanking and giving, we start the change by committing to a random act of kindness every day. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be a kind word, a smile, opening a door, helping someone across the street.
“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” – Bob Kerrey
As much as it’s about the kind things you do and say, it’s about NOT doing and saying the unkind things that may sometimes fight to be heard. The rant against someone who thinks differently than you; the angry email to a co-worker who let you down; the horn or (admit it) hand gesture in response to a careless driver; the snarky, anonymous comment on an online article. Pack those away in a “venting box” in favor of a kinder world.
Tomorrow, instead of waking up wondering what the world is coming to, wake up and ask yourself, “How can I be kinder today?” Then commit to looking for opportunities to show someone you care. Here are some ideas.
• Do a chore or run an errand for an elderly neighbor.
• Let people merge in front of you – even when they’re rude about it.
• Call your Mom.
• Say “please” and “thank you.” Always.
• Volunteer at a food kitchen.
• Smile and say “hello” to everyone you pass on the street.
• Buy breakfast or lunch for a homeless person.
• Donate to a food bank.
• Give a blanket or some warm clothes to those in need.
• Help a stranger.
You probably will find lots of opportunities, big and small, this season to be kind. I’d love to hear about your random acts of kindness and how they made you feel.
“Never believe that a few caring people cannot change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead
Till next time,
Last month I attended the Phoenix Society’s World Burn Congress in Indianapolis, Indiana. The World Burn Congress is an annual, international conference that brings together burn survivors, their families, caregivers, burn care professionals, and firefighters to offer support, increase knowledge around burn recovery, and share inspiring stories. I’ve been involved with the Phoenix Society for many years, and was recently elected Vice President of their Board.
I have to tell you that attending this congress is a humbling experience. Although I am a burn survivor myself – at age 2, I received second and third degree burns as the result of scalding bathroom tap water – I am continually amazed at the strength, resilience, and inspiration that abound in the midst of the 900 or so people who attend this event. And I am so thankful to be part of a community that looks at people from the inside out – that values the essence of the individual, and that focuses on kindness and acceptance, rather than judgment. It seems so simple, and yet if we look at the interactions around us every day – from cranky people at work to mudslinging on the campaign trail – it’s a rarity indeed.
While the World Burn Congress is at times an emotional roller coaster - the stories are both sad, and inspiring – what I came away with most was inspiration and hope. Despite what these survivors and their families have been through, many of them have learned to find joy. They have found many reasons to be thankful.
Which brings me to my purpose with this blog. In this season of thanksgiving, I encourage you to take a step back and think about what - or who - brings you joy. Who are the people in your life that have supported you, inspired you, encouraged you, or done things for you? Make the time, and create an opportunity to say “thank you.” Write them a note or give them a call. Be specific about how they’ve impacted your life, or what the gift of their time, their encouragement, their kind words, no matter how small, meant to you.
This past weekend I ran with other burn survivors on Team Phoenix in the Big Sur Half Marathon. Together we raised nearly $6,000 to support the Phoenix Society’s work. Our way of saying “thank you” to an organization that has helped us and so many others.
How will you say “thank you” this year?
“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” – Aesop
Till next time,