Want a new ritual for 2011? Consider developing a kindness practice. Those who develop such a practice have been found to experience multiple benefits:
√Experiencing fewer negative thoughts.
√ Viewing oneself more favorably.
√ Establishing deeper social connections.
√ Experiencing a “helper’s high.”
One way to start a kindness practice to establish one day a week as your kindness day. This can be done as a family or individually. Here are some ideas to get you started:
• Leave extra money in the coffee line to pay for the person behind you.
• Shovel a neighbor’s driveway.
• Volunteer at a local soup kitchen.
• Hand write a thank you note.
• Send an e-card to lift someone’s spirits (e.g., www.123greetings.com).
• Let someone ahead of you in the line at the grocery store.
• Befriend and visit someone who lives in a nursing home.
• Befriend and support a child who is struggling financially (e.g., www.childrensinternational.com).
• Adopt a soldier as a pen pal (i.e., www.adoptaussoldier.org).
• Cut coupons and leave them on top of the related product at the grocery store.
• Put extra change in a vending machine that you use.
• Put a full load of coins in the meter before you leave your parking spot.
While there are just a few ideas listed here, there are many Internet resources available to support a kindness practice (e.g., www.helpothers.org, www.randomactsofkindness.org and www.daretobeanangel.com), as well as books (e.g., The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky and The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci). Finally, please see my previous blog entry on how to make and keep New Years Resolutions.
Good luck to you as you develop a kindness practice. Also, if you think of some creative ideas for practicing kindness please consider posting them here.