Tag kindness

Six Tips for Having a Thankful Thanksgiving

Ever feel like you didn’t get as much out of Thanksgiving as you wanted? Here are six tips to try to have a truly festive, uplifting and rejuvenating turkey day this year.

• Be mindful. The mindfulness movement blends the best of eastern traditions with western science. In short, it involves paying closer attention to the here and now. It’s remarkable how much doing so can promote peaceful feelings. For example, try eating your first few bites of each type of food slowly. Savor the nuances of the tastes. Try also smelling the food and enjoying its aroma. The same goes for beverages.

• Be calm. Try to create some moments when you breathe deeply into your stomach instead of your chest. At the same time try relax your muscles, settle into the furniture and take in what’s around you. Notice the details: the beauty of someone’s hair, the love you feel for someone, a wonderful smile.

• Be thankful. There are so many ways to do this. Write and deliver a gratitude letter. (This can also be done as a family exercise.) Encourage everyone to say something they are thankful for before digging in at mealtime. Let your Higher Power know about that which you are thankful. Try to linger in the glow of such thoughts.

• Be patient. Thanksgiving often produces stress on those responsible for aspects of the day, on relationships that are not peaceful, and on those who may be hurting going into the day. If irritations flare, try to not react in kind. Instead, try to appreciate the human condition explaining the irritation and be soft and gentle, even if it means turning the other cheek. (By the way the psychological wisdom behind the concept of turning the other cheek recently occurred to me. When one doesn’t turn the other cheek, the resulting activity consumes one’s life.)

• Be affirming. Proportionate and specific praise for things you believe can create uplifting moments for both you and the person you are affirming (i.e., instead of keeping such thoughts to yourself). I know when I’m the recipient of such, I try to create ways to remember the moment so that I can unpack it when I’m soul weary.

• Be kind. So often these days don’t go off as planned. Try to be a person who lets everyone know that that’s okay (including yourself) and even to be expected. Problems are like dust mites, they are woven into our existence. (I like the saying: “People make plans and God chuckles.”)  However, if I clench my fists at the heavens and protest why a problem is happening I now must suffer two kinds of pain: the pain imbued within the problem and the pain of my reaction to the problem. It’s remarkable how often kindness works, both towards oneself and towards others.

Manufacture Joy: Perform Acts of Kindness

This series of blog posts is reviewing what we parents can do to instill more happiness and meaning in our lives. This installment regards performing acts of kindness.

Pick a day of the week–your personal kindness day–and perform three acts of kindness. There are an endless number of possibilities. But, here are two dozen ideas to get you started:

• Leave extra money at a drive through for the person behind  you

• Donate to your local library

• Give blood

• Volunteer time at a local soup kitchen

• Donate clothes you don’t need

• Write a thank you note to the person or people who clean your office

• Send a warming e-card to someone who could use a pick-me-up (a sample free service is here)

• Write a letter of support to a soldier serving overseas (a sample way to do so is  here)

• Leave some money in a book, at a retail store, that regards helping a child with a chronic medical condition;  add a note stating “you’re not alone”

• Let someone who has a hurried look about him or her go ahead of you in a line

• Leave a few bucks at a gas pump with a note: “I’m lowering your price of gas today, a friend”

• Leave a larger than normal tip for some good service you received, with an affirming note

• Point out something someone did with excellence at a group office meeting

• Nominate a teacher for an award, copying the nomination to his or her principal and superintendent (for an example of one opportunity, and there are many, click here)

• Send a letter of thanks to a coach who did well by your child, citing specifics

• Sponsor a child whose family or circumstance is stressful (e.g., for example, click here)

• Volunteer or make a donation to your local animal shelter

• Buy some car wash coupons and stick them in a few random cars at the next sporting event your kid is playing at; attach a note stating “we parents can sometimes use a little support too sometimes.”

• Look for opportunities to put change in people’s meters (just make sure that such isn’t illegal where you are)

• Send a donation to an organization that helps kids with cancer (one such opportunity is here)

• Offer to round trip car pool some kids who are going to the same event you need to take your kid to.

• Offer your partner a foot massage

• Shovel a neighbor’s driveway

• Get up before your partner and make her or him a fresh cup of coffee

Research suggests that the helpers high is real. But, you can do your own research study with yourself by trying this practice. Good luck and, if you get a moment, I’d love hearing your kindness ideas.

A Happiness Ritual: Practice Acts of Kindness

Want a new ritual for 2011? Consider developing a kindness practice.  Those who develop such a practice have been found to experience multiple benefits:

√ Perceiving others in a more positive and empathic light.

√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).

• Give a cleaning person at your job or school a thank you gift for his or her service.

• 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.

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