Typically, I’ve waited until either mid-year or the end of the year to share the new mindfulness practices I’ve taken up at the start of the new year, but I thought I’d share this one fresh out of the gate.
Inspired by an idea on the RandomActsOfKindness.org website, one of the new mindfulness exercises I’ve embarked upon for 2019 (as I like to enfold 2-3 new practices at the start of each year to help keep my practice fresh) is 52-Weeks of Thank You’s. I penned my third one this morning.
At first, I thought 52-Weeks of Thank You’s was synonymous with 52-Weeks of Gratitude but then as I thought more about it, I started wondering if maybe they were slightly different.
Saying: “I’m grateful for _____” is not the same as saying: “Thank you for ______.” There’s an energetic difference. One focuses on the self, as in: I am grateful for such and such, whereas the latter focuses on the other person, as in: Thank you for such and such.
As I was interested in focusing on the person I would be sending the note to, I decided to stick with calling it 52-Weeks of Thank You’s.
Prior to embarking upon this new practice, I wrote out the full list of names to send thank you’s to through the whole of 2019. Before I got into the swing of it, I had trouble coming up with who I would send thank you’s to. But once I got rolling and into the spirit of it, I wound up easily coming up with 52 names and then I ended with being disappointed that I had run out of weeks and had way more people to include. And not only did I include individual friends and family members but I also added a handful of organizations and local businesses. Another criteria I’ve set for myself is that each thank you note will be sent old school, via the U.S postal service. While sending email thank you’s would be far less time consuming and resource intensive, there’s something important that gets conveyed when someone takes the time to handwrite a card/letter/note and send it.
I made these labels to attach to each thank you note:
3 down – 49 to go! :)
From the RAK website:
TO CELEBRATE RAK WEEK 2018, we invite you to tell us about that one person who inspires you to be a better human being!
Was it a teacher who saw something in you when no one else did?
Is it a neighbor who mowed your lawn when you were sick?
What about a family member who always encouraged you to do your best?
Maybe it was your friend who comforted you during a difficult time in your life?
We all have someone who has gone above and beyond to show us kindness; someone who shifts our perspective, helps us through painful moments or inspires us to be kinder in our daily lives.
Snap a photo of that ‘one’ person and share their story with us (and the world).
Click here to share your person: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/rak-week
Inspired by this RAK prompt, I thought I’d mention a few acts of kindness that I experienced recently, which are fresh in my mind and on my heart:
Random Acts of Kindness Week: February 12th-18th
Let’s get our kindness on! :) I’ve been enjoying making these, in preparation to help celebrate RAK Week:
Front of the cards – with the ones I’ve yet to draw on pictured at the top
Back of the cards
Last September my friend Jennifer and I started collecting change in order to do something fun with it together. After some deliberation we decided to put our funds towards buying local flowers and passing them out for free to people as a random act of kindness (RAK). Between the two of us we collected about $90 in coins over the last year. My stepson Jaden joined us too and we had a three-man Random Acts of Kindness Brigade and set out yesterday at our local Farmer’s Market downtown. We had a great time!
We had some unexpected results as well in performing our RAK. I realized after our first round of buying flowers and handing them out to passers by that I was shying away from offering them to men. So when we stocked up with our 2nd armful of flowers to pass out I was set on targeting men to give them to. I saw a man sitting at a booth selling his art work and I went and offered him a bouquet. He gratefully accepted and then invited me to take one of his wonderful pictures (as seen in the above photo). A kindness in turn!
We also walked by a Downtown Ambassador who worked for the city and had a mobile cart with free info about Missoula, maps, bus schedules, and that sort of thing. He saw our signs and decided to give us a few free carousel ride tickets, which Jaden then passed out to a few kids on the street.
This week, February 11-17th, is Random Acts of Kindness Week. And while of course we don’t need a reason or a special week to perform small random acts of kindness and would certainly benefit from practicing regularly throughout the year, having a few days set aside with this intention can be a wonderful community motivation towards taking better care of one another and widening our sometimes, maybe usually, self-involved state of mind.
When we take care of others we are also taking care of ourselves and when we take care of ourselves we are also taking care of others. This is the heart of the teaching on interbeing. We are all connected. To say that we are separate from someone is not entirely correct and along those same lines to say that we are the same is also equally incorrect. We are both the same and different in many beautiful ways. When we get in touch with our connectedness as a human community we are also getting in touch with our own true nature.
It is easy to think that small acts cannot possibly add up to much and that it takes grand gestures to affect change. Just like a bucket sitting out in a drizzle gets filled up to its brim one drop at a time our seemingly small acts of kindness are not only extremely significant they ripple out much further then we might think. Please do not underestimate your impact on those around you and your environment. One smile can be like the sun shining through a thick gray sky, offer them freely and often.
The more we practice anything the more we keep practicing. Let us practice kindness to ourselves and others everyday so as to cultivate understanding and compassion from deep within us. Yes, that’s right, I also put ourselves into the mix! Every practice we do starts with us. Often the most challenging person to offer kindness and care to is ourselves so please remember to practice with that person too!
After some rooting around online here are some ideas I found to start our week off with, and I added some of my own too:
- Send someone a hand written note of thanks.
- Make a card at home and send it to a friend for no reason.
- Buy a lottery ticket for a stranger.
- Put some coins in someone else’s parking meter.
- Buy a coffee for the man on the high street selling The Big Issue magazine.
- Cut your neighbour’s hedge.
- Walk your friend’s dog.
- Give a compliment about your waiter / waitress to his / her manager.
- Send someone a small gift anonymously.
- Stop and help someone replace their flat tire.
- Let someone jump the queue at the bank.
- Pay for the drinks on the next table at a café.
- Treat a friend to the movies for no reason.
- Give a huge tip to someone when they least expect it.
- Hold the train door open for someone rushing to get in.
- Give up your seat for someone, not just an elderly person.
- Write notes of appreciation at least once a week.
- Talk to a homeless person and have a “normal” conversation.
- Pick up some rubbish in the road which would otherwise be lying around.
- Compliment a work colleague for their excellence.
- Recommend a competitor to a potential client.
- Give another driver your parking spot.
- Give a piece of fruit to a delivery person.
- Help an elderly neighbour carry the rubbish out.
- Tell all your family members how much your appreciate them.
- Leave a copy of an interesting book on a train / bus.
- Buy an inspirational book for a friend.
- Send a thank you note to a person who has helped you in the past.
- Smile a lot.
- Pay for someone’s coffee at a coffee bar.
- Donate used books to a children’s shelter.
- Return a shopping cart.
- Buy a flower for someone you don’t know.
- Visit an animal shelter.
- Be kind to someone you dislike.
- Give out candy :)
- Thank your mail carrier.
- Shovel snow for a neighbor.
- Bake a cake for a neighbor.
- Do something to water your own seeds of joy.
- Practice deep listening.
- Collect food for your local food bank.
- Put a sign up in the back window of your car with a smiley face or other nice message.
- Remember to be kind to mother earth as well: use your own shopping bags at the grocery store.
- Give a treasured item you own away.