Friday, April 24, 2009

Time Warp Project: Do an Act of Kindness Today!

People with the best intentions sometimes get overwhelmed by the idea of charity. They think they need a great deal of time or money or courage to make a real difference in the world.

Anne Herbert said, "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty;” by doing this, you can help every day with small but important acts of encouragement and generosity.

Share with us about your goals and experience in doing acts of kindness toward others. We would love to hear from you!

Ways that you can show acts of kindness:

1- Write a letter to a stranger.It only takes a few minutes to write, but a letter can make someone else's day, or even their week. Think of all the people who are lonely, isolated or just in need of cheering up: soldiers fighting overseas, kids in juvenile detention centers or elderly people in nursing homes. Do a simple search online and you'll find services that will provide you with list of people who'd love to hear from you.

2- Put someone else first. If you get to the grocery store check-out line at the same time as someone else, you can decide to smile and wave them through first. Or, when you're stuck in traffic and the last thing you want to do is let a car get in front of you, just remember that somebody else had to let you in, and repay the favor to the next person!

3- Say thank you. Think of all the people in your life whose faces and names you'll never know but who serve and protect you day after day. Send some prepackaged treats to your local police or fire department with a card letting them know how much you appreciate their service to the community. (Since homemade desserts could be contaminated, they will probably not be eaten.)

4- Compliment someone. There's usually an awkward silence when you're stuck in an elevator with a stranger. Instead of staring at the floor, find something you like about the other person and compliment him/her on it. Not only will it make him/her feel good, it just might kick off a conversation with a new friend.

5- Offer helping hands. Do you ever see homeless people and feel overwhelmed by your inability to make a difference? Even if you can't save them all, you can do a lot with one small act. Buy a pair of gloves or dig up an old blanket, and give them to someone who's living in the cold streets or to any organization that serves the homeless.

6- Clean up. The next time you see someone littering, don't just shake your head and look the other way. Pick up the litter and throw it away, and while you're at it, look around the street for any other trash that needs to be removed. If you take a walk, take a plastic grocery bag so you can collect the trash that would otherwise just make you unhappy, and know that you're doing a random act of kindness for the people who will come through after you!

7- Cheer someone up. Maybe you know someone who's had a horrible day. Send them some flowers or give them a warm hug to make them feel better. Everyone needs just a little extra love sometimes.

8- Send a message. Write down your favorite poem on happiness or jot down some thoughts on hope, then leave it somewhere for a stranger to find. Or try the most random method of all: Put a message in a bottle and toss it into the ocean. You never know who will receive it - or how much they might need it.

9- Forgive somebody. You'd be amazed at the ripple effect an ounce of forgiveness can have in your life and in the lives of others.

10- Share a smile. When meeting a new person, or even chatting with an old one, express joy. Show that you're happy to be with them, and that they make you happy.

11- Pay it Forward. The world can seem like an unfriendly, threatening place, yet we all want safety, health, and happiness for ourselves and our loved ones. How can one ordinary person -- you or me -- make a positive difference in this world? One way is the practice "paying it forward." While the steps might be simple, the outcome could change the world.

* Be attentive wherever you are for opportunities to help someone. Perhaps you have an elderly or disabled neighbor who is too proud to ask for help with their yardwork or maybe you're in a restaurant and see someone who looks like they could use some kind stranger to pay for their meal. You can change people's attitudes about the world through your unobtrusive acts of kindness.

* Spread the word. If the person thanks you and wants to "repay" you (that is, pay it "back"), let them know that what you'd really like is for them to pay it "forward" -- you'd like them to do something nice for three people they don't know, and ask those three people to do something nice for three more people. The idea is to consciously increase the goodness of the world.

* Pay it forward. When you notice that somebody has done something nice for you, make a note in your mind to practice three acts of kindness towards other people, as described in Step 2.

Do you want to participate in the "Pay It Forward" movement? You may visit the Pay it Forward Foundation for more information: Pay It Forward Foundation

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