Random Acts of Kindness

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“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”    – Henry James

Apparently today (February 17) is National Random Acts of Kindness Day… which begs the question “Do we really need a day to remind us to be kind to others? ”

Isn’t kindness an act of simple human decency – one that should come naturally … whenever, however, and to whomever?  It certainly should be.

I encourage you to read The Dalai Lama: A Policy of Kindness, by Sidney D. Piburn. It is a beautiful selection of vignettes written by and about His Holiness The Dalai Lama. You don’t have to be a Buddhist or even have any knowledge of Buddhism to read and appreciate this book.

Kindness begins at home and, as such,  our children’s treatment of others is – more often than not – a reflection of our own behavior.  There are some really good, age-appropriate books that teach children the importance of kindness. I’ve listed some of them below.

Ages 4 -6

  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee – by Philip Stead
  • Hey, Little Ant – by Philip and Hannah Hoose
  • How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? – by Jane Yolen
  • How Kind – by Mary Murphy
  • The Lion and the Mouse – by Jerry Pinkney
  • The Mine-O-Saur  –by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
  • Stone Soup – by Jon J. Muth
  • Stellaluna – by Janell Cannon
  • Toot & Puddle  – by Holly Hobbie

Ages 7-8

  • All Families Are Special – by Norma Simon
  • The Ant Bully – by John Nickle
  • Enemy Pie – by Derek Munson
  • Have You Filled a Bucket Today?  – by Carol McCloud
  • Horace and Morris But Mostly Dolores – by James Howe
  • The Giving Tree – by Shel Silverstein
  • The Golden Rule – by Ilene Cooper
  • Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler – by Margery Cuyler
  • Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed – by Emily Pearson
  • When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry – by Molly Bang
  • Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch – by Eileen Spinelli
  • The Story of Ruby Bridges – by Robert Coles

Ages 9 -11

  • Bluish – by Virginia Hamilton
  • Hanna’s Suitcase – by Karen Levine
  • Number the Stars – by Lois Lowry
  • Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together – by Herb Shoveller

Ages 12 +

  • Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories – by Dawn Metcalf
  • Freak the Mighty – by Rodman Philbrick
  • Mockingbird – by Kathryn Erskine
  • To Kill a Mockingbird – by Harper Lee

And there are so many more – for children and adults alike. Think of the wonderful conversations you can have with your children, while reading these books together!

One would hope that kindness is innate.  However, sometimes we may need a reminder.  In addition to books about kindness, look to some of the iconic men and women whose lives serve as an inspiration to all of us… like Mother Teresa, Pope Francis, The Dalai Lama and so many more.  Their life stories will ignite the kindness spark that lives within each of us.

So, make every day your “Random Acts of Kindness Day.” And while you’re at it, remember to be kind to yourself.

“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” Barbara de Angelis

 

 

Photo via flickr.

New Year’s Revelation No. 6 of 7: Respect Human Dignity… through Kindness

On Kindness:

The healing power of touch, through a simple hug. Spending the night listening to a troubled friend.  Offering to carry bags of groceries from the supermarket to the car, for someone you don’t even know.  Giving some wildflowers to an elderly stranger sitting on a park bench.  Feeding a hungry stray cat.  The opportunities to show kindness … are simply endless.

On Human Dignity:

To treat a person ― any person, every person ― with respect and human decency… this should be the standard, not the exception.

To help ease the suffering of another human being… is the most noble act of all.

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.
We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.’
Hungry not only for bread — but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing — but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks — but homeless because of rejection.”

Mother Teresa
Catholic Missionary, Nobel Peace Prize Recipient

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Photo via steveberger.gracechapel.net.

A tribute to the unsung heroes who help others

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“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”

Mother Teresa

They don’t have the power of money or celebrity to back them up.  Nor do they receive any payment or compensation for what they do.  Self-gratification is not their ulterior motive. 

They are simply ordinary people who do extraordinary things… to help others − for no other reason than love and respect for humanity.

These are the people who…

… save their leftover food from their restaurant meal, so they may give it to the person standing outside… that hungry person who’s seen better times but who, for one reason or another, finds himself down and out.

… volunteer their time to work in community outreach programs.

… make daily visits to elderly neighbors who live alone, just to make sure that they are okay and to give them a little caregiving and companionship.

… regularly help out at the food banks and missions.

… notice that an exhausted single mother, trying to do it all, may need  a little assistance with carpooling, babysitting, or a few ready-made meals that she can freeze and reheat later.

… sense that a friend may be going through hard times, and invite him/her over for dinner each week.

… teach their children kindness and empathy towards others.

The list is endless.

These are the people who, although not labeled as “activists”,  are quietly making a difference in the lives of others.

One person at a time.

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From Aug 14-Sept 7, purchase a copy of  Casualties of the (Recession) Depression, and for every $20 book purchased directly from my website, I will be donating $5 from the proceeds of each book sale to either: Feeding America (US), Action Against Hunger (Canada), or The World Food Programme (Global). The purchaser chooses one of the three.

Image (of hands) via mysuccessprinciples.com.

New Year’s Revelation No. 3 of 7: Resist the Mañana Syndrome

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“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it.  No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
~ Lord Chesterfield 

In theory, I completely concur with Lord Chesterfield.  In practice, however, I’ve been known to occasionally follow Scarlett O’Hara’s logic (from Gone with the Wind):  “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow …… After all, tomorrow is another day.” 

Putting things off until tomorrow — or, as I like to call it, The Mañana Syndrome …. has been a challenge for me throughout my life — not because I’m lazy, but because I always have so many concurrent projects and so many lists-upon-lists-upon-lists, that it becomes overwhelming sometimes.  And then I completely detach.  But, something changed for me last summer.  It wasn’t any specific event or drama.  I was just sitting at my computer, with Janis Joplin rasping in the background.  The song was Ball and Chain and the lyrics that spoke to me were:

“That’s what it is, man. If you got it today you don’t wear it tomorrow, man. ‘Cause you don’t need it. ‘Cause as a matter of fact, as we discovered on the train, tomorrow never happens, man. It’s all the same fxxxxxx day, man.”

And, right there and then, I thought to myself  “What if tomorrow never happens?”  I would not want to leave this world without having done the things I needed and wanted to do.  Now, I know that I’m taking the meaning of Janis’ lyrics out of context … but it just triggered something in my head.  So, then I thought “How can I complete what I need to complete?”   And the answers came to me in short staccato words and phrases:  You’re not Superwoman.  Be reasonable.  Prioritize.   Compartmentalize.  Streamline.  Keep it simple.  Stop writing lists.  Take a breath. 

Let’s be real, here.  This is not a Mensa puzzle.  I just needed to tweak my thinking and my process of multitasking.  And so I did. 

It worked. My book, Casualties of the Recession Depression, is written and currently in the editing phase.  The launch is set for the 26th of February, barring any glitches. And, I’ll soon pick up where I left off on my next book, When the Child Becomes the Parent. Everything is on track and on schedule. 

Yet, each day I make time to read a book while enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of my garden.

Speaking of thought processes, I’ll leave you with another very loosely related anecdote.  One evening, my husband and I were gazing up at the stars.  I asked him “What do you see when you look up in the sky?”  He looked at me quizzically and said “Well, there’s Orion’s Belt   ….”   He saw the starry sky in a structured, compartmentalized way.  I said, “When I look up, I see a sea of stars in an endless array of different sizes and formations …. too many to count, or even discern.  I just love to soak in the beauty of it all.”  And so I wondered whether the stark difference in the way we saw the night sky was a function of gender (i.e. ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’) or  was it simply that our personalities are such that he see things in black and white and I, in every shade of grey in between.

Which is why I tended  (note the past tense) to bite off more than I could chew. 

Lesson learned.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” 
Mother Teresa

Image via donnamoderna.com (Photo credit:  Inga Ivanova)

The real meaning of Thanksgiving

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”

Mother Teresa

On Thursday, millions of Americans (citizens and permanent residents alike)  — of all faiths — will gather with family and friends to give thanks for the blessings of life.   There is a lot to be thankful for.  And, to those of us who will be enjoying a bountiful Thanksgiving feast, we should bow our heads in sincere and humble gratitude. 

Not everyone will be as fortunate.  Missions, food banks, and shelters will be overwhelmed with people seeking a Thanksgiving meal.  They will rely on the kindness of strangers —  people like you and I,  who donate food and money to organizations that exist for no other reason than to feed the hungry in our respective communities.

“For it is in giving that we receive.”

—  St. Francis

So, as you fill up your pantries with festive food, please remember to keep some aside to share with those in need.  If you can, volunteer an hour or two of your time to serve meals at your local mission.  The staff could really use your help.  There are more hungry and homeless people this year than last year. 

And, if you know someone who is suffering financially or who will be all alone this Thanksgiving, why not set an extra place setting at your dinner table and extend some hospitality? A little humanity will go a long way. 

After all, isn’t that what Thanksgiving is about?

 Many seasonal blessings to you and yours, dear readers!

A Thanksgiving Prayer

In the spirit of humility we give thanks for all that is.
We thank the great spiritual beings who have shared their wisdom.
We thank our ancestors who brought us to where we are now.
We are grateful for the opportunity to walk this planet,
to breathe the air,
to taste the food,
to experience sensations of a human body/mind,
to share in this wonder that is life.
We are grateful for the natural world that supports us,
for the community of humankind that enables us to do many wonderous things.
We are grateful that we are conscious,
that as intelligent beings we can reflect upon the many gifts we have been given.

— Tom Barrett