I believe that we can improve everything in our lives, free our hearts and even change the world by adopting two simple practices on a daily basis.
I see these two practices as akin to breathing. We take a deep, settling breath in and then we give the energy back to the world with a kind, releasing breath.
We breathe in and practice gratitude.
We breathe out and practice acts of kindness.
What I find so heartening about these two practices is how immediate the transformation can be. By the second day, we become aware of a growing sense of graceful acceptance combined with moments where our heart overflows with joy and love.
The order of the two practices is not important as they feed each other.
Gratitude prepares us. It is nourishment for our soul. In a world where everyone is trying to take what others have, gratitude shifts us to a place of love and wonder. It is preparation for the fertility of what will come. Just as we add fertilizer to soil to help our plants grow, so gratitude is to our lives. It changes how we perceive the world. Gratitude is about being open and grateful to what is being given vs. closed and stressed about a predetermined and desired outcome.
Acts of kindness jolt our hearts awake. These small kindnesses jump-start our loving nature and bring true giving back into our lives. To live through acts of kindness is to recognize the millions of souls around us that are searching for the very same thing we are – love and acceptance.
Something magical happens when we give to others the kindness we yearn for.
And if we have prepared the soil that is our lives with gratitude, something magical begins to grow. Something that is so much more fulfilling and powerful than any job or task. It is an addiction to being alive and being willing and able to reach out and touch the souls of those we walk this earth with.
BREAKING DOWN GRATITUDE
Many people recommend a gratitude journal. I think this is a great idea. It is important that you take time to be grateful every day.
It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It’s lovely and wonderful to be grateful for the small things. A glass of water on a hot day. A place to sleep. An act of kindness from a stranger or friend.
I used to worry about money every minute of every day. We never had enough. And then I started practicing gratitude. I made a point to stop and whisper some words of gratitude every time a client agreed to come on board or a check arrived or I found myself creating an invoice.
That’s not to say I was only grateful for money. I made sure to pause and give thanks for all the gifts in my life. My partner. My dog and cat. My morning walks.
The result? I stopped stressing about money and my money issues became far less pronounced. I began to see the opportunities around me that had been hidden by my panic and confusion.
BREAKING DOWN ACTS OF KINDNESS
As children, our hearts are open to the world. We haven’t become limited by the titles that seem to consume us as adults. As a result, we are able to show love and kindness to the souls around us, even those that aren’t in our tribe.
Then we grow up and we become an “adult”. We learn divisiveness. We learn prejudice. We are told that it is “proper” to sacrifice our hearts so as to become “responsible members of society.”
All of this can be unlearned. Acts of true kindness break these molds and help us to see reality through clearer lenses.
These acts don’t have to be giant or world altering. Some days I just share something for someone on Twitter or Facebook with a kind note. Today I answered a call I might not have. And then I took a few moments to help a person out with advice on how to solve a problem they were having.
Some days I sit down with a beggar on the street and just recognize them as a person. In a world where so many won’t even look at them, you’d be amazed how powerful a kind word or touch can be.
Research has shown that a single act of kindness will be propagated three degrees. That means that someone who experiences it, or even just sees the act, is likely to go and perform their own act of kindness. And then they infect another person with the courage to perform a random act of kindness. It goes four people deep.
A single act of kindness can trigger an epidemic of kindness that can spread across a social network at unbelievable speeds.
This is how a single act of kindness can change the world. And new research suggests that it might also improve our health!
I am the king of hermits. I attend no gatherings. I hide from the world on most days. So you won’t find me at some giant social event, but you will see me having more heartfelt conversations with people. And practicing acts of kindness every day.
I hope you will join me.