For 2014, I committed to starting some Healthy Habits. So far, they have all been about me (there’s an alcoholic for you!), I’ve started daily prayer, meditation, and yoga. But this month I am going to make my Healthy Habit about others. I am going to practice kindness, each and every day.
Each month we have a student recognition assembly at the college where I work. Besides giving out perfect attendance awards, and honor roll certificates, we have a short presentation on something that may be helpful to the students. Last month, the topic of the short presentation was kindness. A short video was shown about the power of kindness and how it benefits both the giver and the receiver. That really got me to thinking so I did a little bit of research about the science of being kind. I found that in addition to both of the parties involved in the acts of kindness, anyone that sees kindness in action also benefits. I read this in an article in Psychology Today:
I have a friend who used to live in Pakistan, where he was an animal rights activist. One day, he was walking through his home city when he saw a crowd gathered around the stall of a bird seller. A man had bought some myna birds – a popular caged bird in Pakistan, because of their ability to mimic sounds – and was releasing them. One by one, he took them out of the cage, and let them fly free. In all, he bought 32 of the birds, just to set them free.
My friend was amazed by this act of altruism, partly because – as he put it – ‘such acts of charity were not so common in my part of the world where people are not so kind to animals in general.’ But he was also amazed at his own reaction to the act. He was filled with a deep sense of peace. A strange quietness filled his surroundings, and he felt completely free of worry or anxiety. The sense of peace and joy remained with him for a few days, and, in his words, ‘I believe it is still there to some degree.’
Isn’t that awesome? A simple act of kindness, and everybody wins! It’s not just the man who bought the birds that gets to feel good for having done something kind, and it’s not just the birds that feel good flying free; everyone who was part of, or witness to the act, felt good. I want to experience that.
So, my commitment for the month of April is to take opportunities to perform acts of kindness each day. I’m not talking about just being nice to people, I think I already do that. And I’m not talking about just giving gifts or things of monetary value. I am talking about going out of my way to do something kind for someone every day. I have a few ideas (not a whole month’s worth, though), but I am confident that the ideas I have will breed more as the month goes on.
My plan is to keep track of my acts of kindness as I journal each day, and I will report back to you all at the end of the month.
Yoga Update: Well, I wish I could say that my Healthy Habit for March was as successful as the first two of the year, but so far it hasn’t been. I did well for the first couple of weeks, and I have to admit, I felt really great. It seemed like my posture improved, I felt strong and healthy. But then somewhere along the third week my yoga sessions became hit or miss. Then, for the last week, whenever I said that I was going to do yoga, I seemed to find something else that was more important to do right at the moment. Like sleep. Or fold laundry. Or read. Ugh.
So yoga has not yet become a habit for me. But I’m not giving up. I did my yoga DVD tonight, and I am going to keep trying!