Thursday, 3 January 2013
"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart. " ~ Winnie the Pooh
I was recently inspired by a tragedy. Yes, something purely awful and heartbreaking turned into something inspirational. I am speaking about the tragedy at Sandyhook Elementary School in the United States.
There is so much sadness and despair in the world. Suffering is just part of the human condition. But suffering can bind us, humankind, together. It can make us stronger if we choose to let it and it can teach us lessons.
I won't get into the political debate about gun control (for the record, I think guns should be banned, but that's just me, a bleeding heart liberal) or about the role that mental illness may or may not have played in this tragedy. I'll save that for another post. Today I want to focus on the positive.
Great tragedy can bring about great things. The journalist, Ann Curry, began a tidal wave of positive energy with a simple idea: #26acts. Her idea was that for each child lost, a kind act should be done in his or her honour. Twenty six lost souls. Twenty six acts of kindness.
Revolutionary? No. Simple? Yes.
If you follow Ms. Curry on Twitter or enter the hashtag #26acts you will have seen the enormous response that she received to her idea. People were plugging parking metres, paying for the person behind them in the drive through, and donating toys for the holiday season in honour of the Sandyhook children - all selfless acts for complete strangers for the most part.
She had one small idea and a wish to make the world a bit better. Did it cost her anything? No - she simply put her idea out there and shared it with all of us. Did she make the world a bit better? I think so, yes.
My goal with this blog has always been to provide comfort, spark dialogue, and create understanding about mental health and wellness. It's been a year since I first began writing and I have been inspired by the kind words and encouragement that I have received from you. Thank you! It keeps me going in good times and in bad. The power of a positive word or gesture should not be underestimated. Ever.
It's a new year, both according to the calendar and for this blog. It's a time for me to move forward to the next phase in my life and to set new goals. No, not resolutions but small targets to hit and dreams in which to aspire.
In the spirit of Ann Curry's #26acts I would like to introduce a challenge called "52 Acts" - 52 Weeks of Kindness. So, what exactly is this? It's all about focusing on kindness and positivity that is out there in the world and creating more.
What do I mean by "kindness", specifically? The kindness can be as simple as paying a compliment or bringing some homemade cookies to share with your colleagues at work. It can also be a kindness that you pay yourself. For example, are you normally hard on yourself when you make a mistake? Do you berate yourself when you miss a workout or eat too much at dinner? Maybe you need to treat yourself to a cup of tea in your favourite teacup. Or perhaps a massage after a rough few weeks at work.
Each time you commit an act of kindness, record it. It could be one for each week or more - that's up to you. You can write it in a journal, create an Excel spreadsheet, or do what I plan to do - take a big glass jar, write down each act on a small piece of paper, fold it in half, and then place the paper in the jar. It'll be a growing visual reminder of all the good things there are in this world and in your world.
Over the next year I'll check in with you to share my progress and I really, really hope that you'll share yours, too.
I want you (and me!) to live a life of mindful kindness and positivity in 2013. Sometimes the best ideas are the most simple ones: do something nice for someone and they feel good. Guess what? I bet you will, too.
P.S. Here is a quick and inspiring visual reminder that the world has a lot of good in it - enjoy!
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