reader request : is forgiving a skill or a choice?

Forgiveness

 

Note: The following article is based on a request from a reader. If there's a topic you'd like me to write about, feel free to email me here, leave a message in the comments, or reach out to my via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram.

 

A few weeks back, I received a request from a reader asking me to write about whether I think forgiveness is a skill or a choice. It was perfect timing for me to receive this request because I happened to be struggling to wrap my head around the topic of forgiveness myself. Someone had hurt me quite unexpectedly, and the pain was making it difficult for me to let go of negative feelings and actually forgive. So, when I received this request in my in-box, I couldn't believe the timing. It was just the topic I needed to be thinking about, and the more I pondered the question, the more I realized: forgiveness is both a choice and a skill. 

In order to forgive, you have to actively choose it. (Which can be hard, I know!) And to become good a forgiveness you have to practice it, the way you would any other skill. If you're lucky, you won't have a lot of opportunities to practice, but most of us do encounter quite a few situations in which we can practice forgiving others. Whether it's forgiving someone who has cut you off in traffic or forgiving someone who has caused your heart to break, opportunities for choosing forgiveness are likely to crop up often. 

For some, forgiveness comes easily. They're all too happy to let go of the ways others have hurt them -- and this is a great skill to possess. For others (ahem, most of us), forgiveness is tricky. It's hard, sometimes, not to let being hurt or offended impact the way you think about and interact with others. It's hard not to let these pains (both big and small) influence your own mindset. But, as I've written about before, forgiveness is freedom. The more easily you forgive others, the more positive your life will be. (Keep in mind that forgiving others isn't the same as condoning their behavior. You can forgive while still believing the other person is wrong. You can forgive someone you never want to speak to again.) 

Though forgiveness is one of the surest paths to emotional freedom, it's often a difficult trek to make, which is why it requires both the act of choosing to forgive and the art of mastering forgiveness as a skill. Both of these can be challenging, the the skill part can be extra tricky. Saying you're going to choose to forgive is one thing -- actually putting it into practice is something else entirely. 

I believe there are four considerations when it comes to practicing forgiveness, and I'll outline them in a bit more detail below. Understanding and considering these four things can make practicing forgiveness a lot easier.  

 

  1. CONSIDER WHAT UPSET YOU. 

    First and foremost, it's important to consider what actually upset you. Focus on why exactly you're hurt. Try your best not to bring in anything else into this consideration. For example, if you're angry about something your partner did, focus only on that specific incident (not on all the times s/he has upset you). Don't bring in past grudges or your own personal baggage (e.g., the way that your last partner did the same anger-inducing thing). Narrowing in on exactly what has hurt you will allow you to assess why exactly you're hurting, if there's anything the other person can do to right the wrong, and will give you information you might need for avoiding similar situations in the future. 


  2. CONSIDER THE OTHER PERSON. 

    After considering the specifics of the situation, it's time to turn your focus to the person (or people) who has hurt you. Try, as best you can, to put yourself in his/her shoes. Is it possible that the pain caused was unintentional? Is it possible that the other person might believe he/she is doing the right thing or making the situation better in some way? Is there a chance that someone else might be trying to help you? Or that s/he might be dealing with his/her own pain? Sometimes the answers these questions will be no (and that's okay), but quite often we'll find that someone else isn't intentionally trying to hurt us, which can make it easier to forgive them. 


  3. CONSIDER YOUR OWN POSITION. 

    Once you've closely looked at the situation and the person who has hurt you, it's time to turn your gaze inward and consider where you're coming from. Why are you so hurt by this situation? Is it really about this or is something else impacting how you feel? (For example, let's say you're upset with your spouse for not following through but you're doubly irritated at him/her because you just had a really bad day at work.) This is not to say that someone else's actions are your fault, but it's merely an encouragement to look at where you're coming from. What's happened in the past that's impacting how you feel now? What's going on in the present that might be influencing the situation? These facts are not meant to condone another's behavior, but to help you see the bigger picture and how interconnected everything is. 


  4. CONSIDER THE FUTURE. 

    After taking the situation, others, and yourself into consideration, now it's time to consider what is going to make this situation better for you (and for others). Will holding on to anger and unhappiness make your world a better place? Will clinging to the past improve your present and future? The answer to these questions is definitely no. No matter what the situation, holding on to anger, disgust, or any other unpleasant feelings will not make your world a better place. It will only hurt your heart more and make it more difficult for you to live a positive, present life. Even if someone has treated you terribly, forgiving them will only help you. Choosing not to forgive will only continue to cause you pain in the future (and who wants that?!). 

 

These four considerations can really aid in the art of forgiveness. However, like developing any skill, mastering forgiveness takes time and effort. Don't give up on it, even when it's hard. Believe me, I know from experience that forgiving is always better than holding on to a grudge. It may seem nearly impossible to forgive, especially if someone has hurt you (or someone you love) deeply, but the more you practice forgiveness, the more freedom you'll experience. And remember: the act of forgiving is something that frees you, not the person who hurt you. You have everything to gain by forgiving and nothing to lose.  

 

Loving-Your-Self

Forgiving others (and yourself!) is an amazing act of self-love. Want to empower yourself with some more serious self-love and acceptance? Start loving yourself (or increase the love you already have for yourself!) with the inspiration and motivation found in Loving Your Self: An Empowering Workbook for Increasing Self-LoveFilled with uplifting encouragement, thought-provoking questions, and engaging exercises, Loving Your Self is an essential tool for mastering the art of self-love. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.


how to find the good in yourself

Give-Yourself-Love

 

Today's post is part of Find the Good February, a month dedicated to finding the good in your life (and in yourself!). Each week features a unique theme, and this week's theme is SELF. 

 

Self-love is absolutely vital for living a positive, present life. It is the foundation for all of your relationships (and relationships are a big part of life!), which is why it's so important to pay attention to, and cultivate a good relationship with, yourself. Self-love it's about adoring every single aspect of yourself. We all have things we'd like to change -- and that's a good thing. If we didn't want to change anything, we'd be living pretty stagnant, boring lives. That being said, self-love is about focusing on the good things about yourself. It's about turning your attention to your strong traits more often than not and cultivating an acceptance for the things you don't particularly enjoy about yourself. 

As you probably know, this is much easier said than done. We all, to some degree, struggle with loving ourselves. There's a lot of pressure (particularly with the rise of social media) to be perfect, to appear as if you have it together all the time. (News flash: no one has it together all the time -- not even in the picture-perfect celebrities we see on the covers of beautifully glossy magazines.) But, as hard as it can be sometimes, self-love is so, so important. Here are some of the best ways to find the good in yourself: 

 

THINK DIFFERENTLY. 

Unfortunately, it's sometimes easier to be hard on yourself than it is to lift yourself up, but if you want to love yourself, you have to change your mindset. You have to believe that you're worthy of love, and you have to actively seek out good things about who you are. Changing the way you think about yourself is the first (and most essential!) step to finding the good in yourself. 

APPRECIATE THE PAST. 

One of the hardest parts of self-love is not beating yourself up for things you've done, said, been in the past. We all have things we're not super proud of, but clinging to these things can get in the way of finding the good in the present moment. If you struggle to embrace your past, remember this: everything that happened in the past made you the person you am today. That, in itself, is a reason to appreciate it. 

GIVE IN TO YOUR DESIRES. 

Of course, not every desire should be indulged, but, when it comes to finding the good in yourself, it's important to treat yourself to the things in life that make you happy. Consider what inspires you, delights you, or fills you with excitement. These are the things you love, and recognizing these can give you insight into who you are -- and show you what you deserve to indulge in. 

SET YOUR GUILT FREE. 

We all make mistakes -- that's a part of life. Looking at them (and overanalyzing them) can really make you cringe, so why dabble in that negativity? Instead, recognize what you've done wrong, resolve to change your behavior in the future, and move forward with the knowledge that you are a self-aware and thoughtful person. Guilt is a huge waste of time, and the less of it you have in your life, the more self-love you'll cultivate. (Another way to avoid guilt: ask yourself before you do something you're unsure about, "Will I feel guilty about this later?")

DO WHAT YOU LOVE. 

Most of us are passionate about something. We all have things that really matter to us -- whether it be a cause, a job, a loved one, or a hobby. Whatever it is that really excites you, focus on that. Spend time doing it as often as you can, and try to be really mindful when you're enjoying it.  One of the best ways you can learn to love yourself is to zero in on the things that you really, truly love. 

BE PROUD OF YOURSELF. 

It can be tough to be proud of yourself without feeling as if you're boastful, but it's okay to remind yourself how awesome you are every once and awhile. It's okay to admit that you did an amazing job on something or accomplished something you never thought you could. When you celebrate yourself and your achievements, you're focusing on the really good things about you -- and that's going to make self-love a lot easier!


LISTEN TO YOURSELF. 

Have you ever ignored your instincts or avoiding following a gut reaction? Self-love means not doing that. It means believing that, deep down, you know what's right for you -- and you should follow your own advice. Recognize that your thoughts and feelings are valid (even if they make no sense to anyone else!) and be brave enough to listen to them. You know, better than anyone else, what you need in your life. Never forget that. 


BE OBSESSIVELY GRATEFUL. 

As Danielle LaPorte said: "Be obsessively grateful." Be grateful not only for the things, people, and experiences around you, but for every inch of yourself. Be grateful for your body, which allows you to function. Be grateful for your mind, which allows you to even contemplate the idea of self-love. And be grateful for all of the goodness you bring into the world. If you want to find the good in yourself, direct your attention to what you have, not what you lack. 

 

Finding the good in yourself can be an uphill battle at times, but never, ever give up on the idea of self-love. When you love, appreciate, and respect who you are, everything in your life changes for the better. Your relationships are stronger. Your work is more brilliant. You feel braver and better and more in love with simply being you, just as you are.  

 

 

Loving-Your-Self

Finding the good in yourself is a brave act of self-love and self-awareness. Want to empower yourself with some more serious self-love and acceptance? Start loving yourself (or increase the love you already have for yourself!) with the inspiration and motivation found in Loving Your Self: An Empowering Workbook for Increasing Self-LoveFilled with uplifting encouragement, thought-provoking questions, and engaging exercises, Loving Your Self is an essential tool for mastering the art of self-love. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.


announcing... find the good february!

Find-the-Good-February

 

Today is the first day of Find the Good February: a month dedicated entirely to finding the good all around (and within) you! Read on for more details and info on this week's theme: finding the good ONLINE ... 

 

WHAT'S FIND THE GOOD FEBRUARY? 

I'll be honest: I've been dreading February for months. It's so silly, but the thought of a valentine-less Valentine's Day made me feel really down. Last month, I was feeling bummed (due to the post-holidays blues) and not at all looking forward to the cold and (romantic) love-less February so, instead of wallowing, I decided I needed to change my attitude big time. (As my mom used to always tell me when I was a kid, I was in need of an "attitude adjustment!")

The first thought that popped into my mind was to create a self-love campaign (based on some of the content in my e-books Finding Your Self and Loving Your Self), and I was initially really excited about this idea because, as you know, I believe self-love is absolutely vital. (It is, after all, the foundation for all of your relationships!) But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to focus on something even broader than self-love -- and that's when I got the idea for Find the Good February! 

I made the decision to dedicate the entire 29 days of February to focusing on finding the good in life -- online, at work, in my relationships, in myself, etc. Because, honestly, the best thing to do when you're having a hard time is to focus on being grateful for what's going right (instead of focusing on what's going wrong). So that's what Find the Good February is all about!

Get ready for a month of blog posts, Instagram goodness, and more -- dedicated entirely to finding the good in life. Each week will feature a different theme around the topic of finding the good, and this week's theme is all about finding the good ONLINE! 

 

FIND THE GOOD... ONLINE!

If you haven't noticed, there's a lot of negativity going on in the world, and a ton of it takes place online. There's bullying and negative comments and all kinds of hostility (especially when it comes to the upcoming presidential elections here in the US). It can be disheartening at times, but this week in Find the Good February, we're going to focus on two things (1) all of the wonderfully positive content online, and (2) celebrating and spreading positive content as much as we can! 

This week, I encourage you to...

  1. FIND POSITIVE CONTENT. 

    I know it's hard to find sometimes, but it's out there. There are people all over the world writing and creating and sharing uplifting content. It's so amazing that we can all be connected online in so many ways and that we have the power to create and share things with others. This week, seek out positive online content. Try not to click on anything that promotes negativity, and, instead, focus on the things online that bring positivity, encouragement, and joy into the world. 

  2. THANK THE CREATOR. 

    The best thing you can do when you discover positive content online is tell the person who created it how much you like it. Those who create and share online content would love know that you enjoyed an article, painting, photograph, meme, tweet, etc. Drop the creator a quick email (or leave a comment on his/her site) to let him or her know how much you enjoyed what s/he created. Even if this person is a big-time creator and receives tons of messages, take the time to leave yours too. You never lose out by sharing your gratitude!

  3. SHARE POSITIVE CONTENT. 

    Another excellent way to focus on the goodness online this week is by sharing the positive content that you find, spreading the goodness and allowing others to experience it. When you find something really uplifting, spread the word about it by sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. Or, if online sharing isn't your thing, email a link to a friend (or, if you're really old school, print and mail an article or image). Not only will you brighten your someone else's day, but you'll also help creators spread positive content. (As an added bonus, it also just feels nice to share something positive with others!) And don't forget to use the hashtag #FindTheGoodFebruary

  4. SPREAD SOME ONLINE LOVE. 

    It's important to find and share positive content this month (and always!), but another great thing you can do is create your own goodness by sharing the online love this month. Like as many things as you can on Facebook and Instagram. Retweet tweets and leave comments on your friends' Facebook and Instagram posts. Do you know how long it takes to leave a comment like "Love it!" or "Looking good!"? A matter of seconds -- and it can make someone's day. Clicking a "like" button takes even less time. Of course, the world shouldn't revolve around likes and hearts and comments, but these are small little things you can do that really make others feel nice, so why not spend a few extra moments this week doling out some serious online love? 

  5. HASHTAG IT! #FINDTHEGOODFEBRUARY

    I'd love to see what kinds of good things you find online. When you share on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #FindTheGoodFebruary so we can all share in the good things that we find. :) Hopefully this can become an annual event and every time we're struggling to stay positive or need some inspiration, we can click on #FindTheGoodFebruary and find all kinds of great, empowering, enlivening content!

 

MY FAVORITE ONLINE FINDS

To kick off the week of finding online goodness, I'm going to share some of my current favorite online finds with the hope that you'll enjoy them too! The first thing I've been really loving is the CaseApp website, where you can design your own phone case! I created the one below so I can remind myself to find the good all month long. Want to create one? From today until February 8, 2016, get 20% off on a custom case from CaseApp with the code POSITIVELY20. (If you want to create this exact one, you can download the PNG file here.)

  CaseApp Sample


The next thing I've really been loving in the online world lately is YouTube. I've never really understood all of the hype about YouTubers until the six months or so when I really started watching them. There's something really wonderful about following along with others' adventures and getting a glimpse into their lives. Some of my favorite YouTubers of the moment: Zoella, Sprinkle of Glitter, Anna Saccone, and Tanya Burr. Check them out for some lifestyle tips, inspiration, and more.

Third on my list of current online favorites is: Caroline Winegeart's Made Vibrant. I've been loving Caroline's work for quite awhile now, but I recently took her course (Your First E-Course) and was reminded of how talented and awesome she is. Her weekly newsletter always makes me think differently and feel inspired (and this is coming from someone who hates weekly newsletters!). Plus, she's been doing this amazing Abstract Affirmations series that combines her beautiful artwork with inspiring words and I absolutely l-o-v-e it. So, if you're a creative soul looking for bright, beautiful, brilliant inspiration, check out Caroline and Made Vibrant! 

Those are just a few of the positive online finds I've rounded up, but you can keep on top of my favorite things (and find new sources of inspiration) with my weekly Positively Present Picks, featuring links I love, books I'm reading, and a brand new playlist every Friday.  

 

I'd love to see what goodness you find online this week! Feel free to share it in the comments section or with me via social media. And feel free to share your own work / writing / sites too! 

 

  

Finding-Self-Cover

You know where else you can find good stuff? In yourself! If you're looking for some more soul-searching inspiration, check out the Finding Yourself workbook. Discover more about yourself, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.


feeling sad? try these quick pick-me-ups!

When-Youre-Sad

 

January is always a bit of a sad month for me -- and I know I'm not alone in this. For a lot of people, it's a gloomy, gray month filled with the dreaded post-holiday blues. It's back-to-work after a couple of months of fun-filled activities, and it's a especially tough time for anyone who suffers from SAD. About a year ago, I drew the image above when I was having a hard time after the holidays (it's always such a letdown when they're over, isn't it?), and I spotted it recently when I was flipping through my old sketchbook. 

Just like last year, this January has been less-than-stellar for me. I've always disliked this month, though I'm not sure if it's because of the post-holiday blues, the weather, or just the coincidence that things seem to get harder for me when the first month of the year rolls around. Whatever the reason, January is usually tough. And this one has been no exception. It's been filled with a lot of uncertainty and moments of unhappiness. When I rediscovered this image I created, I realized that it would be a good time to start taking my own advice -- and to share it, just in case anyone else out there could use some suggestions for those sad days. 

Whether you're going through a sad situation (a loss, a break-up, etc.) or you're just having a bit of a down day, these are some of the best ways I've found to feel a little happier when I'm feeling low. If you have any other tips or tricks you use when you're feeling sad, I'd love to hear them in the comments section below! 

 

WRITE YOURSELF A LOVE LETTER

Self-love is a great place to start when you're having a down day. Take a few minutes to write up a letter to yourself about all of the reasons you're awesome. This might sound like vanity or excessive self-pride, but it's actually really helpful when you're feeling sad. It shifts your focus from what's wrong to what's right. (If you find it too hard to write a love letter to yourself, give a gratitude list a try. Gratitude is a great way to focus on happiness!)

 

SMILE IN THE MIRROR

Smiling at yourself in the mirror can be a great little pick-me-up, even when you don't at all feel like smiling. (In fact, science shows that smiling might actually make you feel happier!) If you're a lipstick-wearer, it can also be fun to add a bright red or pink lip. It'll add a little fanciness to that smile of yours. You'll probably feel silly when you first try it, but that's part of the fun. Usually you'll feel so silly that you'll start laughing at yourself, which is a great mood booster. 

 

TAKE A NAP

While I'm not a big nap-taker personally, I know there's a lot of science that says a well-timed nap can make you feel a lot better (particularly if you're sleep-deprived, something that can happen when your feeling sad or stressed). Even if you don't love naps, give yourself time to rest and relax. Sadness --  even just a little dip in your mood -- can be exhausting, and you deserve a nice little rest. When you're sad, give yourself permission to take time for rest. 

 

TREAT YOUR SELF

Inspired by this episode of Parks & Recreation, one thing you can try when you're feeling bad is give yourself a little treat. Go grab a favorite scoop of ice cream, order a pizza, schedule a spa day, buy yourself a new book -- whatever it is you love, treat yourself to it! Of course, sadness can't be bought (or eaten...) away, but I've found that it's really nice to have a little treat when I'm feeling sad. 

 

PUT ON A GREAT OUTFIT

When you're down in the dumps, it's so tempting to sit around in sweatpants, fueling that sad feeling. While I'm not at all against sweatpants (I love them), I've found that it's really useful to get up and get dressed in something you really feel great in. Consider what outfit always makes you feel great about yourself and put that on -- even if you're just staying at home. Decking out in your best gear will give your mood a boost. 

 

DRINK SOME TEA

Drinking tea has a ton of health benefits, which makes it a great go-to when you're feeling sad. Not only is it healthy, but I've found that the warmth of it can be really soothing (especially during the cold month of January!). Sadness won't ever be cured with a cup of tea, but it's a nice way to add a bit of warmth and calm into your day. For an additional happiness boost, give a new kind a try. Doing something new is a good way to perk up your brain! 

 

CALL A FRIEND

One of the absolute best ways to cheer yourself up when you're sad is calling a good (and positive!) friend. You know that person who always knows how to find the good in a situation? Or the one that makes you feel like a rockstar when you're down? Call him or her up for a chat -- and a mood boost. Another great option is to create a connection with someone positive. Check out the Happiness Amplification Project to learn more about increasing happiness.  

 

LISTEN TO HAPPY SONGS

Sad songs can be alluring when you're feeling sad, but, believe me, happy songs are the way to go. Check out my Stay Positive! playlist on YouTube if you don't have a lot of happy songs in your life. Happy tunes can really boost your mood, and they work even better if you move to the music. One of my go-to tactics for down days is putting on some positive songs and dancing around my apartment. It sounds (and probably looks) silly, but it's a great way to feel happier. 

 

BUY YOURSELF FLOWERS

I'll admit -- I'm not big on flowers myself. I'd much rather have a box of chocolates or a playlist full of songs. But I know a lot of people benefit from the bright hues and floral scents that flowers bring to a room. So if you're feeling down, pick up some flowers for yourself as a little mood boost. And if flowers aren't your thing, find a way to focus on colors, sights, or scents that make you feel happy. 

 

LIGHT A CANDLE

Another great scent-related mood booster comes from lighting a candle. Not only is it pretty (and it sets the mooood), but if you pick a scent you love, it'll perk you up a little bit. I personally love anything that is sickeningly sweet (think: fresh baked cake, frosted sugar cookies, etc.), but there's a candle out there for every single scent preference. Try making your dinner a candlelit one or taking a bubble bath surrounded by scented candles.  

 

WRITE ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS

Writing is my outlet when things aren't going well. Whenever I feel sad, I grab a pen or my laptop and pour out my feelings, and, man, does it feel good. Even if you don't consider yourself a writer, writing about how you feel can be so cathartic and clarifying. Often it's when I write that I find solutions to my problems or uncover a perspective I hadn't thought of before. And the great thing is -- you can get it all out you and not show it to a soul. 

 

MAKE SOMETHING

I love creating things, and it's one of the quickest ways for me to boost my mood. Not only does it feel good to make something that no longer existed before, it's also a great way to get out of your mind (and rumination on sad thoughts) and direct your focus to what you're working on. While it's never a good idea to ignore your feelings, sometimes it's good to take a break from them and create something with your hands. 

 

TAKE A WALK

Another way to break the rumination cycle is to go for a walk. Take a turn around the block, visit a local park, or go for a power-walk at your local mall. It doesn't matter where you walk -- just get out of where you've been feeling sad and experience a new environment (with a little light exercise thrown in!). Add a soundtrack if you like (like my Relaxing Walk playlist) to keep excessive rumination at bay. 

 

READ A GOOD BOOK

Nothing feels quite as wonderful as good book (at least, if you're a book nerd like me!). A really captivating book can take your mind away from your sadness and allow you to focus on a story that's far away from wherever you are. Choose a genre that really appeals to you and set aside some quite, alone time to spend turning pages and becoming absorbed in someone else's words. You can check out what I'm reading on GoodReads (and check out my book here!). 

 

WATCH A FUNNY FILM

Another great way to cheer yourself up is to watch a really funny film. My go-to film for sad days is Elf. I don't care what the season; if I'm having a down day, it's going on the TV. If you have a film like that -- one that you always want to watch when you're feeling down, a sad day is the perfect time to put it on. And if you don't have a favorite? Ask a friend for a recommendation or check online for good ideas. 

 

LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE

The absolute best thing you can do for yourself when you're sad is focusing on the big picture. Whatever's causing your sadness might feel overwhelming and all-encompassing at the moment, but it will get easier to cope with in time. In most cases, what's got you down today won't matter in a year -- or even in a month. And even if it will, the pain will lessen as time goes on. Also, I've found it helpful to look up at the stars and realize just how small I am in this crazily huge universe. It helps, I promise. 

 

Like it or not, sadness is part of life. We all have our down days. We all have the moments that break our hearts, the times when we just feel like crying. But there are lots of little things you can do to help yourself cope with sadness. The tips I've listed above are useful for bouts of heartache or a bit of post-holiday blues. If you think you might be suffering from serious sadness or depression, please reach out to a loved one or a therapist and seek help. We can be happy every moment of our lives, but we all deserve as much happiness as possible. If you're just feeling a little down, hang in there. You're not alone -- and it will get easier!

 

 

Finding-Self-Cover

If you're looking for some more soul-searching inspiration, check out the Finding Yourself workbook. Discover more about yourself, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.


what are you doing for others? : 100 great ideas

What-are-you-doing-mlk

 

If you love quotes like I do, you'll know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man of many wise words. While I was searching through his quotes the other day, the one above stopped me in my tracks. Due to the nature of my work, I spend a lot of time focusing on the self (and encouraging others to do the same). A lot of my work is based on turning one's gaze inward and finding ways to make life better from the inside out. Self-love and self-knowledge are some of my favorite topics to write about because I believe the relationship you have with yourself is the foundation for all your relationships. (For more on building this foundation, check out Finding Your Self and Loving Your Self.) But, of course, cultivating self-love and a positive attitude is only part of equation for living a positive and present life. Another huge aspect is doing what you can to make the world a more positive place. 

When I first read this quote, I immediately thought, What am I doing for others? What am I doing on a daily basis to make the world a more positive place? What I love most about what I do for work is that I have the power to positively impact the lives of others online. I have the opportunity to reach out to others and share what I've learned about living a more positive, more present life. While this is nothing on the level of a positive impact of someone like MLK, it does feel good to know that, in some small way, I might be doing something for someone else. And, even if you don't have a positivity-focused job, I bet you have some area of your life in which you positively impact others -- coworkers, family members, kids, friends, etc. 

We all have the power to do something kind for others, to make the world a better place by taking positive action (even if we don't all have the opportunity to be inspirational activists and leaders like MLK!), but sometimes when life gets busy or we're overwhelmed by our own stress, we can forget about the positive power we wield on a daily basis. In honor of MLK (and positive, forward-thinking leaders everywhere), I encourage you to embrace that power and do (at least!) one small positive thing on the list below to make someone else's life just a little bit better.  

  1. Write a letter to a friend that lives far away
  2. Call up a relative who might be lonely
  3. Bring your neighbor's paper up to the door
  4. Sign up to volunteer at a local shelter
  5. Bake a special treat for someone you love
  6. Be on time when meeting up with others
  7. Read a story aloud to a child you know
  8. Let someone else go ahead in line
  9. Pay for the person's coffee behind you
  10. Give a generous tip to a service person
  11. Like every photo on your Instagram feed
  12. Send flowers to someone who loves them
  13. Plant something in honor of someone
  14. Visit the gravesite of someone you've lost
  15. Take your dog for a long, fun walk
  16. Give your significant other a massage
  17. Send an "I love you" text just because
  18. Let someone else win a silly argument
  19. Forgive someone who's hurt you
  20. Do someone else's chores for him/her
  21. Play with animals in a shelter (or adopt!)
  22. Make someone else's favorite meal 
  23. Send an email to an author/blogger you love
  24. Connect two people who might hit it off
  25. Make someone else laugh with a joke
  26. Offer to run an errand for a busy friend
  27. Respond with kindness to someone unkind
  28. Smile at every neighbor you see today
  29. Text an old friend to reconnect
  30. Donate things you don't use to a shelter
  31. Send a "just because" gift to a friend
  32. Make (and share!) a list someone's good traits
  33. Send a friend an old photo of you two
  34. Pay for someone's meal at a restaurant
  35. Stand up for someone who's in trouble
  36. Write to Congress re: an issue you value
  37. Donate old books to your local library
  38. Volunteer to read to others who cannot
  39. Spend time chatting with an elderly neighbor
  40. Offer to wash your parents' cars
  41. Post nice comments on social media
  42. Draw a picture for a child
  43. Visit children at a local hospital
  44. Speak up for voiceless animals
  45. Donate time or money to a good cause
  46. Put someone else's needs before yours
  47. Share your favorite blog with a friend
  48. Positively review a product you love
  49. Offer to babysit a friend's kids
  50. Smile at people in cars next to yours
  51. Bring a loved one breakfast in bed
  52. Compliment a complete stranger
  53. Give your pet an extra special treat
  54. Offer to work late for a coworker
  55. Clean up someone else's mess
  56. Warm up a loved one's car 
  57. Give someone a huge, bear hug
  58. Make a special lunch for someone
  59. Get your coworker's coffee for him/her
  60. Offer to take notes for someone else
  61. Help someone with a task you do well
  62. Send anonymous flowers to a friend
  63. Let a car cut in front in traffic
  64. Tell a heart-warming story to a friend
  65. Give a great book to a bookworm
  66. Grocery shop for a parent / neighbor
  67. Drop off dog/cat food at a shelter
  68. Tip someone you don't have to tip
  69. Speak to a manager about good service
  70. Offer to take a photo for selfie-snappers
  71. Write a (handwritten!) thank you note
  72. Fill up someone's parking meter
  73. Leave a positive note on someone's car
  74. Give what you can to a homeless person
  75. Take flowers to a nearby nursing home
  76. Compliment a parent on his/her child
  77. Point out the positive to someone
  78. Tell someone why you love him or her
  79. Put your phone away while with others
  80. Talk to someone who looks shy
  81. Make a playlist or CD for a friend
  82. Pick up litter and throw it away
  83. Give someone else the parking space
  84. Write your mail carrier a nice note
  85. Include everyone in a conversation
  86. Text "good morning!" to a friend
  87. Plant a tree at your local park
  88. Encourage someone's efforts
  89. Bring in a sweet treat for coworkers
  90. Go to Coinstar and donate your change
  91. Sign up to attend a fundraiser
  92. Call your parents (or grandparents)
  93. Buy a product from a small business
  94. Help someone with bags / boxes
  95. Share your gratitude with your parents
  96. Sign up to become an organ donor
  97. Give a homeless person a coat / blanket
  98. Donate in someone else's name
  99. Teach a child how to do something
  100. Ask someone, "How can I help you today?"

 

The things on this list might seem small in comparison with the acts of great leaders, but did you know that kindness is contagious? Yep, it's true! Doing something kind for someone else makes it more likely that person will do something kind and then there's a ripple effect. So, it might seem like doing one small, positive thing isn't a big deal, but small things can have a big impact!

Have any additional acts of kindness to add to this list? Feel free to share them in the comments section below!