Twenty years ago I stopped giving gifts. I realized that I was in over my head: Who do I owe? What do I buy? How much do I spend? What do I give someone if they give me something that I hadn’t planned for? Do I even enjoy gift-exchanges during the holidays?
When I asked myself this final question, I realized the answer was no. The practice of gift giving had become obligatory, kind of a drag and quite overwhelming for me.
So after a lot of contemplation, in October of the following year, I wrote a letter to every person I had a gift exchange with, and basically said that I’d like to start a new tradition between us — to send each other good wishes and good thoughts instead of a gift.
Since then, and over time, I’ve noticed that people really love the experience of kindness.
Today just happens to be World Kindness Day — a global movement to transcend our own experience and embrace another’s with empathy.
In exploring the definition of kindness, I’ve come to the realization that kindness is less about doing and more about being. The dictionary defines kindness as “the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate.”
It is believed that if you perform random acts of kindness for 2 minutes a day for 21 days, you can retrain your brain to be more positive.
A more positive mindset allows you to be more creative, intelligent and productive.
If you were to devote time to genuinely caring about the well-being of others, what would that look like?
It wouldn’t necessarily require money or a great deal of time. Perhaps it could be simply listening to someone. Or picking up the phone to ask a friend how they are doing. The gift of attention is a most powerful purveyor of kindness.
Here are a few ideas to rekindle some kindness in your day.
>> Send a message. Pick five friends or family members to connect with. Post on their social media page about how you are thinking of them or send them a thoughtful text if your time demands are constrained.
>> Dine with someone. If you have dinner with a television screen or eat lunch at your desk, you are denying yourself and others kindness that comes from sharing a meal. Who would love sharing a meal with you?
>> Save a little love for you. Do something loving for yourself today. It could be a nap, a quick walk to nourish your mind and body or tackling a chore that’s been lingering.
There is a deterioration of kindness in our ever-increasingly crowded and anxious world.
While we can’t alleviate the hostility, suffering and cruelty that we experience, we can create a renaissance of kindness in our own lives.
It is so true that no act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.
Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit yourhappinessu.com.