Christmas can be a very challenging time for some people. While the Christmas films may portray a fuzzy conception that everyone is out to look after their fellow man; that is not always the case. Studies have shown that many charities actually receive fewer donations during this time of year, mental health services are inundated with a higher number of requests for support and from my perspective; I become seemingly more aware of the discrepancies of wealth that exist both in this country and further afield. While real structural change is needed to create a more balanced society (and I believe is something we should collectively be working toward.) I also think there are some very easy simple ways that we can implement some real positive change.
It sounds corny but true change starts from within. Start small; start with your community, your next door neighbour, your auntie, yourself. Kindness is one of the most important, noble traits we can demonstrate during times of struggle. Kindness brings us into the moment, makes us more present and helps us to forge deeper connections. And it’s so easy to do! If we can open ourselves up to giving and receiving kindness this year; then let me tell you I think we might be onto something very powerful indeed.
It seems so simple, so childlike, and almost laughable that someone would think these steps will create a more harmonious society. But I promise you that kindness holds so much more power than we can truly comprehend. Tiny changes can move mountains. There are roughly 7 billion people on the planet: you are not expected to change everything by yourself, but you can commit to making some smaller changes. 24 days of kindness is the least we can do, but it’s a pretty amazing place to start.
Side note: if you don’t like one of these suggestions, then please substitute with your own idea! If you miss a day, or several days then you can do a few in one day. I’ve made them relatively easy to do so that’s they feel achievable. Lastly, please feel free to ask me any questions or to share any experiences/thoughts with me.
With no further ado….
Send 10 messages of positivity. Think of the people around you who are smashing or and tell them why, or send out encouragement to people who need a boost.
Buy a coffee for the person behind you in the queue. If you want you can explain why you’re doing it and encourage them to do the same for someone else.
Buy a homeless person a hot meal or drink, but more importantly, stay to have a conversation. Do just the conversation if you don’t have the money. Buy several people something if you do have the money.
Apologise for something you have done. Awkward and uncomfortable? Maybe so. You’ll feel so much better once you do though.
Anonymous donation. You pick the cause, it could be absolutely anything. The amount is not important. Donate accordingly to your financial situation and don’t feel guilty. If you do not have the money, donate some time. Find one day in the future where you can pitch in and offer your skills, if you have neither the time nor the money: share them on Facebook and with your friends. Marketing is priceless to some organisations.
Bake cookies for someone. Doesn’t have to be cookies (I just happen to be awesome at them.) Make your speciality; it could be a tubberware box of curry, or a pitcher of your infamous cocktail, you decide.
Call up a family member who either lives far away or one you haven’t talked to in a while just to check in and see that they are okay.
Do something kind for yourself. This needs no explanation. Try and make it something beneficial, not just the obvious of comfort food and PJ’s in bed. Sometimes serious things can be kind too. Make that hospital appointment you’ve been putting off; ask for help on the thing that’s bothering you, own up to something, hell even start filling your taxes. All of these are acts of self-kindness in themselves.
Ask a friend “do you need to talk?” and listen. Be present; don’t try to make their problems small. Ask them if they want practical advice or if they just want to be heard before you get started with your response. Remind them they can talk to a professional if they are going through something really serious.
Promote an independent business! So many people will be looking for last minute holiday buys this time of year, could you point them in a direction of a hardworking individual with something unique to sell?
Do something kind to your environment: learn how to recycle, buy some travel cutlery so you don’t have to rely on plastic, put up a bird feeder, plant a seed in your garden, (check first that it can be planted this time of year!) water your plants. Show gratitude.
Say something positive/give a compliment to every person you speak to that day.
Stand up for what you believe in. Everyone has a cause/causes that are close to their heart. Sign a petition, write to an MP, find a local group to get involved with or attend a protest or rally.
Donate some time. Reading to people in hospital, helping at a local food bank, volunteering at an animal shelter; the list goes on and on. You could even offer to babysit for free for a friend or family member. I’m going to be looking into somewhere where I can offer a few hours of reiki for free.
Give away what you don’t need. Friends/family in need, charity shops, women’s refuges, hospitals, community centres, people on the street. Always check first what these people need and then donate accordingly.
Say thank you to your parents or the people who raised you. Sometimes it’s so easy to take peoples help for granted. Sometimes it’s nice for people to hear that they are appreciated. If this isn’t possible for you, then say thank you to someone who has helped you recently.
Tell someone you love them.
Invite someone over for a home cooked meal or give someone a handmade gift. Or do both for two different people.
More self-care! It’s getting close to Christmas and you have been working so hard already to spread the love. Do something today that is just for you and don’t feel bad about it – you can’t pour from an empty cup after all.
Ask “can I help”? Could your friends benefit from some of your knowledge? Could you support a co-worker in any way? Could you offer some work experience/mentoring to someone wanting to work in your field? Could you help paint a neighbour’s house? Ask today one way in which you can help.
Learn more about the world. Read up on one cause you wish you knew more about. Share this knowledge with someone else.
Buy/pick flowers for someone. There’s just something about flowers that make people feel happy.
Leave a happy note for someone to find: a bus, a coffee shop, your office, the street, anywhere.
Touch base with an old friend. We can drift apart from some really fantastic people sometimes, check in with one person, or even several people if you chose to.
You’re done! What have you learned from this process? What would you do again? What have you learned about kindness?
Thank you for participating in this project and I hope you have a very, merry Christmas.