Stop Hiding Behind Littleness and Step into Making a Difference
It sometimes can seem like a daunting experience to live in our world right now. Media bombards us enough that we may have the fear that our world is very out of control. Whether we are talking about global warming, the national deficit, the political gridlock or mass shootings, we can find something daily in the media to support this fear. At these times, it can seem overwhelming to know how we can each personally do our part to begin to make a difference in our world. Actually, it is easy to decide; we can’t make a difference and live life in a bubble thinking we don’t have a responsibility to do our part.
But I am reminded by Mahatma Gandhi’s message of, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”Gandhi gives us a direct reminder that it has to start with one person, “ourself”, to make a difference. Mother Theresa reminds us of this as well. She stated, ““We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something”. Gandi and Mother Theresa lived with the idea that in any little corner of the world it is possible to make a difference through one simple act of kindness after another. Kindness could help us bring about the change we are looking for. From Wikipedia, the definition of kindness is as follows:
Kindness is the act or the state of being kind, being marked by good and charitable behavior, pleasant disposition, and concern for others. It is known as a virtue, and recognized as a value in many cultures and religions. Research has shown that acts of kindness do not only benefit receivers of the kind act, but also the giver, as a result of the release of neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of contentment and relaxation when such acts are committed. (Wikipedia, 2001)
I like to fantasize what would happen if each of us decided, for one day, to “be the change we want to see” or we really took responsibility for the small drop of ocean that we make up. We might live our day more conscientiously and decide not to let the drivers on the road around us irritate us. And in fact, it would be the day that we let others go in front of us who needed a moment’s pause from us on the road, going through a door or standing in a line. Maybe it would be the day that we extend true loving energy from our heart to others, all done behind the scenes within ourselves. It might be the day we call someone up who could use extra support. The potential for many scenarios is at our fingertips. But this all comes with a warning – there is a huge side effect to extending kindness and compassion to others – happiness!
Dr. David Hamilton writess about kindness and how kindness benefits the recipients and the givers. He states that kindness makes the giver happy and it benefits the giver’s heart. As people feel better (because they have been kinder to others), they want to be kinder because they are feeling better. It appears that kindness can have a snowball effect as the more you give, the better you feel, so you want to give more kindness. (Hamilton, 2013)
Hamilton states that warmth and compassion towards others creates oxytocin in the system. This is an amino acid that is transmitted during childbirth and breastfeeding. It is associated with warm contact, being in love or having a nice exchange with someone. Hamilton believes people are hard wired to be kind to others and that integrating this into our lives actually changes our brain structure, makes us feel happier, and creates stronger bonds in our life because we are extending warmth, compassion and kindness to others. (Hamilton, 2013) People often resonate with the idea of doing kind acts for others on a deep level because it expresses our spiritual philosophy that we try to live by. Perhaps this is hard-wired into us.
Hamilton challenges us to experiment with this idea of kindness and compassion and integrate it into our daily living. He suggests that we start with having one day a week that we call our “kindness day”. This is the day that we go out of our way for others and focus on being kind throughout the day. This can be as simple as showing and “feeling from the heart” gratitude for someone doing something nice for us. But it will probably evolve to much more as we start to live with kindness more and more. And a side note to this – these acts of kindness that impact us emotionally, mentally and spiritually are also physically good for the heart. People who extend kindness have extended benefits of lower blood pressure, decreased stress and an improved sense of well-being. (Hamilton, 2013) Acts of kindness impact us holistically. Perhaps kindness is the first step in living “heart-centered wellness for life” by being the change we want to see. And the next step is to make this a way of life because as you put others, you impact your own self on a holistic level. I challenge you today to step into the “bigness” of this challenge — go out today and live conscientiously to make sure that your imprint affects the world.
Hamilton, D. D. (2013, January 7). http://www.social-consciousness.com/2011/10/spirit-science-meditation.html#!/2013/01/dr-hamilton-how-your-mind-can-heal-your-body.html. Retrieved February 21, 2013, from Social Consciousness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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