Why Kindness? The Inspirations Behind the 365 Days of Kindness Project

Hello again, friends! Thank you for your responses to yesterday’s post. I am really excited to get started; January 1st can’t come soon enough!

The 365 Days of Kindness project is the product of a number of seemingly unconnected inspirations, each of which has left a lasting impression on me. I thought it would be nice to share a little bit more today about how this all came to be.

For starters, in 2013 a local photographer, David Lipnowski, committed to photographing and posting a portrait to his blog every day that year. The result was a fascinating and fun to follow project that I looked forward to seeing in my feed reader each day. I admired his commitment to actively working towards his goal every single day and, still almost a year from beginning my own personal development journey, lamented my ability to commit to such an undertaking. I tucked the idea of a “365 day” project into the back of the mind and hoped that one day I would be ready and inspired to craft one myself.

Part of my growth over the past year has involved returning to school in the fall to begin work towards finishing my bachelor’s degree, something I am now deeply entrenched in (and madly in love with). One of the courses I took last term was on the topic of interpersonal communications and was offered by the faculty of Social Work. Our textbook for the course was supplemented with a readings package and a small, unassuming book called The Sacred Tree: Reflections on Native American Spirituality (Judie Bopp). One passage from The Sacred Tree in particular gave me pause:

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This isn't a new idea. In fact, I’m sure you can recall a time or two in your own life that you have skimmed over an article or seen a story on the news that mentions this very concept. And it makes sense, doesn't it? After all, I can think of fewer things that give my life more meaning than the activities that make me feel like I am contributing or making a positive impact, no matter how small. For me no amount of money or material goods can compare to the feeling of truly and completely being a part of the world. As I made my way through The Sacred Tree I found myself wondering how I could work this lesson into my own life. Another seed was planted in the back of my mind, and I carried on my merry way through the course.

Finally, sometime last month I found myself hanging out at home alone. I had the day off from work and had made steady progress on final assignments for my university classes, and so I decided to plunk myself down in front of the TV and watch a movie. I settled on a documentary simply titled “Happy” - one that had caught my eye many times but I had never made time for. The film explores the concept of happiness through interviews with people from fourteen different countries interspersed with commentary from psychologists located around the world. Again, the theme of happiness as a product of generosity and service surfaced, and I walked away from the film intrigued by the different lifestyles of the people I had seen interviewed and wondering how I could incorporate service to others into my own life in a meaningful way. I have already set my sights on a career in the non-profit sector and begun volunteering my time with a local community outreach program, but what more can I do while I am still a university student on a tiny budget? How can someone like me make a difference in a world as large as the one we live in?

The idea came to me, as it usually does, as I was tidying my little apartment. I began bouncing ideas off of Jackson, who seemed mildly confused by my line of questioning but eager, as always, to help. Could I use the 365 day project format to tackle my own goal of having a positive impact on my communities while simultaneously increasing my own contentment? What if I challenged myself to perform one act of kindness, generosity or service each day for an entire year? Could the cumulative effect of my daily efforts over the course of a year really make a difference?

So that, in a nutshell, is how the project came to be. I’m looking forward to seeing where this new endeavor takes me, and I hope you’ll follow along as I work my way through 365 days of kindness!

xoxo

Vanessa