You guys, I can’t believe it's already the last day of 2015. What an incredible year this has been. This year I landed my first gig in the world of nonprofit, visited Seattle for the first time (where I got my first tattoo), finished my degree, volunteered a bunch, moved to a beautiful new apartment, changed the way I use social media and how I approach my blog, and, of course, completed 365 Days of Kindness!
365 Days of Kindness
When I started this project it was with the intention of posting each day’s kindness(es) on my blog in an effort to hold myself accountable. Over time I found that, rather than feeling motivated, these posts made me feel like I was missing the whole point of the project; as though I was sullying something good by unintentionally using it as a means of self-promotion. It was a bad feeling, to say the least, and as a result I decided to stop posting kindnesses entirely and instead keep the project to myself.
This was the best decision I could have made, for a few reasons. First of all, it freed up mental and digital space for me to post more about the other things I want to write about. Second, that gross feeling of being disingenuous and self-serving went away. And third, I began to see fully just how well those little daily kindnesses had been integrated into my life. So well, in fact, that I eventually did away with recording them at all and instead relied on a single reminder on my phone to ensure that I had done something kind or generous each day. Not so I could post about it. Not so I could get a pat on the back or show the world how great I am, but because learning to live with the welfare of others always in the back of my mind is the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done. It has made me a more empathetic and useful person. Making a habit of kindness might be one of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself, and I can’t recommend it enough.
If you are interested in making kindness a part of your routine, I would suggest starting with one of these:
- Build it into your budget. As someone who works in nonprofit, I can tell you with great sincerity that every donation - no matter how small - goes a long way to helping an organization stay afloat. Start by building as little as $5 into your monthly budget, and make a commitment to donate that amount to the organization(s) of your choosing on a set date each month.
- Toss a few extra items in your grocery cart. Most major grocery stores have a bin near the exit where you can donate non-perishable food items to a food bank such as Winnipeg Harvest. I recommend doubling up on one or two items that you are already buying for yourself and tossing them in the bin on your way out. No bin at your local grocery store? That's your opportunity to speak to management and encourage them to bring one in!
- Test your vocabulary and donate rice to hungry people at the same time with FreeRice.com. This costs nothing more than a few minutes of your time, but be sure to disable any ad blockers you have running while you play (World Food Programme uses the ad revenue generated from each correct answer screen to purchase the rice).
- Leave a book behind. I love reading, but hate the idea of a book sitting on my shelf when it could be out in the world being enjoyed by someone else. I use the local library a lot for this reason, but also like to purchase used books, read them, and then leave them in a public place with a note for someone else to pick up and enjoy.
These are just a few ideas to get your started. See how easy it can be? 10/10 do recommend.
What Comes Next
I usually love setting goals for the new year, but this year I find myself crawling into January a bit more worn down than usual.
As amazing a year as 2015 was, it came with a cost. I failed to stay balanced throughout the year, and consistently put my work and education ahead of my health and well-being. My eating habits have suffered (more than I would like to admit), my stress and anxiety levels are sky-high, and I have been ignoring some pretty serious warning signs when it comes to my mental health. In short, I am bone weary, mentally tapped out, and feeling like a shadow of myself.
With that in mind, I have begun crafting goals and steps for 2016 that focus on bringing me back around to good health – both mentally and physically. I’m not a big fan of sharing too many details of my goals before I’ve spent some time with them (I’ve found that this leads to a false sense of accomplishment before I even get started), but I will say that my health and wellness are my top priority this year. A close second is starting work towards becoming a CPA, which is something that I will probably talk more about once I’ve started coursework (hopefully) in the spring.
So there it is. I am equal parts grateful and humbled by the opportunities and lessons that came my way this year, and am looking forward to tackling whatever comes my way in 2016.
Happy New Year, friends!