Miss me? What a crazy month! I'm looking forward to having some quality downtime over the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m grateful for four days off in a row! Can I get an amen?
When I last wrote to you, in Working up the Nerve, I was thinking about ways we can actively work to build self-confidence. I had asked my friends on Facebook for ideas and shared their fabulous suggestions. Still, two weeks later, there is one response that sticks to my brain like gum on a shoe: Perform an act of kindness.
The idea of feeling good, by doing something good, isn’t terribly surprising. That was just a piece of my friend’s response. She said that she’s grateful for what she has in her life and likes to perform acts of kindness to share the love. My brain’s immediate response was, “Well, that’s gratitude in action!” And that’s where I’m stuck.
This time of year, we talk a lot about being grateful. I don't think about the story of the pilgrims at Thanksgiving at all. I look this holiday as a time to recognize our abundance and to be grateful for what we’ve received. Now, that I’ve got the idea of “gratitude in action” caught in my brain, being thankful somehow doesn’t seem enough.
Not that many years ago, I decided to focus my attention on relationships that are equal parts give and take. For too long, I did most of the giving, and when I needed a little something in return - ghosted.
Part of my problem is that I’m still learning how to ask for and accept help. I own that. But the relationships I’m going to put my energy into are ones that I don’t have to ask. They’re already there, offering support before I know I need it. I try to do the same in return.
I've been asking myself, "How is being grateful any different than a friend that's all take and no give?" "What does 'Gratitude in action' mean to me?" I love my life, and I am grateful for all the gifts I'm given every day. How do I reflect that? How do I give back in my relationship with the Divine, to give more than lip service to what is in my heart?
This time, rather than crowdsourcing the answer, I pressed my friends for answers in live conversations. You
probably know me well enough by now to know I'm going to have a list of solutions for you. I do love a plan.
Brene Brown is brilliant!
Sometimes it's a kind word or even a smile, that can give you a little lift when you need it. Looking someone you don't know in the eye, smiling at them, and saying hello is an easy way to say, "Stranger, I see you.”
Recently I was listening to an interview on NPR with Brene Brown about our relationships with people. She talked about how we are all connected, yet we’re growing apart from each other in these divisive times. We need to work on being more human, and acknowledging strangers is an excellent place to start.
I can't say "common courtesy" because it isn't so common. When I say, “thank you” and “please” to helpers in stores and at drive-throughs, they always act surprised. We've all know what to do. It’s not that hard. Opening the door for someone. Letting a person with less in their cart cut in front of you in line. These little gestures make the world a much better place.
During the holidays is a perfect time to practice this skill. This time of year is the absolute worse for how people in the retail and hospitality industries are treated. People acting like their agenda is the only one that counts, and everyone else better stay out of their way.
I try to be extra kind to these low-paid, hard workers who are on their feet most of the day. I carry gold stars in my purse to give away in recognition of exceptional service or having a sunny disposition even when people are rude. I need a "Congrats for not killing anyone today" sticker too.
Gratefulness Show and Tell
If you're grateful and you know it, say thank you. This was the number one answer in my unofficial poll of friends. Saying the words are essential, but showing your appreciation in creative ways is what speaks the loudest. A hand-written thank-you note takes a few minutes to write and will last a lifetime in peoples' hearts, and probably in their filing cabinet too.
I've said "thank you" with pans of lasagna made from scratch, home-made chocolate chip cookies, and other goodies. The service of creating something in appreciation is meaningful to me. Maybe cooking isn't your brand of disco, but perhaps arts and crafts are your thing. Whatever comes from your heart and comes out through your hands is a powerful way to say thanks.
One of the best ways to show businesses you appreciate them is through referrals. If you're happy with doing business with someone, tell people about it, and help them spread the word. Share their newsletters. Write positive reviews about them online. "Like," comment, and share their posts on social media. You can't imagine how much it helps businesses when people do this! I certainly appreciate it when people do this for me. (Was that too subtle?)
David Wagner is brilliant too!
Be a Daymaker
When I worked for Aveda, I met David Wagner, the inspirational leader and founder of JUUT Salonspas in Minneapolis. After a profound experience with one of his regular clients, David recognized the impact that he has – that we all have – in making the world a better place, one person at a time. It changed his life, and mine too.
He wrote Life as a Daymaker: How to Change the World by Making Someone’s Day. He started the Daymaker Movement to spread the idea and create more Daymakers, “A person who performs intentional acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.” That’s how I’ve tried to live my life since I met David.
Acts of Kindness
Do something kind for someone for no reason at all. Send a text to someone who is on your mind just to let them know you're thinking about them. Give credit where credit is due, especially when you get a compliment for the work someone else did. Look at the world with fresh eyes to see what is really going on around you and acknowledge that the people you encounter are in pain and hungry for kindness. We all are. It what makes us human.
This year while stuff myself with turkey and bourbon sweet potatoes, in the company of some of the people I love most in this world, I will thank the Divine for all my blessings. In the spirit of gratitude in action, I will be more mindful of how I reflect appreciation.
The Finishing School for Modern Women, located in Wichita, Kansas, offers classes to help women find their authentic selves; not because we need finishing, but because we’re never finished. We bring together women of all ages, to learn from experts and each other, how to claim our power in business, finance, communication, and life. To learn more about our live classes visit https://www.finishingschoolformodernwomen.com or https://schoolmodwomen.com/ for our online classes and free social membership.
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