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How to Save the World (and Yourself) Through 365 Daily Acts
By Orly Wahba
Flatiron BooksCopyright © 2016 Orly Wahba
All rights reserved.
Act: Create a list of goals for the day, the week, the year. You have an immense amount of potential and can achieve more than you can imagine. First step is reminding yourself of that!
Quote: "Your past is not your future. You have the power to make new decisions for your life starting today." ~Deb Sofield
Reflection: The greatest mistake we can make is allowing the guilt of what we haven't yet achieved consume us. Working off of negativity will never get you very far. Instead of looking at the gap between where you are and where you want to be, stop for a moment and look behind you at how far you've come and the small goals you've achieved. Use that momentum to propel you forward so that you can reach your next goal, your next achievement. Here's a tip: It's better to create smaller, more attainable goals than one larger-than-life goal. Break things down into their steps and climb the ladder one rung at a time.
Act: Make today "Judgment Free" in words, and, most important, in thought. Let's work on altering the way we think about others. The way we judge others is often the way the world will judge us.
Quote: "By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are." ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Reflection: What is judgment but fear of admitting our flaws and insecurities in our beliefs? Simple introspection and acknowledgment that we are all human and, at times, make errors in judgment equips us with the ability and know-how to see the other side of the coin.
Act: Get into the habit of saying "yes!" to the small favors and requests your family members make of you.
Quote: "Never underestimate the difference you can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out, and help." ~Pablo
Your friend: "Can you pick me up from the train?"
Your response: "Sure! Let me know when you're a stop away and I'll be ready for you."
Your sister: "Can you pick me up from the train?"
Your response: "Can't you just walk? It's freezing outside?"
Family members are like friends you keep forever. Why is it so much harder to do kindness with those closest to us? We know in our hearts they will be there regardless of our mistakes or if we disappoint them. Isn't that a reason to celebrate our family? A reason to say yes when given an opportunity to give back to them knowing that they will have our back through thick and thin? Make it a point to give a second thought to the way you respond to your family today. Once you see the impact, you won't have it any other way.
* * *
Act: Memories can re-create special moments. Reach out to an old friend and reminisce about a time you both shared together.
Quote: "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart." ~Helen Keller
Reflection: Why do we fear reaching out? Perhaps the thing we fear most is that we've been forgotten, that the memories we so fondly recall are only significant to us. Remember this: If those moments meant a great deal to you, the likelihood is that they meant a great deal to the person you shared them with. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Life gets busy on all ends, so be mindful not to place blame or point fingers as to why you haven't kept in touch. Feelings of anger, hurt, and resentment will prevent you from reconnecting with those people in your life that you've drifted from.
So, get those photo albums out and take a stroll down memory lane until the memories become so strong that they appear before your very eyes. When you open your heart you may be surprised to find a piece of yourself that you have lost sight of.
* * *
Act: Be polite on the phone today!
Quote: "Life is short but there is always time for courtesy." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Reflection: From telemarketers, to your spouse or friend, to employees, your distant aunt, or your mom calling for the twentieth time to see what you'd like for dinner, be mindful of how your words impact the day of another. You may not be able to chat for long, but communication is never about the words, it's about the tone, the inflections of the voice, and the way in which those words are said. It will take the same amount of time to utter them in kindness or frustration, but one will leave a person feeling uplifted while the other may change the trajectory of their entire day.
* * *
Act: Our environment needs a little loving. Start becoming mindful of recycling. It may take you an extra moment to find a garbage can or recycling bin, but think of the impact. Let's take a step toward a cleaner world for us all.
Quote: "Love the world as you love yourself." ~Lao Tzu
Reflection: Ever wonder why the cleanest places stay clean, while the extra dirty places seem to get dirtier? Our actions or lack of action is often a reflection of our surroundings and environment. Here's something to consider: Are you more or less likely to throw trash on the ground in a city whose streets are immaculate as opposed to one whose streets are decorated in an assortment of waste? The cleaner the space, the more likely we are to want to keep it that way. The problem arises in a space where recycling is out of the norm. Let's break the habit and do our part, recognizing that if each and every person made a small effort, the job would be done. Instead of speaking words of kindness for the environment, let's live it and be a model for others to follow.
* * *
Act: Before you leave class, thank your teacher for a great lesson. Two small words with a big impact.
Quote: "Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless." ~Mother Teresa
Reflection: As a teacher, there are times when I question myself. Did I have an impact? Did I even make the slightest change? Did I leave a mark? It's quite curious and equally wonderful that a simple "thank you" infuses a teacher with the endurance to overcome the tough days and wake up the very next day ready to open her heart and give of herself wholeheartedly.
* * *
Act: Donate old books to the library. It may very well become someone else's all-time favorite.
Quote: "Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world." ~Malala Yousafzai
Reflection: Rarely in life do you find an object that retains its ability to continuously impact regardless of how many times it has been used. A book may first appear as a collection of pages filled with information, knowledge, and stories yet to be told. But in between the lines lie endless opportunities, possibilities, and dreams for the unsuspecting reader still discovering who they are as they contemplate the next chapter waiting to be written in their very own book of life. A good book can inspire one person to change their world, thereby changing the world as a whole.
* * *
Act: Take a moment to offer words of gratitude to a bus or taxi driver and let them know how much you appreciate their service.
Quote: "A compliment is something like a kiss through a veil." ~Victor Hugo
Reflection: "I see you." Three simple words we all crave to feel. They don't need to be uttered or shouted from the rooftops. They simply need to be felt in a smile or a warm greeting. There's beauty in the moment when two sets of eyes connect and an energy is magically transferred. To see beyond the labels, beyond the titles, beyond the collars. And suddenly what's left is the person: their heart, their soul, and their essence.
* * *
Act: Find yourself waiting in a line today? Break the ice and engage in a few minutes of conversation with others. Not only will the time go by faster, you may come out of it with a new friend.
Quote: "Courage is the power to let go of the familiar." ~Raymond Lindquist
Reflection: I will always recall one short interaction I had with a complete stranger while waiting in line in a crowded restaurant. Long lines, big crowds, and wait times often cause instant irritation but when I think of this particular situation, I can't help but smile. We could've complained like so many others. Instead we made light of the situation, shared some words back and forth, and transformed the mood and agitation of all those waiting around.
The way I see it, each person we come in contact with has something they are meant to offer us and something we are meant to offer them. It may not be measurable in money, connections, success, or the like. You may gain a new friend but you're more likely to gain a new perspective. We all have something unique to give, to teach, to inspire, to instill. It's not always communicated through words, but it still exists. Shed the labels, shed the fear, shed the insecurity, and take a chance.
* * *
Act: Know someone looking for a job? Lend a hand and assist them with their job search or résumé writing. Your guidance could help them land an opportunity of a lifetime.
Quote: "Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." ~John Wooden
Reflection: Procrastination, fear, and uncertainty are what I like to call the enemies of progress, preventing us from pursuing our dreams and achieving the goals we set for ourselves. Often all we need is a little push. A friend of mine, Jacq, needed this push when she decided that the time had come for her to leave her job. Working as an executive assistant was never meant to be her endgame, but like so many of us she became comfortable. She was ready to take the leap and begin the daunting task of rewriting her résumé, but, naturally, the "enemies of progress" reared their ugly heads. Jacq wasn't fighting them alone, though. We jumped on a call and together took the first step in starting a new chapter of her life. She didn't know where it would lead, and neither did I, but I knew I couldn't be happier to receive the opportunity to get her one step closer to her goal.
* * *
Act: Know someone who is struggling with the ups and downs of life? Gift them an inspirational book that has uplifted you and given you hope in times of need.
Quote: "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Reflection: It can be found in a beautiful sunset, the smell of the grass on a spring day, the laughter of a child, an inspiring story, a hug, or a smile. For me hope was found in the words of a favorite book. Reflecting on all of the advice I had given throughout the course of my years, I came to realize that dispensing advice is far simpler than heeding it. Sometimes we need to take a step back to have the courage and strength to take the next steps forward. We may be unaware of where they will go, but we can be content in knowing that at least we have the hope they will go somewhere.
* * *
Act: Dream big! It's the dreamers of the world that save us all — so never stop dreaming.
Quote: "Don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon." ~Paul Brandt
Reflection: There will inevitably be days when you don't feel you can conquer the world, when perhaps you feel as though the world has conquered you. But remember, it is precisely in those moments of weakness when you are given an opportunity to find a great strength within yourself that you never knew you had. Have courage and be strong — because you're worth it and no one can take that from you if you don't let them.
This goes out to all those who need a reminder that someone out there is betting on them, even if they've stopped betting on themselves for the time being. Remember, hope is never lost.
* * *
Act: Be confident. Be brave. Use your voice! Stick up for someone even if they aren't around.
Quote: "True character is what you say and do when no one is looking." ~John Wooden
Reflection: Choices don't simply dictate the lives we lead, they impact the lives of those who choose to follow us. It's one thing to choose the right path when others have treaded that path before you; it's another thing to create your own. So when you're faced with a choice, choose to inspire, choose to empower, choose to stand for those who have lost the will to stand for themselves. Who you are isn't determined by the amount of people watching you, but rather by your choices when no one is there to judge. Doing the right thing is not always easy, but then again the things in life that are worthwhile never are.
* * *
Act: Have a family member that is starting out on a new venture or perhaps contemplating pursuing their dream? Encourage them to push full speed ahead. Don't allow your fears to dissuade them from taking the leap.
Quote: "Everyone needs a house to live in, but a supportive family is what builds a home." ~Anthony Liccione
Reflection: When I decided to leave my teaching job after seven amazing years to start a nonprofit with the sole mission of spreading kindness in the world, everyone thought I was crazy. I didn't have the funding or the experience, but I did have the dream. I had the passion and the conviction to answer the question of "why," knowing full well that if my heart was in the right place the "how" would find its way to me. Often discouraging words are simply a reflection of one person's inability to envision their dream being actualized. If a person lacks the belief that they can achieve their dream, how can they possibly presume to think anyone else can believe it? A few encouraging and supportive words have the power to make what was once impossible possible. You may think someone is just a "dreamer" with the inability to actualize their dream, but a little support from your end can tip the scales in their favor.
* * *
Act: Love someone for who they are. By doing so you may realize that they are already what you need.
Quote: "Being happy doesn't mean everything is perfect, it means you've decided to look past the imperfections." ~Gerard Way
Reflection: It's once we see a person for who they are that we can begin falling in love with the qualities that make them unique. No one is perfect. It was never meant to be that way. The challenge is seeing beyond the imperfections and uncovering the hidden gem that lies within them. I've found that the more we learn to see the hidden gems within ourselves, in spite of our tendency for self-criticism, the easier it becomes to spot them in others.
* * *
Act: Take a genuine interest in a friend's culture and background. What a great way to find the beauty within our differences.
Quote: "Be curious, not judgmental." ~Walt Whitman
Reflection: Our differences are reasons to celebrate. A picture painted with various shades of the same color is far less appealing than combining many colors and their various tints, hues, and shades, each color giving the painting greater depth, meaning, and beauty.
* * *
Act: Share the acts of kindness, courage, and bravery that you have committed in an effort to protect our planet, the animals, and the people that afford it meaning.
Quote: "A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions." ~Amelia Earhart
Reflection: Purity of heart mixed with genuine humility ensures that when we share our wins we are doing so for the right reasons. In today's world of digital media, one person can easily turn into thousands — i.e., one person has the power, through a single post, to impact millions. Now, more than ever, we need not question the validity and life span of our efforts. Every positive action has the potential to inspire, motivate, and empower someone that you may have never met and may never meet to make a change, give back, and contribute something positive to the world. Someone out there is waiting for the inspiration that you alone can provide. The only question that's left to ask is what are you waiting for?
Excerpted from Kindness Boomerang by Orly Wahba. Copyright © 2016 Orly Wahba. Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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