A Year of Kindness
Updated: Feb 19
Blog Post by Oran Aviv
In a world that often seems filled with conflict and negativity, it can be easy to become discouraged and lose hope. By choosing to be kind, we can make a positive difference in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. Choose to be kind this year. Kindness is contagious in the sense that it can inspire others to also act with kindness.
Word in – Resolutions Out
A few years ago I heard from a colleague, that rather than make a list of New Year’s resolutions, she choses one word that guides her through the new year.
I think the idea was created because so many of us find that traditional New Year’s resolutions can be filled with overwhelming goals that we soon abandon. It is easier to stay motivated all year by choosing only one word that aligns with our values and goals for the new year.
For 2020, I decided to embrace the concept of choosing a word to focus on for the year. I chose the word "appreciation", as I wanted to slow down and appreciate the little things in life that I had been missing. Without intending to, I began taking a photo every day of something that I appreciated and shared it with family and friends on social media.
As we all moved into isolation during the pandemic, I stopped working. I had time to explore the fields and the small eucalyptus grove that was within the 100m limit I was allowed to walk to with my dog Sandy. I observed nature and took daily photos that I shared with friends and relatives who were also in isolation, and most did not have an escape to nature.
I learned how and when the flowers bloomed. I began to recognize the different chirps birds made and how they made their nests. I saw that even during our dry, hot summer, the Eucalyptus trees come alive as they shed their bark. I enjoyed sunrises and sunsets and the stars and the moon. My word “appreciation” allowed me to see how much there was to enjoy within my small, confined space.
So – yes, I am a great believer in choosing a word for the year, but I think it only really works if you can find the right word for you.
Choosing a New Year’s Word
If you want to try to choose a word to guide you through the new year, the word you choose should be personal and meaningful to you.
Perhaps you want to choose a word for personal growth or to work on a specific goal. Take a few moments to think about what single word could help you improve a certain aspect of yourself or to achieve a goal.
If you are having trouble finding a word, here are some examples of possible New Year words. You can choose one of these or perhaps they can help you find the word you are looking for. Gratitude
In 2020, my word of the year "appreciation," ended up being exactly the word I needed that year. I sometimes even wonder if it may have been a premonition of the events to come.
In the last two years, my chosen words weren’t as successful, but I think what really helped with my word "appreciation" was that I shared my daily appreciations with friends and family.
Another way to focus on your chosen word, is by writing it down every day in your personal calendar and reflecting on how you related to it that day. You can also keep a notebook by your bed and write the word down and how you related to it before you go to sleep.
You can also share thoughts on how you didn't relate to the word that day. Don't be hard on yourself – the point of this exercise is to enjoy the process of self-reflection and growth. By simply writing the word down every day, you'll already be thinking about it more often.
2023 - The Year of Kindness
For 2023, I've chosen the word "kindness" as my focus for the new year. I chose this word because I've been saddened by the increase in hate and the division among friends, family, and even strangers in recent years. I want to make a conscious effort to be more kind in my relationships with others, particularly with people on-line.
I believe that small acts of kindness can have a ripple effect. If you are the receiver of an act of kindness, you may be more inclined to be kind to others. Together we can make kindness the norm again.
In one of my recent blogs, When Less is Better, I wrote about the increased extremism of views around the world, and the need to be more moderate and to learn to compromise:
Compromise is an important skill in any relationship, whether it is with friends, family, or colleagues. It involves finding a way to meet each other halfway and finding common ground, even if you don't completely agree on everything.
I decided to walk my talk and make kindness a priority in my life this year. I want to make sure that every day I do at least one small act of kindness. I hope some of you will join me.
There are many things we can do to be kinder. I’ll share some ways with you.
Be Kind On-line
I invite all of you to try to do at least one kind act every day. It really doesn’t take much to be kind and the more you practice kindness, the more natural it becomes.
Sometimes being kind can just be a matter of keeping ourselves from being unkind. In our fast-paced digital world, it can be easy to let impulsivity get the best of us and say or do things that may be hurtful without meaning to.
To combat this, I am learning to take a step back and review my words before hitting 'send' on an email or comment. I try to put myself in the other person's shoes and consider how I would feel if someone wrote the same thing to me.
It's not always easy, especially for a redhead like myself who can be very impulsive, but taking a moment to pause and reflect, has helped me to respond rather than react emotionally. By being more mindful of our words, we can strive to be kinder to others and perhaps we can create a more compassionate world which to me, is so lacking today, especially in social media.
The Buddha’s Checklist
I am fortunate to have Stephanie Nobel as my meditation teacher because she can clearly explain complicated Buddhist teachings in a way that is easy to understand. She also uses personal stories to illustrate how these teachings can be applied to improve our lives.
Recently Stephanie gave a Dharma talk about the Buddha’s checklist for speaking wisely. I recommend reading this article on-line, but here is a part of what Stephanie taught:
The Buddha did an in-depth analysis and came up with a checklist for speaking. To be Wise Speech, our words must be:
Timely - Something could be kind and true but poorly timed when the person isn’t able to listen.
Kind - Something we say could be true but unkind.
Beneficial - Something could be true but not beneficial.
Rooted in Wise Intention
Kindness is important, but we should also be aware of these other important parameters when we chose our words.
Imagine if everyone reviewed their words with this wise speech checklist before posting or speaking to someone. I know I would be able to post about certain topics without the fear of being verbally attacked.
It’s Easy to Be Kind
There are countless ways to be kind and make a positive impact, from volunteering to help those less fortunate than us to adopting a rescue pet, but I’d like to focus on the simple ways we can all be kind each day.
In my blog What is Stopping Us I wrote how I finally sent in an abstract to a conference (which was accepted,) because of a handful of women, most of whom I had never met, who encouraged and supported me. You never know how a few kind words may change someone’s life.
There are many ways we can be kind.
Compliment - Most people complain, be the one who compliments.
Thank the checkout clerk for being so fast.
Thank the person cleaning up the beach so you can enjoy it.
Salute the older crossing guard as you pass by, so he feels appreciated.
Thank the garbage man for putting your bins back to the right place.
Tell a parent what a good job they are doing
Thank a family member for helping
Thank a teacher for their hard work
Thank a caregiver for doing such a good job
Last week during a storm, we had a power failure in our neighborhood. On our neighborhood Whatsapp group, one of the neighbors asked if anyone needs his help due to the power outage, especially the older neighbors. It was such a lovely gesture, that it made all of us stop complaining about not having electricity.
You can also:
Offer a helping hand to someone who needs it
Hold the door open for someone
Babysit for newborn parents
Take a dog for a walk if the owner is ill
Get in Touch
Call up an older friend or relative who may be lonely
Call a friend or family member and ask how they are
Meet with someone you are always too busy to see
Send a note to someone to get well
Check up on someone who is a family caregiver
Be Courteous to Other Drivers
Be kind and allow the other car to pass into your lane
Let the driver turn left at the intersection
Let the person pull out of their parking place on a busy street
Thank a business for their good service
Write a recommendation for a business who gave you good service
Support a private business on-line by liking and sharing their posts
Comment on a friend's post if you see not one saw it
forward an article/meme/photo/clip to someone you think will enjoy it
Remember, it's the small acts of kindness that can often have the greatest impact. So don't be afraid to get creative and come up with your own ideas for spreading kindness in your daily life!
Wishing everyone a year full of kindness.
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