Last Friday, I casually turned on the news only to find the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary that rocked our world.
I reacted as the rest of our country did – shock, sorrow, grief, and a pit in my stomach reminding me that we live in a broken world.
Though I don’t have children yet, I can only envision the unimaginable wave of grief that those parents felt and feel… vulnerable and raw.
Watching President Obama’s speech at the memorial service shot goose bumps all over my body. I could feel the weight of the tragedy, and even more weight as he described that this was the fourth in four years of school shooting memorial services he had attended.
His speech was emotional and bold, in my opinion, charging us to do the one thing on earth that we can:
Love not just our own family and friends, but the other networks and circles surrounding us. Because it’s these connections that may have a profound impact on those around us that we may not even be aware of, but may prevent such loneliness, anger, and neglect in the world.
With that little rant, I am inspired to find ways that I – and you – can bless others more.
It doesn’t even have to be financial.
We all have specific talents and gifts that others don’t have, and blessing others with these via time and love are the most important gifts that we can give, right?
:::6 Small Ways to Bless Others:::
1) Include Someone.
The holidays can be a very happy time for those surrounded by loving friends and family, but it can be a very lonely time for those isolated from loved ones and/or with sad past memories around these times.
Think about someone in your life that may not be your best friend, or even a friend at all, but an acquaintance through your work, gym, or other facets that could use a little love during this time.
Include them in something, whether it’s going out for coffee, shopping, or inviting them to your family gathering; I guarantee it will make their holidays a TON brighter.
2) Love On Your Elders.
Whether you have living grandparents or not, every elder deserves some extra tender loving care.
Last week, I dropped off a secret recipe of cheese dip that my Great Aunt Pat gave to me, along with some crackers. Her eyes lit up like you wouldn’t believe! Such small acts can go a very long way for some…
I find the elderly to be fascinating people – they are survivors for making it to old age, and have untapped stories about experiences, knowledge, and wisdom that we all could benefit from!
Besides, if we’re lucky enough, we’ll some day be old and wishing that we had more fun-loving people in our lives!
If you don’t have any elderly loved ones in your area, contact a nursing home or two in your area. I’m sure they have weekly and monthly volunteering opportunities, whether it’s reading to someone without vision, playing music, etc.
3) Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.
Surprise your neighbor by shoveling their driveway if there’s snow, bring over some baked cookies, or even just pick up the newspaper in their driveway and drop it off.
These small acts of kindness are powerful waves of momentum that end up getting paid forward to others!
4) Hug Someone.
Turns out, I was wrong. Experts say we actually need 10-12 touches each day!
So, hug someone, or two, or ten people today. It’s the gift that gives back, too!
5) Volunteer Your Time.
Volunteering can be intimidating, because it involves commitment. And some people may have odd schedules with kids, travel and work, hindering the long-term opportunity to make an impact.
But, there are short-term ways to volunteer time, too, including “virtual volunteering” opportunities as well.
Check out Volunteer Match as an incredible resource to figure out an opportunity that excites you! It allows you to look at all facets of volunteering by zip code. If you travel a lot, this may be a great way to do some giving on the road.
6) Smile and Greet a Stranger.
Smiles can melt away anger, frustration, and pain, especially when unexpected.
I’m sure we can all recall a time when we had a terrible day, and ran into a friendly passer-by who smiled and said hello in an incredibly caring way… and it changed our attitude and perspective immediately.
Do the same for someone else. You never know what is going on behind the scenes of someone’s life, and that extra smile and greeting can go a long way for their day!
Bonus: Other Small Acts at the Grocery Store
Is it just me, or is grocery shopping always slammed during the holidays?
The next time you go, if you are healthy and able to walk, park farther away. Some day, you may not have your health, and will really appreciate close parking spots. For now, you can get some extra exercise in!
Other ways to help: Open the door for someone, let someone cut in line at check-out, and/or help someone carry their groceries.
What other small acts of kindness have you done or plan to do to pay it forward?