Considering my last post was all about surrounding yourself with positive, inspiring, like-minded people, it seems very fitting that this guest post is from someone who has been a great inspiration to me on my kindness journey. He has embarked on a very similar year-long challenge which he writes about in his honest and thoughtful blog Resolve to Give.
Eric has challenged himself every day for a year to “do something helpful for someone or our community; something which might be a little uncomfortable; something which connects me to someone; something which requires me to listen to people I disagree with; or something which forces me to seek out people who need a hand up. In the hopes that it becomes a habit.”
It makes me very happy just knowing that there are people like Eric moving through the world each day with such a beautiful, generous intent. Not only has he been able to increase the happiness of others, but has also learned the key to creating more happiness for himself – giving. Who knew it would be so simple?
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We all strive for happiness. In our jobs, in our hobbies, in our lives.
But if happiness is so important, why is it so fleeting? We hear a good joke and laugh. But it doesn’t last. We’re happy to get a raise. But it doesn’t last. We read an inspiring blog, feel motivated, happy to make a difference. But it doesn’t last.
So how do you turn fleeting happiness into lasting happiness? I propose that it comes from giving two things simultaneously, time and kindness.
Time – For the past year, I have been undertaking a personal challenge to give my time everyday, going above and beyond my normal routines to give back to the people in my home, neighborhood, community and the world. Over two hundred days of giving my time has taught me that the more time I invest in the people around me, the more their lives are improved and the more sense of purpose and direction I have. It has changed me deeply.
Kindness – Kindness is the art of giving to others as well. As the author of this blog, Catherine, has written so eloquently, it is giving your attention, giving a smile, or giving an ear. It means plugging a parking meter for a stranger. It means generosity. It means selflessness. It means listening when no one else will listen. Like listening to a lady sitting in a mall by herself.
When you give your time and when you are kind, you are investing in people. You are investing in the happiness of others. And that investment is magnified when you give more of your time to being kind.
The time you invest is the difference between feeding one mouth, or twenty. It is the difference between donating a few vegetables from your garden, or donating many vegetables by serving in a community garden. It is the difference between giving a kind word, or listening to someone’s story for an hour.
Kindness is magnified by the time you invest. The more time you give, the kinder you are, the bigger impact you will have on the world, and on yourself.
The impact on you is happiness. Knowing that you are making a difference, that your efforts have value, will reward you. People will give back to you smiles and gratitude which give us a feeling of worth.
But unlike the happiness from a good joke or more money, the happiness that comes from giving your time and kindness does not come back in ways you expect. It comes back in better, unexpected ways.
Happiness comes as an unexpected smile from a stranger because you are unknowingly smiling at them.
Happiness comes from an acquaintance expressing interest in your work, because you helped them with theirs.
Happiness comes when you need help, and suddenly, an army of people comes to your aid because you had helped them before.
Happiness comes from discovering a new skill, cultivated over time, by volunteering for something that initially challenged you.
Happiness comes, not because sadness and anger go away completely, but because you learn to look past it to next day.
Happiness comes from realizing that your time is yours, and that you are using it to make lasting change in the world.
Happiness comes because you can be kind to yourself without guilt because everyday you are kind to others.
Happiness comes in an untroubled night’s sleep which come more and more frequently.
And on and on and on …
By continually giving your time and being kind daily, you build lasting happiness. And you’ll probably make a lot of other people happy along the way.