I subscribe to an online magazine called the Elephant Journal which describes itself as “it’s about a mindful life”.
This online journal is one of many, too many, that I get on a daily and weekly basis about Buddhism, liberal Christian thought and mindfulness. Honestly I get so many I rarely read half of them but this particular email headline caught my attention; 38 ways you can finally stop being a D*ck.
Here is Via Shivani Vyas, who wrote article, list of 38 suggestions;
1. Opt out of engaging in road rage. If someone does happen to show you their lovely middle finger, communicate the peace sign in return and just smile.
2. Be firm but courteous to telemarketers. Remember they are just doing their job to pay their bills.
3. Write a thank you card and mail it to someone who has helped you in any way, big or small.
4. Leave positive feedback on Google Reviews for small, locally owned businesses.
5. Never judge someone based on what you think has happened or what you think you’ve seen. Always choose communication over assumption and be accepting of cultural backgrounds different from your own.
6. Be a genuine friend and never pretend to like someone or offer fake compliments. Be authentic, but civil.
7. Love your neighbors by doing something nice for them. Offer to mow their lawn, bake them fresh brownies, or just sincerely ask how their day’s going.
8. Be sincere during holidays by gifting items someone could actually benefit from, not just items you’re re-gifting from another occasion because you couldn’t use them yourself.
9. Build a “feel better” basket for someone going through a crisis, whether it’s personal, health-related, or financial. Pack it with lavender candles, freshly baked cookies, teas, their favorite movie, and organic soap.
10. Appreciate your parents for who they are, not what you want them to be. Remember, they were once children too and are on journeys just like you. They’re not perfect, only human. Call them up. And when visiting them, offer to do a household chore for them from start to finish.
11. Accept that not everyone’s heart will match up to yours, and still choose to kill em’ with kindness anyways. If this doesn’t work, limit your interactions with any surrounding toxic people.
12. If you’re lucky enough to still have grandparents, visit them as much as you can. Bring them small gifts like warm socks or cozy blankets for winter.
13. Cook a family member their favorite meal at a random time during the year and share it with them.
14. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, volunteer at a soup kitchen at least once on this holiday.
15. Notice a homeless person at a traffic light asking for money? Give them food instead. I once gave a homeless man a fresh mango, and his eyes filled of joy. This is a great option if you worry about where your money goes after giving it to a community member in need.
16. Buy special foods for those with food sensitivities. Surprise a coworker with a box of gluten-free pasta if they have Celiac disease, nut-free items for those with peanut allergies, or soy-free desserts for soy allergies.
17. If you tend to buy more produce than you need and end up throwing some of it away (because you didn’t have time to cook it), either buy less or freeze your produce as soon as you get it. This act of kindness is one toward our environment, and its effects Prevent food waste in any way you can—this could mean taking smaller servings at food buffets, too.
18. Place a $10 bill underneath a car’s windshield wipers in a parking lot randomly. Imagine how happy they’ll be to find that bill!
19. Visit children’s hospitals with toys and funny party supplies. Even the dollar store has a whole aisle full of children’s toys—$12 could help 12 kids.
20. Tip your servers well. Many times, their income is already below minimum wage, so they truly rely on tips to make a living.
21. Leave a $5 bill on top of a vending machine for the next person.
22. Pay for the order of the person behind you in a drive-through.
Community & Environment:
23. Offer help when you can. Tutor a student in a subject you know well for free, or assist an elderly person in carrying their groceries to their car.
24. Gather all unused stationary or office supplies and donate them to a nearby underprivileged school.
25. Stop littering.
26. Clean your home with green products.
27. Recycle everything that you can by reading product labels and printing out a reminder list of what is not recyclable versus what is (then post this list on your fridge or directly on the recycling bin).
28. Volunteer at no-kill animal shelters and adopt pets whenever possible instead of buying. Thousands of shelters worldwide have pets aching for love, many from abusive homes.
29. Take diligent care of any living things in your home, whether they’re plants or pets. Water your plants, provide fresh nutritious food for your pets, and love both.
30. Practice going meatless at least one day/week.
31. If an insect happens to get into your house, see if you can capture it in a glass and set it free outside. Remember, they have homes too and essentially have gotten lost and ended up in yours by mistake. Also, step over worms after a rainstorm, instead of on them.
32. Don’t buy plants if you don’t have the time, resources, or energy to take care of them. They are living things too. If you don’t have the time but still want plants in your home, opt in for faux plants instead.
33. Seek help and support if you suffer from a mental illness, never be ashamed of it!
34. Treat your body with love, it is your true home. Give it eight glasses of water each day, nutritious food, time in nature, exercise, and meditation.
35. Create organizations that could fulfill some type of need in your local community—an anti-bullying club, anti-littering team, or a neighborhood watch group.
36. Organize your spaces and free them of clutter. Donate your clutter to a nearby Salvation Army, Goodwill, or other organization who could make good use of them.
37. Believe in yourself, your capabilities, and strength.
38. Love yourself and all your kookiness too—it makes you unique.
As Ms. Vyas notes in her article, this is a huge list but I would suspect out of these 38 ideas we can each find five or so, particularly the ones that involve other people, to act upon. As the Ram Dass quote in the beginning of the article offers; “Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we’re so deeply interconnected with one another.”
With Thanksgiving coming up this week and Christmas next month this would be a good time for all of us to take stock on how we treat ourselves and each other. I get it, we feel helpless sometimes. We feel like the world is spinning out of control above our heads and beneath our feet. We feel like anything we do or say doesn’t matter. But here is the thing if we can each help, love, share, and matter to the souls we bump into everyday, the people we encounter in our small, local orbits, the movement will grow and these small orbits will expand and become revolutions, revolutions of kindness, compassion and empathy.