40 Good Days
Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com
OK , I'm just going to come out and say it. I recently turned 40. I wasn't overly happy about it, but there really wasn't much I could do about it. So, instead of dreading it, I stole an idea from a very good friend of mine and decided to turn my birthday into a 40-day adventure. I committed to doing one kind thing or good deed each day for 40 days. The idea being to directly or indirectly touch the life of another person to celebrate the number of years I have been on the planet.
I made a list of possibilities, charities I wanted to support or things I could do, and promptly convinced myself I would never be able to make it happen. I work full-time. I'm a mom and a wife and a daughter, sister, friend, etc. There are a million things I already have to do. The negative thoughts crept in. It was too daunting. I'd never be able to make this happen. Or would I?
As I write this post, I'm on about day 20 and let me tell you I'm sad it's halfway over. This exercise in selflessness has changed me in some really incredible ways. It's amazing when you stop and look around how many opportunities there are to help. Simply opening your eyes and looking changes your perspective. The list of things I want to do, people I want to help, keeps growing. You start Googling random acts of kindness or charities in your area and the brilliant work going on all around you starts to pour forth into your life. Plus, the whole thing just makes me feel good. Giving is the most direct way to feel like you're being given back to.
The thing that has surprised me most about my journey thus far is how excited my son is about it. We talk about what ideas he has of things we can do to help others. As often as possible, I try and include him in whatever I'm doing that day. It can be something simple like leaving pennies at the fountain at the mall so little ones can make wishes or baking cookies to give away.
Or it can be something that touches on a larger issue. We've had some really good conversations about homelessness and how we can help those who don't have a place to live. We've talked about people who are sick and suffering in the hospital and what we can do to bring them some comfort. These conversations probably wouldn't have happened without this project.
I've learned that kids can make a difference in the world. They are inherently compassionate and love to help. I'd encourage anyone to help their kids find their own ways to give back. My son is even talking about doing this for his birthday this year. I can't think of a better present for my birthday than raising the level of compassion in my own child and watching how our small acts of kindness ripple outward creating more and more love in the world.
Here are some simple and inexpensive ideas to consider doing with your children:
- Load quarters in a gumball machine or vending machine.
- Leave pennies by the fountain at the mall.
- Write a letter of thanks to a soldier (Operation Gratitude).
- Bake cookies to give away – maybe have Mom or Dad take them to work.
- Leave coupons next to the corresponding item at the grocery store. (This was one surprisingly popular with my son and great indoor activity for a hot day.)
- Clean out old toys and clothes to donate.
- Volunteer at whatever charity speaks for you - lots of them have kid's days.
- Hold the door open for people somewhere and say "Good Morning" or "Have a great day."
- Set up a lemonade stand and donate the profits to charity. (Alex's Lemonade Stand has great free printables.)
- Make a bird feeder.
- Draw a picture for someone who lives far away and mail it to them.
This post was not sponsored. All opinions and selections are my own.