Mindfulness

Changing My Mind

With the world today in turmoil — there seems to no end to the rampant cruelness and tragedy everywhere, I struggle to maintain a positive and hopeful outlook.

I needed a way to gain some equilibrium — to break out of this feeling of impending doom that was leaving me worried and full of despair.

After reading about others’ experiences, I decided to employ three strategies to help me get back on track.

Practice mindfulness. Living mindfully gives us room between our selves and our reactions allowing us to live with intent, wisdom and compassion. As Deborah Schoeberlein David writes: “…Stressed thoughts, words and actions can easily hurt others. The more balanced my emotional state, I less I risk harming others. The steadier and more emotionally healthy I become, the more energy and intention I have to contribute positively in my relationships and the world.” [Practice Mindfulness for Living Mindfully — Huffpost, May 17, 2016]

But how, you may ask, do you learn to live mindfully?

As with any new skill, there are steps and guidelines to follow as you work towards a goal. Luckily, we live in an age where information is virtually at our fingertips (have you met my BFF, Google?) A quick search brought up a plethora of articles, tips, and tutorials that can help.

Developing mindfulness can begin with learning to meditate — and learning to meditate does not need to be complicated. Simply sitting quietly for a few minutes every day while you pay attention to your body and your breath — can prepare you to build a meditation practice.

If you are interested in mindfulness and meditation, checkout Getting Started With Mindfulness 

Show gratitude. It may seem obvious — everyone knows that being grateful can help to change your attitude, but we sometimes forget to look for and recognize the good things in our lives.

Studies have shown that expressing gratitude can improve your health and the health of those around you. Being grateful can benefit your relationships, help you get a better sleep and improve your productivity. Read this, to find out more.

Practice compassion. Compassion connects us to others and is considered a natural human instinct that is essential for a healthy and happy life. Like gratitude, compassion can improve our relationships with others and benefit our physical and emotional life. Discover 10 Scientific and Medical Reasons Why We Should Be Compassionate 

Interested? Try this simple Mindful Challenge from Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare

I’m already feeling better as I move to put these three tactics into action and to learning more about living mindfully.

Here are more great resources to help you get started:
12 Indispensable Mindful Living Tools
mindful — healthy mind, healthy life
Zen Habits

Do you practice mindfulness? Tell me about it — I would love to hear about your journey!

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Kindness Matters

Blog Post #263

It isn’t difficult to find information, quotes and examples of random acts of kindness on the internet. If you are looking for inspiration or ideas on ways to be kind in your everyday life, there is a wealth of material to help you — just a google search away.

Heart image

There are many reports, articles and videos on the web that illustrate and promote acts of kindness — you know, the news spot that narrates the $5000 tip left by a random diner, the YouTube video that regales the stranger who rescued the puppy stranded on the highway, or the anonymous donor who makes a spectacular lifesaving bequest. Do random acts of kindness have to be big to be worthwhile?

I often hear friends say that it is challenging to come up with RAKs ti, to them their attempts feel forced and insincere. That can easily happen when you overthink things or try to come up with the perfect way to show a kindness.

One remedy for this that I found is this wise quote from Aesop, the ancient Greek storyteller:

“No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.”

Taking these words to heart and simply acting with kindness in small, ordinary ways can benefit friends and strangers alike, in ways you can’t imagine and might not ever realize. Remember — one kind word or smile can change someone’s day!

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Counting Down to Christmas

Blog Post #222

It’s December 1st!

Time to drag out all the Christmas boxes — set up the tree, put on some Christmas music, start wrapping all those gifts.

kris-kringle

One of our favourite traditions is hanging up the advent calendar to begin the countdown to the big day. The sad thing is — we had a break-in a few weeks ago. Thieves broke into our storage room and ransacked everyone’s lockers. We didn’t think much was missing — Bruce’s old guitar was gone for sure and every taped up box was searched. Of course, we don’t store anything of real value in there (except for the guitar!) You know, we had the usual stuff packed in our little space — knick knacks, framed pictures, books, and yes, Christmas decorations.

After searching through all the Christmas boxes, I was dismayed to find that our advent calendar seemed to be missing (along with some of our nicest ornaments!) We’ve had that calendar for at least 20 years! (Who would steal something like that?) It was made of red felt and had 25 little pockets that held a little yellow, wooden star that we moved from day to day until the 25th. The girls enjoyed taking turns moving the star every morning and I LOVED it because there were no little chocolates to fight over!!

Now, even though my daughters are grown, we still put up the advent calendar — and I move the star along every day. This year, I decided that since the calendar was gone, we would forego the tradition and look for something to replace it after Boxing Day when Christmas is on sale.

But then, as I was catching up with my friends on Facebook, I saw one of them had posted a link to a “Kindness Advent Calendar” from the website: Make Today Happy!

kindness-advent-calendar

Think about it — 25 random acts of kindness to count down the days to Christmas. I LOVE it! I’m definitely going to put this up — without a doubt, this will put me in the Christmas spirit. I see some possible tweaks that I could make to this for next year — like make it out of felt, with 25 pockets for the RAKs so that it will be reusable.

Kindness Advent Calendar. Share it with your friends.

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Saturday Night Round-Up

Blog Post #217

Chilling at home on Saturday night — cruising around the web, catching up on all my social media, following interesting websites and reading up on things that are going on in the world.

There is a lot of information out there on the world wide web — I want to share some of the things I found most interesting, heartwarming or just plain fun!

Wise Words

This quote popped up in my Facebook feed — one of my FB friends posted in on his wall (Thank you, Allan!) — and I believe these are words to live by.

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. ~ from the Talmud

Brotherly Love

Also from my Facebook feed, this story centers around the reaction of the congregation of Heartsong Church in Memphis learned that a Muslim Islamic centre was going to be built right across the street. You may be surprised at what transpired. I was.

Random Acts of Kindness

You know how much I love RAKs — so you won’t be surprised that I’m sharing this video from the YouTube channel, Wow So Amaze — Mind-Blowing Facts and Countdowns. This list of  5 Incredible Acts of Kindness restored a bit of my faith in humanity.

Brain Food

For a little bit of fun, try these ten brainteasers. Some of them are a little tricky! How many can you answer?

Your Lyin’ Eyes

Did you know that you can hear up to 200 lies per day? Watch this Ted-Ed video that explains the language of lying.

View the full lesson on Ted-Ed.

That’s it — that’s my round-up for this Saturday! Hope you enjoyed it!

 

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A Cup of Kindness

Blog Post #187

Wow! Today I was on the receiving end of a Random Act of Kindness and I have  to say that it felt fantastic. Of course, I have experienced many kindnesses throughout my life — from friends, family and even total strangers.  While, I recognized and appreciated all those acts of generosity, I did not consciously think about them in the same way that I do now. These days, I think of RAKs with intent — I try to purposely “do nice things” for people whenever I can. I try to notice those moments when an opportunity to act with kindness presents itself.

Today, when I was standing in line at a Starbucks, waiting to order a coffee — I received a RAK. A sweet young woman paid for my drink when she was paying for her own and her friend’s salted caramel mochas.

I cannot describe the joy that this small gesture gave me. This unexpected act of generosity filled my heart and lifted my spirits. The brief encounter had everyone around me smiling, the happiness was not only mine, but it spread around and touched everyone who witnessed the exchange.

That cup of coffee was the most delicious coffee I had ever tasted and I am more determined than ever to spread kindness all over the place!

This experience, at this moment in my life, has enabled me to understand the power and importance of spreading acts of kindness everywhere we can. I know these actions make me feel good when I extend them to others — but now, I understand the joy that receiving a kindness brings. I understand how simple it is to bring a moment of happiness into another person’s life and how it is possible to make a difference in someone’s world with one small act.

Who wouldn’t want to do that for a fellow human being?

spread-happiness-wherever-you-go

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A Little More Kindness

Blog Post #131

Did you know that performing acts of kindness not only makes other feel good, but helps you feel good as well? Studies have shown that people who volunteer or are otherwise engaged in doing “good”, live longer, are healthier and feel happier.

Need a few tips on ramping up your random acts of kindness? Try these five RAOKs — one or more of them might just be your favourite thing to do!

bouquet

Buy a bouquet of flowers and give them to the receptionist at your office or other office that you visit. A receptionist deals with all kinds of stresses during the day — your gift might just make his/her day.

Got some spare time? Why not volunteer at a seniors’ home or community recreation centre — an opportunity to make a positive difference in someone’s life and a boost of “feel good” for you.

sleeping girl

Offer to babysit for a neighbour or someone you know who has small children. A night out for dinner and a movie is always fun, and would certainly be a welcome kindness for harried parents.

Finished that paperback you bought last week at the bookstore? Leave it somewhere in a public place with a note to enjoy the read, tucked inside.

Bake a batch of healthy cookies and take them to your children’s school for the teachers and staff to enjoy.

groucho

Bonus Tip: Be kind to yourself — remind yourself that you are AWESOME!

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How to Be Kind – 5 Easy Ways

Blog Post #87

Did you know that when you practice kindness is beneficial not only to you and the recipient, but to everyone around you as well. Random Acts of Kindness website lists in their Kindness Fact #2: the positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed in a crowded area can create a domino effect and improve the day of dozens of people.

That’s one good reason to be kind, but sometimes it can be a bit tricky to perform “random acts of kindness” — sometimes we don’t see the opportunities to reach out that are presented to us. Sometimes we need to make our own opportunities —these five easy ways might help us to show more kindness every day.

smile

Say Something Nice

When you are out and about, try to observe the people around you, see who may need an encouraging word or friendly grin. Pay someone a compliment: comment to a parent how charming and cheerful their child is; Tell your barista she has a lovely smile; or remark to your waitperson at lunch how much you appreciate their service. You might be surprised at the response you get.

Say it With a Post-it-note

Write words of encouragement and affirmations on a pad of post-it notes,carry them with you in your bag or pocket. Stick them in public places that you find yourself in. A bright neon coloured square with “You’re worth it” scrawled across it and stuck on the mirror in a restaurant bathroom will definitely make someone feel wonderful.

Be Generous

Send the receptionist at your office flowers, anonymously; make two lunches, give one away; pay for the coffee/drink for the person in line behind you at Starbucks. Drop your change in a donation jar. Treat a friend to a movie — just because.

Lend a Helping Hand

Hold the elevator or a door for someone. Help someone carry their groceries. Give up your seat on the bus or in a waiting room. Wash someone’s car. Offer to walk your neighbour’s dog.

Be Loving

Smile at everyone you meet. Say hello to passersby. Send a friend a “thinking of you” card. Hug someone (as Charlotte Diamond always says: “4 hugs a day, that’s the minimum”). Compliment a co-worker for the work they do. Tell your friends and family how much you appreciate them and why.

Before you know it practicing random acts of kindness will become a habit and you won’t have any trouble finding creative ways to spread joy and love wherever you go.

Check out these examples of awesome people, like you, performing simple acts of kindness.

This news clip tells the story of a  woman in Richmond, Virginia who gave the coat off her back to a young woman in need.

Teachers at St. Matthews School in Cambridge England decided to try something different to combat bullying.Instead of focusing on anti-bullying techniques, the entire school spent a week learning and talking about kindness and practicing acts of kindness. Find out how they did it and what they discovered.

I love how this young woman decided to spend her 20th birthday. I’m thinking we should all give this a try!

This last video isn’t exactly a random act of kindness, but it illustrates how people working together to come to someone’s aid can perform an amazing feat. Now that’s what I call “People Power”!

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30-Day Minimalism Game — Day Six

Continuing on with the minimalism game on day six: I am donating six various bowls and baskets. Hmm… I may be “stuck” in the kitchen for the entire month — do you think I will end up with empty cupboards?

30 Days of Donating/Selling/Trashing
Day 1 – One jacket (donated)
Day 2 – Two serving dishes (donated)
Day 3 – Two decorative bowls + one glass jar (donated)
Day 4 – Four serving plates (donated)
Day 5 – One plastic cake carrier/w lid + one plastic dip & veggie dish/w lid + one footed glass bowl + one small serving bowl + one light fixture (donated)
Day 6 – One large glass salad bowl + one green, rectangular fruit bowl + two baskets + one soup tureen + one angelfood cake pan

Total: Twenty-one items

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The 3 Things I Saw on the Web This Week

Blog Post #55

It’s Friday again (how did that happen?) Well, since it is the end of the work week,  I will share with you some interesting things I found on the internet (just like I did last week!)

Lie to Me

Watch as Marco Tempest, a magician who uses interactive technology and computer graphics in his illusions and presentations, demonstrates his multimedia magic as he talks about the magic of truth and lies.

 

Caught in the Act

The next time you go to a library or bookstore, leave a thoughtful note in a book you enjoyed reading. The next person will discover this friendly message and appreciate your helpful review—possibly leaving one for the next reader as well!

Life Vest Inside sent me this suggestion for this RAOK, in their ezine, Daily Kind Digest. Don’t you think this is a simple and awesome gesture? I can’t wait to do this — and I hope that someday I find such a note in a book!!

Kindness graphic

 

What should I wear? Or how I began to think about who makes my clothes.

It’s so easy for us to disregard the reality of the clothing industry, even as we are busy shopping. Do you look at at the label to see where your jeans are made? Who are the people who make them? What are their lives like and why we should think about these and other questions? Watch the trailer for the documentary, The True Cost, to discover some unpleasant truths about the fashion industry and why we should all be more aware of the way our clothes are manufactured and how that impacts those that sew the things we wear.

Read this article about the documentary including an interview with the filmmakers, found on the eco fashion website, Ecouterre.

 

The full documentary is available on Neflix, iTunes and Amazon. Watch it. Also, try googling #whomademyclothes for more information and ways to get involved.

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Brynne’s Daily Drawing #55

Brynne's Daily Drawing #55

 

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The Gift — A Lesson in Respect

Blog Post #36

Today, I was thinking about kindness, and how good I feel when I exercise good will to others. I remembered a story that I read years ago in the book: Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart – edited by Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfeld.

Serenity

I love this narrative and the message it conveys.  Read it below:

The story concerns a monastery that had fallen upon hard times. Once a great order, as a result of waves of antimonastic persecution in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the rise of secularism in the nineteenth, all its branch houses were lost and it had become decimated to the extent that there were only five monks left in the decaying mother house: the abbot and four others, all over seventy in age. Clearly it was a dying order.

In the deep woods surrounding the monastery there was a little hut that a rabbi from a nearby town occasionally used for a hermitage. Through their many years of prayer and contemplation the old monks had become a bit psychic, so they could always sense when the rabbi was in his hermitage. “The rabbi is in the woods, the rabbi is in the woods again ” they would whisper to each other. As he agonized over the imminent death of his order, it occurred to the abbot at one such time to visit the hermitage and ask the rabbi if by some possible chance he could offer any advice that might save the monastery.

The rabbi welcomed the abbot at his hut. But when the abbot explained the purpose of his visit, the rabbi could only commiserate with him. “I know how it is,” he exclaimed. “The spirit has gone out of the people. It is the same in my town. Almost no one comes to the synagogue anymore.” So the old abbot and the old rabbi wept together. Then they read parts of the Torah and quietly spoke of deep things. The time came when the abbot had to leave. They embraced each other. “It has been a wonderful thing that we should meet after all these years, “the abbot said, “but I have still failed in my purpose for coming here. Is there nothing you can tell me, no piece of advice you can give me that would help me save my dying order?”

“No, I am sorry,” the rabbi responded. “I have no advice to give. The only thing I can tell you is that the Messiah is one of you.”

When the abbot returned to the monastery his fellow monks gathered around him to ask, “Well what did the rabbi say?” “He couldn’t help,” the abbot answered. “We just wept and read the Torah together. The only thing he did say, just as I was leaving –it was something cryptic– was that the Messiah is one of us. I don’t know what he meant.”

In the days and weeks and months that followed, the old monks pondered this and wondered whether there was any possible significance to the rabbi’s words. The Messiah is one of us? Could he possibly have meant one of us monks here at the monastery? If that’s the case, which one? Do you suppose he meant the abbot? Yes, if he meant anyone, he probably meant Father Abbot. He has been our leader for more than a generation. On the other hand, he might have meant Brother Thomas. Certainly Brother Thomas is a holy man. Everyone knows that Thomas is a man of light. Certainly he could not have meant Brother Elred! Elred gets crotchety at times. But come to think of it, even though he is a thorn in people’s sides, when you look back on it, Elred is virtually always right. Often very right. Maybe the rabbi did mean Brother Elred. But surely not Brother Phillip. Phillip is so passive, a real nobody. But then, almost mysteriously, he has a gift for somehow always being there when you need him. He just magically appears by your side. Maybe Phillip is the Messiah. Of course the rabbi didn’t mean me. He couldn’t possibly have meant me. I’m just an ordinary person. Yet supposing he did? Suppose I am the Messiah? O God, not me. I couldn’t be that much for You, could I?

As they contemplated in this manner, the old monks began to treat each other with extraordinary respect on the off chance that one among them might be the Messiah. And on the off off chance that each monk himself might be the Messiah, they began to treat themselves with extraordinary respect.

Because the forest in which it was situated was beautiful, it so happened that people still occasionally came to visit the monastery to picnic on its tiny lawn, to wander along some of its paths, even now and then to go into the dilapidated chapel to meditate. As they did so, without even being conscious of it, they sensed the aura of extraordinary respect that now began to surround the five old monks and seemed to radiate out from them and permeate the atmosphere of the place. There was something strangely attractive, even compelling, about it. Hardly knowing why, they began to come back to the monastery more frequently to picnic, to play, to pray. They began to bring their friends to show them this special place. And their friends brought their friends.

Then it happened that some of the younger men who came to visit the monastery started to talk more and more with the old monks. After a while one asked if he could join them. Then another. And another. So within a few years the monastery had once again become a thriving order and, thanks to the rabbi’s gift, a vibrant center of light and spirituality in the realm.

Author Unknown

To me this story is a lesson that we can all benefit from. If only we all treated each other and ourselves with ultimate respect, if we truly treasured each other — how wonderful would the world be?

Namastae

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Brynne’s Daily Drawing #36

#36

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The Three Most Important Things in Life

KINDNESS: [Kind • ness]

Noun

  1. The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate:
    He thanked them for their kindness and support.
  2. A kind act:
    It would be a kindness on your part to invite her.

Lily-BBlog Post #6

I just signed up to be a RAKtivist at the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. Also known as ‘RAK’, the Foundation, encourages the spread of kindness throughout communities and neighbourhoods  — everywhere — in the belief that benevolence can change the world.

What is a RAKtivist, you ask? Raktivist stands for Random Acts of Kindness activist. Basically, someone who is kind to others. Someone like you!

Acting with kindness is beneficial — being kind makes you feel good and it makes others feel good, too.

Watch this scientist talk about his research into kindness and its effect upon the brain.

Watch this video: The Science of Kindness by Live Vest Inside

I want to consciously spread kindness as much as I can. I think I’m fairly good at it already, but I want to do more acts of kindness, purposefully, and with intention.

There are any number of lists on the internet that offer ideas on ways to perform acts of kindness, big and small. Having a list reinforces my desire to carry out random acts of kindness and helps me come up with new ways to be kind.

Here is a list 10 of my favourite ideas:

  1. Bring cut up fruit or another healthy treat to the office  to share with your co-workers.
  2. Reach out to a friend or relative that you haven’t seen in a while with an invitation to get together
  3. Post inspirational sticky notes around your neighborhood, office, or school
  4. Purchase an extra bag of dog or cat food and take it to an animal shelter.
  5. Smile and say hello to three people you pass in the street.
  6. Pay a compliment to a stranger while you’re standing in a line or the cashier as you’re paying your bill
  7. Text, Tweet or Facebook a positive message to three people right now.
  8. Pay for someone’s lunch when no one is watching — for a friend a co-worker or, even a stranger
  9. Send a gratitude email to a coworker who deserves more recognition.
  10. Write your partner a list of things you love about them.

As Henry James said, “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”

Check out these Kindness sites:

365 Days of Kindness

Kindness Blog

Kindspring

Random Acts

What random of acts of kindness do you like to do? Share them in the comment section, I’d love to hear from you!

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Brynne’s Daily Drawing #06

#06