“Friendship doubles our joy and divides our grief.” — Swedish Proverb
On the surface this may not seem remarkably different from last week’s theme but in practice it is intended to be. This week it is important to choose someone who is close to you in the present, someone you see on a regular basis. This need not be a family member, but it also can be. In all cases, choose someone you already know well, someone with whom you’ve gotten along well over time AND someone with whom you’ve been annoyed. This should be a person in your life who has seen you at your best and at your worst, someone with whom your friendship has stood the test of time. This is what I mean by “a good friend.”
Begin the week by simply considering the friend you’ve chosen for a few minutes a day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Do nothing more than this, just taking the time to think about your friend. Allow your thoughts to carry you where they will. If they drift from your friend, bring them back. Then, through this consideration, allow an idea for a kind action you can do for your friend to surface. As is true each week, this need not be anything “big.” It is important that it be simple and mindful.
Having decided on your action, complete it. If you are inclined, summarize it for the rest of us in the comments section below, keeping your summary concise yet complete.
Okay, I’m a little early with completing my kindness act this week.
I had decided on Monday that the person I chose was my brother. He is the person that I have had the most volatile relationship with. We were not close growing up due to very significant differences in personality. Then 2 years ago we had a very upsetting misunderstanding and stopped speaking. In the last few months we have become very close – closer than we have ever been.
So I spent Monday and Tuesday holding him in my thoughts. I woke up suddenly at 4am this morning (Wednesday morning),and I knew what I wanted to do for him.
He is currently looking after his 2 young children while his fiancée is away working for 2 weeks. I decided the kindest thing I could do for him was to make him dinner. Something he could heat up quickly for himself, his toddler, and his young baby son.
It was really the first kind act I have done for him. I have dedicated my whole life to kindness, and do this daily for others. However I have struggled to have an open heart and extend the same kindness to him due to our past differences.
This was such a great opportunity to turn that around.
I am sure he appreciates your efforts. I have recently become closer to my three siblings and it is such a blessing in my life! I wish you the best with your brother.
Thank you so much Linda :-). I am discovering just what a blessing it is to have close ties with family. It’s so beautiful.
The act I chose was not to become stressed out by a visit from my husband’s parents (the kindness act was for my husband). He is very close to his parents and I have grown very fond of them as well. But sometimes leading up to a visit from them, I usually go into such a frenzy of cleaning and cooking and wanting everything to be perfect that I am exhausted by the time the visit rolls around and I have a hard time relaxing and enjoying myself. My actions stress out my husband too. He has tried to help me relax, but I have had a hard time doing so.
When he asked about them coming to visit this weekend, my first reaction was to start feeling panicky and I started making a list in my head of everything I needed to do before they came. I do not like the way this reaction makes me feel and for the first time (perhaps because of some of the self-compassion reading and work I have done through this blog), I felt empowered to change it. My in-laws were bringing up a beautiful desk for our son that my father-in-law had built and I realized how ungrateful my first reaction to their visit was. I vowed to focus on feeling gratitude instead and that helped me to let the stress go. Also, thinking of my change in attitude as a gift to my husband made it easier for me to overcome the stress. In truth, it is also good for my well being and for the whole family not to have me in panic mode!
They came yesterday and brought that gorgeous desk with them. We spent the day reorganizing our son’s room and enjoying one another’s company. I didn’t have a lot of time to clean before they came, but I did not worry about the state of the house. It was tidy enough to feel comfortable, and a layer of dust never hurt anyone. I managed not to stress about the food. In fact, I wasn’t able to get groceries the day before and was out grocery shopping when they got here. My mother-in-law and the kids helped put away the groceries and they pitched in with cooking. Not insisting on doing everything myself or that everything be perfect allowed me to slow down and take joy in the wonderful relationship we have with my husband’s parents. And he thanked me for not being stressed out.
I had some of the same problems when I was younger. Feeling that the house had to be clean, making sure there was not only plenty to eat but something that looked like I had made an effort. Mostly I just worked myself up to a frenzy of cleaning and shopping before they came, just like you, but I realized I DID not want them to come. IT was too much work, I am so glad for you that you have seen a new path and hopefully can continue on it and enjoy having them come, even it you all have to go out for lunch or supper.
Well, I see that at 68 I still have the same problem with having neighbors over. We live on a lake in the summer and I got to the point where I did not want to have a party for even two other couples because it was too much work between cleaning the house and preparing food. I finally found a way to make this happen after a couple of years of not inviting people over, despite being invited to their house. I just decided that a spontaneous get together at the dock where finger foods and drinks coud be serverd was good enough. I did not worry so much about the house, everyone was happy to bring something and we had a blast sitting on the dock until dusk. I was the only one to go in swimming, but next time I will get them in the water too!
Congratulations on your progress. You have made a very positive step for your self and the ones you love. We do have to take care of ourselves, as Andy says!!!!
Thanks for your support, Linda! I amglad I’m not the only one working through feelings like these. I like your solution of a dock party – that’s perfect! And the sunset swimming sounds lovely (and stress-relieving)! Thanks again for the positive comments. We are all works in progress, aren’t we? 🙂
That’s a really amazing act of kindness. For yourself, your husband, and your children.
And I can so much relate to that. I’ve done that so often in my life – stressed myself out (and tired myself out!) trying to get the house exactly the way I wanted it before guests arrived. In the end though I realised – they didn’t notice how spotless the house was. But they did notice how on edge I was.
Now I don’t worry, and it makes life so much more enjoyable 🙂
Thank you! You know, the more I think about it, the clearer it is that the guests at our house clearly would care much more about being in the company of someone who is happy to see them and not stressed out, rather than someone who worked and worked to make the house and meal “just perfect.” Thanks for your supportive words. What a neat group of people on this blog! I am happy to take part.