1 – Do Something Small
“A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.” -Anthony Trollope
I begin this reflection with a quote from a 19th century English author named Anthony Trollope as it does a great job of reinforcing the concept of small acts having great significance. Take a minute to re-read it and consider its value in your life, not just in this module.
For me, doing so reminds me of an interview I once did with a newspaper reporter who was writing a story about my online kindness classes. I told her about my belief in the human behavior implications of the “Butterfly Effect,” the concept that something as seemingly insignificant as a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can impact the weather in another part. The flapping wings cause an atmospheric change that then sets off a series of events that ultimately leads to something significant. She mentioned this in her final article which, incidentally, set off a chain of publicity for these classes that very possibly is part of the chain which brought you to this website.
When I’ve offered this theme in my “live” classes, it generates a lot of dialogue. Many people participate thinking I’m going to suggest grand acts of kindness, something more global in scope. Yet I prefer helping people go inside themselves and this theme is a great way to do it. So don’t worry about how profound, significant or large your actions are. Just let them come from a place inside yourself that is filled with positive excitement. Let whatever you do radiate out from that place. As a class member once said, “Many traditions teach that giving $1 from the heart is better than giving $10 begrudgingly. If we give reluctantly, our good feeling is diminished. If we give from love, the good feeling connects us to ‘spirit.'”
I’ve also had participants struggle with being fully anonymous. I encourage you to not let the anonymity component of this game get in the way of an opportunity that presents itself to you. I’m the founding director and for 24 years served as Executive Director of the Puget Sound Community School, an innovative middle & high school in Seattle. There are few rules at the school but many principles, and the few rules that do exist are there to bring structure to the principles. I told our students that it is always okay to break a rule as long as they honored the principle(s) behind it. This would require them to be mindful and to not fool themselves, which usually took some practice and guidance, but which always ended with added maturity and awareness.
I offer you the same guidance here. The “anonymity rule” was put in place to provide a structure for us to better experience the results of performing kind acts when the possibility of doing so for show or reward is greatly reduced. If you know in your heart that you are performing an act of kindness from a genuinely loving place and not just to show off, be your act fully anonymous or in front of a Super Bowl-sized crowd, you are honoring the principle of this module.
NEXT STEP: Theme #2