Random Act of Kindness Challenge

One of the practices I incorporate into my day is random acts of kindness. I’ve been doing a 30 day Random Acts of Kindness Challenge that I think I was introduced to on a Tim Ferriss blog. I started this in November and loved it so much, both in the sense of making me feel good and of course extending acts of kindness to others, that I decided to embark on another month.

The challenge is simply to do one random act of kindness each day. It doesn’t have to be some gargantuan gesture. It might be letting someone go in front of you at the checkout line, smiling at someone or donating to a cause that comes your way during that day.

During the first month I found I would forget. That isn’t to say I am not kind outside of these RAOK (we’ll go with that acronym for short) but I didn’t want it to become a box ticking exercise. It is more around increasing my contribution to others, which is something that I believe to be so central to living a more fulfilled life.

I keep a list in the notes on my phone so that I can see how I am doing and over the month look at the bigger picture.

The second month, however, I found I rarely missed a day. Here are some examples of my RAOK during the past couple of months:

  • Gave my Auntie £20 so that she could stay in the guest room of my grandmother’s care home.
  • Picked up a little girl’s balloon that had blown away and gave it back to her.
  • Bought my daughter a bear when she was feeling poorly.
  • Donated money to a dog charity on top of my bill at the pet shop.
  • Gave my gifts to someone at an event because there weren’t enough to go round.
  • Treated my nephew to a football game ticket.
  • Read the bible to my Grandma.

These are perhaps things you would ordinarily do. However, the fact you are consciously embarking on the challenge is a daily reminder. I’ve found the more random acts of kindness you do, the more opportunities come your way to give them. There are days when there are many and then days when perhaps I have been home for most of it I have to remind myself to give. It isn’t about right or wrong, good or bad, just more of creating this as a daily ritual to practice kindness and contribute to others.

I remember watching a Friends episode where Phoebe tried to find a selfless good deed..it was impossible. Even if you think you aren’t gaining, you are left feeling good, so technically you are benefitting. It makes me smile when I am faced with something during the day and it pops into my mind that it’s another opportunity for a RAOK. The purpose of this is obviously not to receive, but it adds to the joy of your day when your random act of kindness has helped someone, made a difference or impacted positively on another person’s day.

Try it for yourself and let me know how you get on!

The Crazy Chimp

Hello December 🙂 hope you are all enjoying some peace and calm in the run up to the Christmas holidays. What a perfect time to talk about the crazy chimp…

I am reading a book someone recommended me to called, The Chimp Paradox, by Prof Steve Peters, an English psychiatrist who works in elite sport. I am probably only 10% in, but the premise of the book is that our minds are basically operated by two key drivers. Our human and logical self and then an emotional chimp. That in itself sounds crazy, however, it is a simplistic and brilliant way in helping us to understand and manage the way our minds work. 

It is one of those books that you relate to so much that you find yourself nodding or saying out loud how much you agree with it. So relatable and so relevant to our every day thinking and behaviour.

In my meditation recently I have been reminded of the sense of self and the fact that we all interact and experience through our own perceptions. Through the practice of meditation it can become possible to see yourself separately, so that you are almost getting a birds eye view a situation to see that your own perception is often skewed. When you can detach from a situation in this way on a day to day basis, you become much more able to see the perceptions of others in the same way. It isn’t that one person is necessarily wrong or right over another, it is just their perceptions are different. We each come from our own place of thinking, feeling and experiences.  However, understanding this and considering the theory that Steve Peters outlines in his book about the chimp and the way that ‘it’ operates, means you can begin to interact with others in a totally different way. You begin to think and, therefore, act, more on, ‘what is’, rather than what you ‘think’, is. Two very different things; the latter coming from your own skewed perception of what is, which you learn is controlled by the crazy emotional chimp. 

Meditation breathes space, not just into the moments you are practising, but throughout your day. Allowing for pause where you would ordinarily respond and enabling you to consider how to respond to someone or perceive a particular situation. Your perception becomes based on fact, rather than fiction – which is created by our chimp running the show.

When we are present we are not acting on emotion (which is truly what the chimp controls) and causing a REaction. Being present allows us to respond instead or sometimes just choosing not to respond at all, indeed, there is great power in silence. 

Having the choice is the key. We do have control over our perceptions and the way in which we interact with others and experience our world, once we realise how our minds work and our thoughts and perceptions are formed. It doesn’t matter what our understanding is now, or even if we never reach a point of understanding, simply meditating will unravel an inner understanding all of it’s own…we just have to begin and I quote my sister who said, ‘be where your feet are planted.’ The only place that can be is here and now, in the present moment. 

[I’ve had this image for years…bought for a website project I was doing at the time. It depicts being free…when you walk through the door that meditation opens, freedom awaits you on the other side…]