One could say I have been existing in a vegetative state over the last few days. Oddly, the open week I’ve had, both at work and at home, has caused some sort of breakdown between my brain and my body. I’ll think of something to do, to write, to say, and it seems by the time my brain has sent that message to my limbs a fog has descended. My mind is working over time thinking of all of the things that I’ve wanted to accomplish, I’ll even go as far as preparing for action, and…nothing.
I wouldn’t even categorize the last few days as bad days. I’ve smiled, laughed, gotten a few things done, relaxed, and visited with some of my favorite people. So, in an effort to force the fog to lift, I’m going to finally finish this post, which I have started a remarkable six times. I may or may not say profound, thoughtful things. There’s no telling what’s in store for you, especially if I decide to take another 37 minute break in between paragraphs.
There has always been an anxiety living inside of me that comes to a head when I have unplanned interactions and conversations with people I am not fully comfortable with. An odd fear of small talk, awkward pauses in conversation, ruining a first impression, or just being put in a situation where I have no exit strategy. I enjoy spending time with myself, being able to process the thoughts in my head, taking time to be creative, recharging my batteries, disconnecting from the outside world, and just focusing on my inner circle of family and friends. A true introvert I am. I don’t hate people, I am not cold, bitchy, rude, or withdrawn. Lately, it seems as though being an introvert is very trendy. Hipsters across the land are wearing their skinny jeans, plugging their ears with iPhone earbuds, whining about their social anxiety. Finally! I am on trend! This is one of those instances when a sarcasm font would be most helpful.
Two weeks ago, Niki announced the task at hand for week four of the Kindness Challenge: take your kindness to others. It’s not like I hadn’t expected for the challenge to include some practice at some point, but I just wasn’t as excited as in previous weeks. I wanted to practice being kind, but it is so out of character for me to go out of my way to do some random acts of kindness, or what I was picturing as big, dramatic gestures for people I don’t necessarily know. I wanted to do something that I knew I could maintain, because, after all, is that the point to doing something like this? To think think about what kindness means to you, and to find ways to incorporate it into your life in a way that allows you to keep it flowing through your daily life? Maintenance is the goal.
In true introvert fashion, I thought about my options, imagined what my week looked like and what was most practical to set myself up for success. Sometimes it’s exhausting to be so introspective (and trendy). I decided I wanted to focus more on incorporating kindness to others in the form of eye contact, greetings, and just general positive interactions that I normally would not think to initiate.
“Your mission, should you choose to accept it”…
It wasn’t difficult, incredibly easy, actually. It’s not hard to just be nice to people, to hold a door open, to surrender your seat in a crowded waiting room, to stay the extra minute to listen to a story, to make eye contact and genuinely ask someone how their day is going. What was more striking is how doing those things actually made me more happy and kind to myself as I went through my week. That stream of kindness that I was putting out into the universe boomeranged back to me in the form of reciprocation. It’s human nature to be kind to those that are kind to you. The cycle just keeps going. It was oddly comforting to know that you can put just as much energy into being kind to others as you can being kind to yourself, but when you’re focusing on pushing that outward, you get something in return. Two birds, one stone.
This week, Kindness Challengers are encouraged to practice gratitude for the kind things that others have done throughout the week. I already know what I’m going to share with you from this week. I better get started now, as at this point it may take me a week to tell you the story.