Since it has been a while, I thought I would give an update on the 29 Day Giving Challenge. I started it on the Saturday, as I was going to a music festival and thought that would be the perfect place to hone my giving skills. Unfortunately, that day I also got stuck in a ‘circle’ (for anyone not familiar with that term, it is where a bunch of alcohol/testosterone fueled guys shove each other in a circle while watching a band. Sounds stupid? It is) and broke my toenail in half, which is a stupid minor injury, but I am a gigantic baby and spent the whole day cringing whenever anyone went near my foot. So no giving that day. I am still ashamed.
But I have managed to do it every other day, which makes me feel a little better about missing the Sunday. As I have very little money, almost no possessions apart from clothing, and some lack of creativity lately, I have found it a little difficult. I think that I was just not satisfied enough with doing the little things. I thought somehow I would do something so amazing and dramatic that the whole world would explode with kindness overdose.
But unfortunately, due to my lack of creativity and foresight, the little things it has been. But surprisingly, even though it has only been a week, the little things I have been doing have been making so much more of an impact than I ever thought possible.
Simply paying for the road toll for the car behind ours, giving way, looking after a friend when they most need it, doing lots of little things to show the wonderful people in your life that you appreciate them, kind words for a stranger and giving money to those in need does make such a difference. It is so empowering to know that you have the power to make other’s smile. Even make their day.
And it hasn’t just made a difference to the people I am making smile, but also to myself. Over the course of this week, I have seen such a dramatic difference in the way I am thinking and relating to other people. To be completely honest, sometimes I am a little bit self-centered. Particularly these last few years. I guess my thinking had become more of a ‘what will make me happy’, rather than ‘what will make others happy’. I was so concerned with finding happiness for myself, and becoming the kind of person I want to be, that I forgot to focus on those around me and what is best for them. What they want and need. Which incidentally took me further from the kind of person that I want to be that I ever have been before.
But like I said, this week there has been such a turnaround. And it feels amazing. I have had people open up to me, and a stranger approach me in tutorial, just because she needed someone to listen. When I was 18, this happened to me ALL the time. I would often find myself comforting strangers on the bus, or falling into conversation with people who were down on their luck and needed a friendly ear. I thought this had just stopped happening because I am older, and so maybe look less approachable.
But I think what really happened is that I stopped caring as much. I didn’t want to be approached and so I wasn’t anymore. I makes me sad to think how jaded I became, when I could have been out there making a difference.
This really struck home when I volunteered for Clean Up Australia Day yesterday. I thought I would hate getting up at 7am on a Sunday morning to put on boots and traipse through grasslands picking up rubbish. But I had the most amazing time. I met two of the most lovely, inspiring, caring people who were so naturally giving. Not just on that one day, but every day of their lives. And it was so great to physically see the difference that we were making. As one woman said to me, I could have been sitting at home watching TV for an hour, or I could spend that hour changing the world. Imagine if everyone in the world spent one hour a week volunteering, or cleaning up, or looking after someone in need. How different and amazing and wonderful would the world be? Just a thought.
I can’t wait to see what the next week brings.
And if any of you have any great ‘giving’ ideas, please send them this way!