Monday, March 7, 2011

29 Day Giving Challenge- Week 1

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!



Jo said...

Wow, a "circle" sounds awful. Sorry about your toe!
As far as giving, I feel that often times, it's the little things that count. They can really make all the difference. I love what you're doing!

Anait said...

"you can spend an hour watching tv or an hour changing the world".....what a great phrase, and so true, too. If I think of all the time I waste in my life doing mindless things, it's a bit scary honestly. good for you for doing little things!

Sara Louise said...

I love the little things because they take so little to do, but can make such a big, happy difference!

Tiq said...

This is really inspiring. So beautifully written. I need to be reminded all the time about things like this as sometimes I would have just get carried away with my own thing. Definitely one of my favourite post !!
Love it !!!!!

Jessica said...

I love this post. And I Love what you are doing. I really do need to make the same steps - I feel like New York is so chock-a-block full of people, everyone just tends to themselves, but it certainly would teach a little life lesson in kindness if I took the first step. Thanks for the inspiration!

Krysten @ After 'I Do' said...

I love this post, so inspiring and well written!

Sophia's Lover said...

Sizzling hot chocolate
and coffee with a dash of liquer.
A snowfall
winter in paris
chocolate chaux en hiver
ballet slippers hanging from
the ballet bars
a grammophone left playing
while no ones in the room.


becky said...

I think giving time is one of the greatest virtues known. And so is lending an ear---I have been watching a documentary on education quite recently, and I have realised, more and more, how fundamental it is for people to have the opportunity to speak; how it comforts them but also allows them to find themselves. I think saying things out loud is probably why blogging has become so influential---it is giving people voices to those who want to listen and with that, we learn about ourselves. We understand our fears or our flaws just as much and as easily as we come to realise who we want to be and the things that really, really make us tick.

Don't feel bad about the Sunday--at all. It seems like you have more than made up for it and as the weeks go by, will continue to do so. Talking to people on buses/trains etc is always something I want to do---I want to help but I suppose my English shyness (it really, really does exist!) prohibits it more than I would like. You have inspired me to change that and I thank-you. (I am looking into volunteering too!)

I don't think focusing on one's self is a bad thing, by the way. You've shown, by wanting to do this in the first place, that working on you means working for others. That is the sign of a good soul :)

Brandi {not your average ordinary} said...

Oh my golly, this is brilliant. And I suddenly feel horribly lazy and inadequate. I need to figure things out on the bigger level for myself. I think we need to be happy to help others be happy, but what what we need to be happy aren't always the huge things we think we need. I've been selfish lately -- I've been focusing on school more than focusing on how I can help (though I do hope I do that with my blog).

Kimbirdy said...

yay! i'm so happy you've found little ways to give back. it definitely wasn't always easy for me when i was doing this, and i totally understand what you said about how you were so busy looking for your own happiness that you lost sight of what was really important. i experienced the same thing. honestly, i think the biggest gift i got from giving was learning to be less self-centered. which makes me think i should do this again since i'm becoming more concerned with ME again. it's so inspiring to see your experience, so thank you for sharing! as for things you could give, maybe you could cook/bake, pick and hand out flowers, send a hand-written letter to a loved one, or offer to do a chore for your husband/friend/co-worker which they really don't want to do? honestly, i think the simplest things make a huge impact!