"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."
This week's challenge is to make a stranger's day better each day.
So simple yet so meaningful. The simplest gesture can turn someone's day around.
This is the first of the weekly challenges that is outside of 'me'....it is about someone else. Do we benefit from making someone's day brighter? Oh yes!
See how much better YOU feel after you:
help someone with a door,
compliment her necklace,
truly listen with a smile after saying 'how are you today?',
hand a homeless man a meal,
bring your wife flowers,
make cookies for an unsuspecting recipient...
Hope you are joining me this week. Let me know how it is going and what new insights you may be finding. I'll check back in this weekend :)
It's the weekend...
Having the extra 'push' in the back of my head to be extra kind to a stranger turned into trying to see how many people I could give an extra hello or compliment to each day. I loved it, and it was especially great to have the push to focus on something outside of myself. Yes, I feel good when I help someone, but it is not about me, it's about them. By helping others, we end up helping ourselves, too. Win-win.
30m each day to WRITE.
Go for it. Breathe, Get your day's thoughts on paper, Type up your hopes and dreams, Write a novel. Whatever it is, check into your creative side and help your brain find some clarity...
I'll check back in this weekend :)
Some more quotes to get you going here.
A week later...
After a week of dedicated daily writing, I want to check back in. Did you write this week? Are you just reading this now and want to start? I recommend it! It was a great weekly challenge. Committing to focus on writing for 30 minutes a day felt soothing, focused, and inspiring.
I also kept thinking about this memory:
My teacher for honors English 2, sophomore year of high school, was Emily Cantilina. She was wonderful. I do admit, however, that I cannot recall many of the plots of the books we read that semester, sorry Mrs. C. I remember a lot of other things, though. Including that I am supposed to find a better word than ‘things’ to utilize in writing….
What stands out the most in my mind to this day was the freewriting she had us do.
Freewriting: (paraphrased definition) When you open your notebook and write anything that comes to mind. Anything at all.
Of course, what is one of the first complaints heard in the room? “I don’t know what to write!”
Our teacher’s response: “Write ‘I don’t know what to write.’ over and over again until something comes to mind.”
So simple, yet so spot on.
Next time you feel the desire to, or just some form of guilt to, write, but don’t know exactly what to write about, try it. You’ll end up getting somewhere beyond that sentence if you keep at it, I guarantee it.
Thanks Mrs. C ;)
Week Four Challenge will begin Monday:
Each day, seek out a positive interaction with a stranger.
I'll write more on this tomorrow....Hope you join me in leaving a stranger happier than when you came across him/her!
My challenge for week two is to devote 10 minutes each day to MEDITATION. Start date: 2/10.
10 minutes may not sound like much, but it is certainly a challenge for me to focus that attention to something like this!
I am using a recommended free resource, INSIGHT TIMER.
This morning, I listened to Jonathan Lehmann's 'Morning Mediation with Music'.
Will report back by the end of the week!
Who is joining me? What resources are you using? Any recommendations?
Here's to a more peace-filled and focused week,
END OF WEEK UPDATE:
Yes, I really enjoyed this challenge. I know meditation has lots of benefits, but it is something I had previously failed to do in this direct capacity. What I mean is, I focus on my breathing while walking around, I pray, I do yoga stretches, etc., but I don’t just sit in a place devoid of distraction and listen to someone talking about breathing and positive affirmations for a devoted 10-minute chunk of time. Until this week!
Anyone else find the moment they try to go to sleep they realize how busy their brains are? I certainly do. The biggest takeaway for me so far has been that these 10-minute chunks of time allow my brain to calm down a bit. I have not been doing the meditation at night, but I am sure that it would help the brain ‘switch off’ so to speak for sleep. Taking a moment during the day, I am finding that it is a nice opportunity for my mind to let things go a bit, calm itself down, therefore calming me down, and feel a bit more focused leading out of it. Also, the focus on breathing deeply for an extended amount of time is so good for us. It energizes us, cleanses the body, and, well, here-- if you are interested in more, let the experts speak.
M: Insight Timer used each day. Searched Jonathan Lehmann, who was recommended to me almost a year ago. ‘Morning Meditation with Music’. I’m a fan. Sat on the bench at the end of my bed with my phone on silent (other than the app of course). I enjoyed that he gave me bits to focus on and think about, otherwise I believe my mind would have been quite scattered.
T: Decided to see what other meditations I could find. Tried ‘Self Love Meditation’ by Clara Wisner.
W: Checked what other meditations Jonathan had. Found ‘Dumbledore Morning Practice’. You don’t have to tell me twice, I’m in. I loved the quote he based this one on:
Th: Tried another again. ‘Learning To Surrender’ by Sarah Blondin. The beauty of these led practices is how one person may speak to you more than another, but vice versa for your friend doing meditation. This one was lovely, but just not for me quite as much as the prior ones I found.
Fri: Today actually came in two parts, as I realized I had such a small window of time before I had to leave. But I decided to do five minutes right then anyway. And then five later. While I was not as calm and re-energized after a full ten, I liked having to challenge myself to stop for two different times in the day ;) Went back to ‘Dumbledore’ ;)
After: I plan to continue this. Will look into other types of guided meditation as well (better for me than on my own ‘just closing my eyes’ for a set time).
How did this go for you? Did you find any guided meditations you can share?
Write for 30 minutes each day.
I find writing soothing and enjoyable, and since it feels like a luxury rather than a necessity, my productivity urge sets in and says, well I have to do XYZ first….which usually turns into, XYZ and QRS and ABC. And there goes the time to write.
But I enjoy it and it is a healthy way to bring calm and focus (seeing a trend with these challenges?)-- so the Week Three Challenge is to WRITE. 30 min minimum.
Who’s in this week? Or do you have a variation on this theme you’d like the impetus to make happen-- perhaps you find enjoyment in yoga but feel it isn’t ‘productive enough’ to add it in to your regular gym workout and work day? Or painting? Or pottery? What is your version of writing?
From the article linked above:
Does Deep Breathing Really Do Anything?
Deep Breathing FundamentalsWhen you take a deep breath in, your heart rate quickens slightly. As you exhale, your heart rate slows. Repeated deep breaths will naturally bring your heart rate more in sync with your breath. This leads your brain to release endorphins, which are chemicals that have a natural calming effect. But if you’re stuck shallow breathing, that endorphin release doesn’t happen.
It’s no coincidence that deep breathing is the groundwork in so many types of meditation. This calming effect can be so significant that there’s research linking meditation to a reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms; as well as improved sleep and focus. And it all comes back to the breath.
But that’s not all that happens.
Meditation and the BrainSome studies show that meditation can change the structure of our brains and improve neuroplasticity. This could be due to the fact that the brain is so oxygen dependent, using 20% of the body’s oxygen supply. And just like any other body part, if it doesn’t get what it needs, symptoms can manifest. So, a deficit in oxygen could cause you to feel foggy, unfocused, or on edge.
None of this is to say that taking a few deep breaths now and then will cure your depression, but more so this type of breathing practice might stand to be a useful coping tool for lessening symptoms for a range of issues.
If you’re ready to give deep breathing practice a try but you don’t know where to start, here are a couple of options you can try right at home.
For five days straight, do an additional something that may be beneficial to my well-being.
I’m doing an experiment. Each week setting a new, small challenge, a dose of something potentially beneficial for my well-being, and each weekday doing this new challenge. Five days straight of whatever it is. Five days isn’t that long, it is just a dose to try out this challenge and see what happens...then if it is a step in a positive direction, those five days may become more….and perhaps inspire you, too!
Watch for the update each Sunday, as well as what the next week’s challenge is going to be. Let me know if you have suggestions!
For this week, I made a commitment to go to workout right away upon waking each morning.
Why? I workout daily, but sometimes I start working and let my day get away from me too much, then find I do just a quick workout later on, antsy all the while before it. When I get the workout in early, my mind and energies are more focused. When I let so much of the day pass before hitting the gym, I end up feeling scattered during work and frustrated that I did not begin the day with exercise to get that blood flowing and the endorphins going!
The challenge for me lies in actually getting there right away. When I wake up, what my body wants to do is sit with coffee and open articles to read, not to jump around. I used to teach first thing in the morning, really early, and, as hard as it was to get up that early, it really did give me an amazing boost to start the day. I always left the workout feeling great. Now that I often have mornings working from home, it is tempting to wait to work out...but then I am not as focused, not as energized, AND have a tendency to snack much more…
Five Days Later:
So how does it feel after consistently working out first thing each morning?
Confirmed, energy and focus better. Also, there is no stress about trying to fit in a workout at other times. The not-as-positive parts include an anxiety of ‘I have to’ make it there asap, and not getting as strong a workout because of my body still in a sleepy, tired mode.
Recommendation? Totally get to the gym asap-- BUT, asap can mean slightly different things. I’d like to say, within the first hour or so of waking. I know this isn’t possible with every person’s schedule, of course. If your body needs the first cup of coffee to ease into the morning and you can spare that time or wake up a bit earlier to make it happen, do it. If you don’t have much morning time, I would definitely recommend JUST GETTING SOMETHING GOING. My body and brain feel so much better after a workout, and, for me, it is always better to get something in, be it a ‘big’ workout or ‘small’ one, first thing in the morning.
Disclaimer: Some people have been working out at lunch or in the evenings for years and are happy with that schedule. If that works for you, keep that going! Each person is different, and there tend to be ‘morning workout-ers’ and ‘later on workout-ers’, to give the technical terms, obviously. I am in the former category, and need that boost early on to begin the day on the right foot. What it all comes down to? MOVING YOUR BODY DAILY. Whatever schedule works out for you :)
Challenge I am planning is to do a 10-min meditation every day. While this sounds easy to some, I’m sure, I have been avoiding trying this for years-- Why can I get lost in articles for 20 minutes, but the idea of closing everything for 10 sounds so hard? Exactly why I need this to be my next challenge.
If anyone wants to try this with me, let me know! I am planning on using an app that has been recommended to me: Insight Timer.
Have a fabulous week,
Be. By Kate.
Be your best self. One step at a time.