I can't believe that it is my birthday already. A year of planning and dreaming what could be has come and gone in a flash and I am sitting here accepting the facts.
I had big ambitions and even BIGGER dreams of what could be this month as I set out to live 30 Days of Kindness and raise money to spend on helping and serving others as a gift to myself for my 30th birthday. I set a goal to raise money and hopefully help some unsuspecting people in need but what I didn't plan for was a roller coaster month of struggles, challenges, distractions, sadness, happiness, and a month jam packed full of life lessons I will never forget!
I decided to press pause on today to sit down and document the lessons I learned these last short weeks as the end of my birthday gets closer and closer, literally by the minute. Here are the five lessons I've learned before my birthday”
It costs absolutely NOTHING to serve others.
When I planned to raise money I genuinely thought that the sky was the limit and that donations would come rolling in! I thought that if everyone donated at least $1 dollar we could get to $30k in just one day! Ha! I am silly and think wild and passionate thoughts sometimes that are very far from reality. After a week went by and I hadn't even raised $1000 I was discouraged, embarrassed, resentful, frustrated, and defeated. I had the longest list of things I wanted to do for people which all cost money, I felt stuck without having the funds to do them. Then, by divine timing a friend sent me a video about giving that was absolutely profound to me.
I won't spoil the video but the message was the wake up call I needed. It made me realize that sometimes the people who have the least are willing to give the most. I have everything and more I could ever ask for and therefore I have plenty to give.
Yes, paying for someone's meal or even someone's medical bills could be very impactful and inspiring but so is just taking the time to listen to someone having a hard day, smiling to everyone you see, a gentle hand squeeze to someone who is suffering.
There are endless human gestures and acts of kindness that are absolutely 100% free to give. I've challenged myself to pay close attention for opportunities to serve others with monetarily free but emotionally rich acts of charity, this lesson alone as been a special gift for me to learn.
When you make a decision to do good, opposition will try to stop you.
It seemed like the moment I pressed publish on my campaign to raise money and publicly solicit kindness it was like I had painted a big red proverbial target on my back. I'm not kidding you about the random and unwavering amounts of obstacles and challenges that started lining up at my door on August 1st. From very small mishaps, to large emotionally draining conflicts, I felt a physical sense of downpour of challenges and distractions.
About a week into the 30 days I had declared that I was giving up and threw a rather embarrassing childish pity party for myself. My husband came home while I was in the throws of verbalizing my resolve to relinquish my birthday dream and renew my account with Hulu instead. He gave me one fat slice of humble pie and called my bluff. In short he simply asked me if I was surprised that I was facing so many struggles shortly after setting out to change the world in 30 short days? I had to take some time to let the magnitude of his question set in.
My attitude had been that God would be happy and appreciate my efforts to do good and because of his approval it would be easy…. what I FAILED to remember is that Satan will devote all his power to prevent us and slow us down from doing good in the world.
It was an “I get it!” moment when I realized that my public declaration to do 30 Days of Kindness was me essentially penciling myself in on Satan's personal hit list. After thinking about this I gathered myself and decide if I am going to be on the enemy's radar I want to be the biggest and brightest target out there so he is not mistaken on my intentions to dig my heels in and give it all I got. I am reminded of The Fellowship of the Unashamed that I memorized when I was a teenager.
“I am a part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed. The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap giving and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, love with patience, live by prayer and labor with power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable and my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, let up or slow up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up and spoken up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner is clear: I am a part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.”
The Sunday after this experience my kids and I wore red to church as a subliminal message that my declaration of kindness still stands and I will not be stopped. Neener, neener!
Giving is physiologically good for you.
I listened to this talk by Simon Sinek earlier this month where he talks about Oxytocin and behaviors that cause your body to produce Oxytocin. Oxytocin is what doctors call “the bliss hormone”, it's a chemical that is released through physical contact, kind words, or acts of human generosity.
Did you know that lots of Oxytocin in your body inhibits addiction, boosts your immune system, reduces stress, increases you ability to solve problems, increases creativity and can ultimately make you live longer?
In more recent studies (2010 to now) doctors have discovered that Oxytocin even influences what goes on in the digestive system. Oxytocin can cool down gastrointestinal inflammation which can improve some serious disorders related to food sensitivities and autoimmune disorders.
Oxytocin is also what bonds two people together in a relationship (parent, child, sibling, friend, romance, etc), it's the surge you get when someone gives you a hug or when mommy kisses a boo boo. It's the epitome of the “warm and fuzzies” and when we feel those warm and fuzzies it chemically enhances our sense of optimism, trust, and self esteem. Those are all good feelings to have so it's no surprise that when we feel that surge of Oxytocin we want to feel it even more. Coincidentally when we perform an act of service (where you sacrifice something of yours , your time, your money etc. and expect nothing in return) you get a HUGE boost of Oxytocin.
Likewise the person you are being charitable towards will also experience a HUGE surge of Oxytocin, and on top of that, anyone who witnesses the charitable act will also experience a surge of Oxytocin. “How about a round of Oxytocin for the house, on me!”
What all this means is that serving others and just plain and simply being nice is unquestionably and biologically good for your health! Feeling sick? Do something for someone else! Feeling stressed? Do something for someone else! Feeling depressed? Do something for something else. Need to kick a habit? Do something for something else! You get the idea!
Being kind towards others will absolutely improve your attitude and physical well being, I believe that with my whole heart. You don't need a reason to help people, but it doesn't hurt when there are universal and biological perks to doing good.
Real life stories can weigh you down or they can motivate you to work harder.
I've gotten some letters from readers and friends about stories of loved ones and complete strangers all going through very different but very difficult struggles right now. It's easy to be overcome with sadness as the severity and magnitude of each of their circumstances comes to light. The helplessness I feel weighs heavily on me when I struggle to think “what can me (one person) do to help them, to save them, to heal them?”.
The perspective is welcomed every time as I realized with each story just how truly blessed I sincerely am to the point where I feel guilty because I know I do not deserve all that I have. Those stories are an unyielding reminder that somewhere in the world there will be people out there who would love to be in my shoes, experiencing my problems. Those people have no food, no home, no family, and I have it all. I can't help but feel responsible to do something to lessen someone else's burdens.
With great blessings comes great responsibility. I know and I believe that God doesn't give us blessings because we deserve them or earned them, when he gives us things and allows us to be financially, emotionally, or physically wealthy (because those are all endowments not entitlements) then he expects us to use those gifts for the benefit of others.
“God bless all who endeavor to be their brother’s keeper, who give to ameliorate suffering, who strive with all that is good within them to make a better world. Have you noticed that such individuals have a brighter smile? Their footsteps are more certain. They have an aura about them of contentment and satisfaction … for one cannot participate in helping others without experiencing a rich blessing himself.”
– Thomas S. Monson
Things don't always turn out the way we want them to but they always turn out the way they are supposed to.
Truthfully I have been sulking and avoiding and even dreading today. I planned to raise a lot of money and have an elaborate line up of extreme acts of kindness to share with all of you. I'm sincerely disappointed that I don't have this long checklist of great things I was able to do for people. I definitely feel like I have let you down in a way and that I have failed but I am trying to fight that feeling of failure and keep fighting to make a difference.
I may not have been able to raise $30,000 and my website may have been down most of the month but that's just life, it doesn't mean I give up or that I failed. Yes, this month is almost over but I can keep on trying, keep on giving, and keep on serving, there is no deadline on service and you can't max out on kindness. At the end of the day all I ever wanted for my birthday was to inspire as many people as possible and make a difference. IDK if the impact I had anticipated has been fulfilled just yet but I guess as long as I am still living then there is still time to make a bigger dent in this world.
“If you're not making someone's life better, you're wasting your time! ”
I Love this quote from Will Smith, he always tells it like it is and honestly, he is so right. I love the simplicity and power of that one sentence. I don't want my time to be wasted, I don't want my birthday to go uncelebrated, I don't want my attitude to go unchecked, that's why I will be out there today doing my thing and advocating kindness. Whippy Cake out! (if I had a mic I would drop it right now…)
If you want to celebrate with me for my birthday you can still donate [HERE] or share your acts of kindness with me in a comment below! Thank you so much for your love and support, I am so thankful that you guys continue to support and inspire me. Love you!