While my 30 Day Christmas Challenge may officially be over, the effect it has had on me has not ended…and I hope it never will. Simply stated, this past month has changed me. It’s changed the way I look at people…and myself.
And while I’ve learned so much over the past four weeks, I wanted to summarize a few of the main lessons that will stay with me.
The 5 big lessons that I learned in 30 days…
- It’s not about what you do…it’s about what you DO. I have a confession: there have been times when I feel a bit inadequate compared to some of my friends. They’re doctors, teachers, nurses, lawyers. They’ve traveled to other countries to help the poor. They’re doctors for the homeless. They’ve started non-profits to help orphans in Nepal. (Yes, I know…I have incredible friends!) In short, they help people and do amazing things. Then there’s me. And what do I do? I write brochures. I create sales programs. I manage marketing projects for an IT company. But here’s what I realized, it doesn’t matter what you do for your career, what really matters is what you DO to help others. No matter what your job may be, whether you’re a marketing director, a stay at home mom, a waitress or a surgeon…we all have the opportunity to help someone everyday. These 30 days have proved to me that I have the power to make the world better…one person, one act of kindness at a time. And so do you.
- Kindness can transform ordinary into extraordinary. Sometimes I’d think about how I would have spent my time if I wasn’t doing my 30 Day Christmas Challenge. Likely I would have woken up, gone to work, enjoyed dinner with my family, played with my kids and chatted with the hubs before going to bed. My days would have been fine…they would have been like every other day. But instead, each day this month was truly was remarkable. I got to meet amazing people like Ruth from the retirement home and Nichole from the hospital’s ICU. Without my challenge I wouldn’t have had the chance to see a team of retail workers freak out when I brought them goodies or hear the gratitude in my favorite childhood teacher’s voice when I told her decades later how much she meant to me. I would have missed out on those conversations and experiences. By helping others, each day was fun…and ANYTHING BUT ordinary.
- Sometimes kindness requires creativity. There were days when I knew exactly what I wanted to do and who I wanted to help. But there were other days, when I had to search…when I had to get creative. For me it almost became a game. I would go on with my day, but my eyes were somehow open wider. I took the time to actually LOOK at people. I would search for the right time, the right person to help. And that’s the thing about kindness…once you make a point to think about it on a regular basis, inspiration will find you.
- That it doesn’t have to be Christmas for you to feel Christmas magic. The truth is Christmas magic comes from kindness. No matter what the calendar may say, I guarantee that if you do something nice for someone else, surprise someone else….it will feel like Christmas not only to them, but to you as well.
- Kindness truly is contagious…and the world needs more of it. While I initially had hesitations about telling others about my 30 Day Christmas Challenge, I’m so glad that I did. I think it’s easy to get bogged down with bad news, the economy, political debates, crime. Sometimes we need to be reminded that the world is filled with so much more good. I know that my acts of kindness were not monumental actions on their own, but I think that’s the real beauty. Simple, every day acts of showing kindness to others…yes, the world needs more of this. My goal was to provide inspiration, to give you ideas for acts of kindness that you may want to complete as well. And to me, this is the best legacy that I could ever create. It’s what I want to teach my kids. It’s how I hope I’m remembered.
Someone once asked me if I ever got tired of doing the acts everyday…did it feel like a chore, something I HAD to do, a box to check each day? Honestly, it never felt like that…not once. This was something that I looked forward to doing every single day. It made me happy. And it made me feel like I was making a difference…even if it was a small one.
It’s Christmas morning. And while this is day #31 (meaning my 30 day challenge is technically over), I still wanted to do do an act of kindness…after all, isn’t that what Christmas is really about? How fitting though, that my last act of kindness would not completed by me.
I made a passing comment to my husband a few days before Christmas. “I feel really bad for people who have to work on Christmas. We get to spend the day with family, but for someone else, it’s just another day at work. Maybe I should do something fun for someone who’s working at a gas station on Christmas morning.”
And that was all it took. Kindness is contagious.
Here’s what happened…
Christmas morning was so much fun. We opened all the gifts Santa delivered and later went to my mom’s house for breakfast and more Christmas fun. By mid-morning we were back home, already gearing up for our next Christmas party that would begin in a few hours. My husband wanted to go on a quick run, a small effort to try and work off a few calories from all the food we’d enjoyed.
When he came back he said, “Your act of kindness…it’s been completed.” I lifted my eyebrow and asked him what he did. On his run, he stopped by the gas station and made a purchase. He asked the attendant for 2 gift cards. After paying, he simply slid the gift cards back to the attendant and said, “Merry Christmas“. Yes, indeed…merry Christmas.
The richest man (or woman) in town…
My all time favorite movie is It’s a Wonderful Life. No matter how many times I watch it, the tears are inevitable. At one point in the movie Clarence says something to George that always stands out to me: “Each man’s life touches so many other lives.” And that’s really how I feel about this month. I love the fact that I was able to help others…some who were strangers and some who I will never even know. But I was able to leave a mark on their life…and in turn, they left one on mine.
While I named this my “30 Day Christmas Challenge”, I believe the real challenge is to remember those five lessons every day…to constantly look for opportunities for kindness…to continue find ways to help others and to always remember that yes, it IS a wonderful life.