8 August 2015
In 2012 I started taking classes with Northeastern, an online program in sports leadership. One of the requirements of the program is to attend a week-long class on campus in Boston. The room I was in was furnished with a bed, desk, shower, towel, and sheets. There wasn’t much to keep me occupied in the dorm room, so I explored the city by foot as often as I could. Every morning I would walk down to Starbucks- in part to get a walk before class and in part to get a fresh cup of coffee.
This is how I met Joe. He was standing on the sidewalk carrying a neon colored poster board. I’m not sure what the sign said but something compelled me to stop and ask the man on the street a question. Joe shared his story. He was a trucker but he could no longer drive. He had knee replacement surgery but there was a recall on the parts they used on his knee. Joe needed a second surgery on his knee so he could go back to work.
31 December 2013
New Year’s Eve.
We stayed at home this year but stayed up until midnight to watch the ball drop. Jane Lynch was a guest on one of the television stations. The host asked her what she planned on doing in 2014. She said she wanted to be more kind.
1 January 2014
The words Jane Lynch said sparked an idea. Spend a year doing one kind thing each day. In my head I already fast- forwarded to December 31, 2014. I was getting congratulations from Ellen and the Today show for my major accomplishment.
The idea was good to do something kind every day, but I lost focus.
Some days I did something, some days, I wrote down what I did, some days I decided I would just take a break.
I scrapped my plan. I continued to do kind things as often as I could, but I needed a new strategy.
1 January 2015
Last year I messed up. My plan to do one kind thing each day got derailed. I probably overshot the target. In my head a kind thing was akin to a grand gesture. I needed to start a non-profit organization, obliterate homelessness, or clean up the entire ocean. I thought kindness was about donating large sums of money or buying Christmas presents for an orphanage.
Kindness is less about stuff and more about connection. Kindness is about seeing people, listening to people, and being present as much as it is about the big stuff. Kindness is an action, something you do.
1 January 2015 “Way to start out the New Year with something kind. Beach clean up with Clean Ocean Access. Brrrrr…….cold day.”
7 January 2015 “Kind thing today stopped at the crosswalk to let someone go. It was snowing and 25.”
15 January 2015 “Kind thing today led a yoga class for my work buddies.”
22 January 2015 “Kind thing today fixed a cup of coffee for Jim.”
Most of the things I did were small. They were generally unnoticed by anyone but me. But I took the time each day to do something. Also I learned from my lack of commitment in 2014, I needed to have a better way of documenting my actions. I used an application on my phone- Momento. There were nights when I would lie in bed and realize I forgot to make an entry. I would get out of bed, find my phone, and make sure I put something in there.
February 1, 2015 “Kind thing today someone dropped their money and I picked it up and returned it to them.”
February 7, 2015 “Kind thing today held the door open at the farmer’s market so a lady with a stroller could get through.”
February 16, 2015 “Kind thing today sent some books to my mom.”
Things tend to be fun in the beginning. You have energy, you are excited about what you are doing. But as the weeks and months go by instead of being fun it can become a chore. And when you are in a bad mood because work sucks or things aren’t going your way it can become difficult to spend your precious energy doing something for someone else. Even if it is just a small, kind gesture.
3 March 2015 “Kind thing today listened.”
The winter was tough. Lots and lots of snow. Lots of shoveling snow.
4 March 2015 “Kind thing today gave someone a ride to the gym.”
Not only was winter long but I wasn’t having fun at work.
19 March 2015 “Kind thing today brought soup home.”
As the winter marched on I realized I was not happy. And during this time I admit I struggled to continue. Some days I had to get creative about doing something kind. Most days I wanted to quit but I was determined to finish what I started.
8 April 2015 “Kind thing today shared my soup with Kia.”
17 April 2015 “Kind thing today brought a burger home for Jim.”
Connection was an important part of the year.
21 April 2015 “Kind thing today made dinner.”
Kindness is about seeing what other people need.
26 April 2015 “Kind thing today sent a note to Autumn.”
Kindness is about finding a way to communicate with both people you know and people you just met.
3 May 2015 “Kind thing today said thank you to Mia.”
Kindness is about doing nice things for the people you love.
7 June 2015 “Kind thing today bought my dad a cup of coffee.”
When you spend a year doing kind things for other people things change. You spend less time focusing on your needs and instead focus more on what the people around you need.
11 July 2015 “Kind thing today helped Dave drive the cars to Surf Fest.”
Your perspective of the world can change. You see the people around you, people you may have missed before.
20 July 2015 “Kind thing today introduced ourselves to the Coastie at third beach who was sitting by himself.”
Things become less about you and more people and relationships.
13 August 2015 “Kind thing today took a nap with Jim.”
As the year comes to a close I don’t think I’ve changed. Maybe that is what I expected, to become a new person. Or maybe I just wanted to be a better person. But after doing this for a year I don’t think I am a better person, I can still be a self-centered not so fun person to be around.
What I discovered is that the small things are what really matter. Being there or saying “thank you”.
28 October 2015 “Kind thing today went to lunch with Kinyatta.”
The most important things were the things I did with and for my friends and family.
15 November 2015 “Kind thing today thank you to Jim for taking are of me” (I just had knee surgery).
17 December 2015 “Kind thing today bought Mia a coffee.”
I discovered that sometimes the kindest thing you can do is call.
30 December 2015 “Kind thing today called mom and dad.”
As we close one year and look forward to the next, many people will make resolutions and plans. Often these plans are about becoming the new you- the healthier, skinner, more thoughtful, well-read version of you. I’ve never really been one for resolutions; I prefer the philosophy of Nike- “Just do it.” But as I look back on the kind of year this has been, I might have to resolve to keep going.
We’ll see what kind of year 2016 will be.