In my experience, life can be extraordinarily colorful when I step outside of my comfort zone and do things that get my heart racing, my palms sweating, and my head spinning a little bit. There are many actions that elicit at least one of those bodily reactions from me. My body was in shock for an entire month when I moved by myself to Paris, France to pursue a master’s degree. I’m pretty sure my heart rate was off the chart for a whole week when I installed a piece of original art in the local Starbucks. I was shaking with excitement when I volunteered as a barista in the café at my church. Doing uncomfortable things is not necessarily difficult, but overcoming self-doubt and nerves enough to function takes quite a bit of energy, confidence, and effort. However, the end results are usually incredibly rewarding, whether it is personally beneficial or it makes someone else’s day better.
I know from tons of personal experience, that the most effective way to comfortably face the uncomfortable, is to broaden my perspective and consider how my words, facial expressions, and actions will affect other people. Sometimes the scariest actions are those that do not benefit us at all. Openly demonstrating kindness can be very intimidating given that it is impossible to anticipate the responses or consequences of the actions. Holding a door open extra long, offering free babysitting for the neighbor, paying for a stranger’s coffee, standing up for the co-worker who is always gossiped about – these are all simple acts of love that we should integrate more naturally into daily life. Kindness, regardless of the required effort, should be the default and not the exception. Realistically, a life full of kindness does entail that we sacrifice some of our own needs, resources, desires, and energy. However, this sacrifice should be viewed as a reward, rather than a punishment. Providing some level of joy, satisfaction, relief, or security to someone else is a reason to celebrate in our own lives. My personal challenge is to proactively seek out opportunities to show kindness rather than fearfully avoiding occasions to contribute to the lives of others and add value to your own.
ARK Project Now, a non-profit started by four college friends from Purdue University actively challenges people to get out of their comfort zones. Their campaign, Just Do One asks people to commit to completing a single act of random kindness per day, week, or month. The simplicity of their mission is incredibly appealing as it promotes the fact that kindness does not necessarily require a formal plan or a lot of money. All that is needed is a good attitude and the desire to create positivity in the lives of others. This summer, ARK Project Now representatives are traveling 10,000 miles across the United States in an RV, armed with a list of 75+ acts of random kindness to complete over nine weeks. Be sure to follow their adventures on Instagram, Facebook and their blog http://www.arkprojectnow.com/blog/ for new updates and daily inspiration.
*Update on 2/24/2018 ARK Project Now still exists, but their name has changed to Explore Kindness. Check out their updated website & goals https://explorekindness.org/
Title quote by: Eleanor Roosevelt