Over the past 8 years rather than just giving something up for Lent I’ve tried to do something pro-active to make me a better, more loving person. This has included:
2010-Giving away one category of possessions a day
2011-Continuing to give stuff away including intangibles
2012-Eating on a Food Stamp budget
2013-Creating less waste
2014-Decluttering hidden stuff by pruning a Drawer-a-Day

2015-Trying to buy nothing other than food
2016-Clearing paper clutter from my desk and obsolete paper from file cabinets
2017-Cleaning my mind and heart of anger, i.e. Political Conversations

Although my home and heart certainly still have room for more pruning, I’ve been searching for my next step. Lent is a good time to take stock of who I am, how I can become a better human, and start practices that that can become ongoing habits of virtue.

My decision for 2018: Be Kind
This may sound like a fluffy, general, be nice kind of resolution but it stemmed from my self-awareness that I can be overly judgmental, a tightwad, and care too much about what people think of me. Focusing on others is a growing edge I want to foster. I was also prompted by a 10 year old refrigerator note to myself: “BE KIND: Don’t be a Jerk. Honor the Absent, Give the Benefit of the Doubt.” It’s a nice idea, but I hadn’t made much progress toward these ideals.

The challenge will be to go beyond just general, feel good, niceness. I knew I needed to make this goal more deliberate, conscious, and systematic. I want to bring a heightened consciousness to what might initially seem like a very meek goal – just be kind.

THE PLAN: To each day intentionally do something specific, and go out of my way, to be kind:

  1. To another human being. This will probably include continuing to give stuff away to people who need it, but will also include acts of verbal kindness to those I meet in my daily travels (stores, meetings, in traffic, etc.) I already have a few items that I plan to give away, but instead of just waiting for Viet Vets to pick up my miscellaneous stuff, I plan to actually take my donations to a person or place that can use it. I also plan on finding ways to compliment another, but more importantly to bite my tongue when tempted to criticize or complain about a person in their absence.
  2. To planet earth. This will probably include more recycling, paying attention to the animals and plant life around me, and generally choosing something tangible that I can do to improve our common home beyond what I normally do. Should involvement with our local Pachamama Alliance environmental group count?
  3. To myself. On Sundays I’ll probably take a rest and find something to do that renews my spirit. Do you think it would be OK to ventilate about life’s frustrations and maybe even some people. 🙂

In order to avoid Being Kind just ending up as a pleasant platitude that doesn’t really challenge and transform my life, I am committing to write a specific action plan in my journal each morning. The next morning I will note whether I accomplished my action (or inaction in the case of complaining about someone). If I didn’t do my planned action was I able to find a substitute? Of course knowing that I’ll be telling you all about my successes and admitting my failures will also keep me motivated. (My husband also calls me to honesty.)

TAKE AWAY: I’m thinking that making a specific daily decision is the key to developing an ongoing attitude and habit of kindness, not just an occasional being nice. What do you think?