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A Little Something Good

What can you do this year that will instantly make you smile without spending a penny and does not involve eating the right foods or giving up something you enjoy? Scattering kindness, paying it forward and helping others are a few phrases that describe a plethora of activities that create an opportunity to be the person who makes you feel good.

You probably are already doing lots of little things that make others smile.  So this might be the year when you simply do more of them.  Try to catch yourself in an act of kindness.  Notice how quickly you pick up something that someone has dropped but barely notice their smiling nod of thanks.  When you decide to let someone ahead of you in a busy store or driving down the freeway, do you feel proud for a moment because you  just did a little something good?

Simply keep …
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Kindness (by Naomi Shihab Nye – 1952)

“… Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere like a shadow or a friend.”


This is an excerpt from the poem “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye written in 1952. The Academy of American Poets announced that “Kindness” was the most popular work on poets.org this year.  See complete poem at https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/kindness
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Teaching Kids To Be Kind

“I am kind wan I hlp my Mom” is what Kevin, a kindergartener at Partnership Academy wrote for his Kindness Project.  Students learned about some important aspects of being kind, like being a good listener and how to turn a frown upside down, in the book “K is for Kindness.”

Kindergarteners were excited to each receive a book of their own to take home and read with their family. This began a week of focusing on kindness where immediate responses to “what are you going to do to be kind” came many “share my toys” and “be nice to my family.”

Now these kind students are creating kindness books. Wonder what would happen if every adult completed a kindness project this week???


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The Power Of A Smile

The power of a smile has been documented by authors and singers since time immemorial. When we feel great, a smile comes naturally. It’s an outward sign of joy, happiness, appreciation, amusement, excitement, or contentment. Scientists have found that smiling on purpose can help people feel better. Smiling on purpose changes brain chemistry. So it can be a big help to people who are dealing with depression and anxiety. In one study, researchers discovered that people who intentionally smiled, ended up feeling happy.

Ron Gutman, CEO of Health Tap wrote an interesting article called “The Untapped Power Of Smiling.”  He referenced a study which examined the smiles of students in an old yearbook, and measured their well-being and success throughout their lives. By measuring the smiles in the photographs, the researchers were able to predict how fulfilling and long lasting their marriages would be, how highly they would score on …
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Living Life To The Fullest

Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly  is an organization that brings joy and friendship to isolated elders.  I had the privilege of meeting Marcella and Scott, who are a great example of how a little kindness can help to end loneliness.

Marcella has been a seamstress, sailor, nurse, writer, and gardener. And now she is a fascinating 90 year-old! Living alone in her home in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis, Marcella takes the bus to the grocery store and enjoys growing strawberries in her yard. With all of her relatives living in Arizona, she believes “you are responsible for yourself” and tries not to let a bit of arthritis or occasional feelings of isolation get in her way of living life to the fullest.

A native Minnesotan, Marcella began her career as a seamstress working in a rug factory. Longing to become a nurse, she eventually got into a vocational …
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How Do YOU Say Thanks?

There are big thanks, like when you run out of gas on the highway and an angel appears with a tank full of gas, and little thanks, like every time you check out at the convenience store.   In all cases, aren’t we trying to communicate that we appreciate whatever the person has done, whether it’s their job or not? What we sometimes forget to do when our mouths spit out “thanks” is to look the person in the eye to acknowledge their positive presence in our day.

For the big thanks, we might want to especially reinforce those unsolicited actions of a person who saved us from a minor or major catastrophe. In those instances, heartfelt words like “you are my hero” or following up with a hand-written note, if at all possible, can create a great topic at the dinner table for the receiver.  And we’ve all probably read …
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To Mentor A Prisoner

A couple of years ago, I saw a post about prisoners who wanted mentors. Without any exposure to the criminal justice system,  I wasn’t going to give it a second thought, so I don’t really know why I decided to go to an informational meeting.  Maybe it was because I had convinced myself that the next chapter of my life was going to involve delving into some slices of life of people who I otherwise would never have a chance to meet.

I had successfully added volunteer opportunities  to my weekly routine which involve Hispanic kindergartners, Somali refugees, underserved teens, and the homeless. So why not consider a prisoner as well?  I quickly learned about the high percentage of people who end up returning  to correctional facilities but also how that number dramatically drops for prisoners who have had a mentor.  I know that fear is often what prevents many …
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