Cynicism has crept into my life in a way that makes me understand the people on those hoarder shows. I blame politics, but I know that’s kind of like the hoarders blaming packing peanuts.

The last two years I’ve found myself becoming more and more of a hermit, wanting less and less human interaction. I just don’t want to fight anymore. But I also don’t think being silent is a moral option. So every interaction is fraught with the danger of potential conflict. It’s always on my mind. I’m always on guard.

In 2011, I’m going to get my kindness mojo back.

I read a great article about how we can create new neural pathways in our brains and retrain ourselves away from fear and back to hope. I started thinking about how to do that.

When I think about things that have made me feel good about mankind, I’m struck by how often that feeling comes from something I do for someone else. Paying for the groceries of someone who was trying to figure out what to put back when she realized she didn’t quite have enough to pay for milk and cereal. Saying something nice to someone who is obviously having a shitty day, especially if they’re taking that day out on me. Buying some weird little toy that happens to suit a friend perfectly. Letting the dogs up on the bed. Passing work on to a friend who needs it more than me. Shoveling the neighbor’s walk. Being open with compliments.

Am I making the world better? No. I’m not ending world hunger, bringing peace to the Middle East, solving global climate change or even mending the rift between liberals and conservatives. But I am reminding myself I like people. I make myself aware of others instead of focusing on me all the time. I remind myself that kindness freely given feels fricking awesome. And I get my brain back in the habit of thinking nice things about my fellow inhabitants on this planet. I won’t be entering the world waiting for conflict but rather looking for opportunities for peace.

So my big grand 2011 goal is to do something nice every day. 365 acts of kindness. Not stuff I do normally (saying please and thank you, hugging my son), but things I must think about first. By actively looking for opportunities for kindness, I hope to retrain my brain out of its cynicism and look forward to being around others, rather than dreading it.

Because it’s a goal, I want to track it and keep myself honest. To help with that, I’m adding this page to my Web site. I’ll note whatever kindness I accomplish each day. Wish me luck!

And I’d love to hear about kindnesses visited upon you at any point in your life. Or kindnesses you’ve sent out into the world.

2011! Cheers to a nice year and a nicer me!

Category: Niceness
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One Response
  1. Dayle says:

    You asked “Am I making the world better?” and answered “No.” I’m going to argue with that. Yes, you are. I believe that every bit of positive energy we put out there has the potential to be passed on, to grow, to push back the negative and the darkness in ways we can’t even imagine. Tiny or large, doesn’t matter. What matters is that it was good and positive.

    My next tattoo is a quote from one of my favorite songs, which pretty much sums up my philosophy of life: “The Good Catches Up.” (Lawrence Gowan, from the album of the same name)

    If every person on the planet made one effort, no matter how tiny, to make the world a better place, how much better would it be?

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