Week 41: Kindness.org: The Surprising Effects of Building Intent Around Kindness
Because this is New Jersey, and aggressive, caffeine-fueled commuting is standard, I pass 7 Dunkin’ Donuts and 3 Starbucks on my 40 minute, 11 mile drive to work.
Not only do all these coffee shops ensure I can always find a boost of energy, they provided the perfect venues for me to work on this week’s charity – Kindness.org.
Kindness.org is a digital platform designed to inspire small ripples of everyday kindness in communities around the globe.
You sign up, join a kindness initiative, carry out an act of kindness, then share and inspire others with words, images of video of your act.
There are a wide range of ideas (initiatives) to join, such as setting daily gratitude reminders, paying it forward by purchasing coffee for a stranger, leaving art (letters, poems, drawings) somewhere for people to come across like found treasure, etc.
I chose the “Give a Kind Book” initiative where participants choose a favorite book and leave a copy (along with a note) for a friend or stranger to discover. Each morning for a week, on my way into work, I left behind a book at one or two of the coffee shops.
The act of waking each morning and plotting my act of kindness brought a new, conscious and focused intent into the start of my day, which unexpectedly impacted my mindset for the day overall.
The Sanskrit word for ‘intention’ – Sankalpa – brings a beautiful understanding of the concept as a solemn vow or determination formed by the heart and mind. Intent becomes the representation of a desire or positive thought you want to manifest in the world.
The Latin roots of the word comes from “intentionem” which translates to “a stretching out, exertion.” In both cases, intention is not passive. It is a purposeful stretching or extending of your heart and mind beyond what you believe you are limited to do. When you build intent around kindness, and align behaviors around that intent, your perspective changes. You see beyond yourself. You are stretched by the desire you are determined to bring forth.
In choosing to participate in the kindness initiative, my first thoughts each day became focused on leaving surprises for others, on generosity and kindness, instead of around the stress of my upcoming workday activities, or the hundred daily mini and mindless pattern of activities I go through each morning as I rush to get to work.
That intention and act became a wonderful invitation to start each day in a gentle, open-hearted way. I really enjoyed that change of perspective.
Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, “Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do, is who you become.” I found that making a conscious choice to start the day with acts of kindness towards others, impacted how I interacted with others throughout the day. I kept that “other-focused,” generous mindset which opened up different types of interactions. For example, instead of starting the work day focused on getting through emails and voicemails and starting to check off the things that had to be accomplished that day (all-in on accomplishing tasks), I suddenly was taking time to chat with those around me for a few minutes. It happened naturally, without thinking, as if my mind had been stretched towards others by the simple act of leaving the books.
Kindness.org believes ripples of kindness can create massive waves of change. Their website reads: “Kindness is all around us, impactful and measurable, infinite (with imagination), serious and seriously fun, sometimes surprising, and a choice for everyone.”
They want kindness to become a habit – – a shared purpose among humanity to build a more loving world.
Before I left each book, I glued a little note on the front covers, explaining why I was leaving them “in the wild” for strangers to find. I also wanted to encourage people to continue to pass the books along, so on the inside cover I created space for the “finders” to put their first names, where they read the book, and the date they finished reading it.
Each time I left a book I smiled, thinking about who may find them.
I am hoping the books will do some traveling and be read by many, but even if they each end up a shelf and not passed along, I hope the people who picked them up are motivated to share kind acts of their own.
I’ll never know, but I hope I’ve created one tiny ripple of kindness that is moving out through the world.
THANK YOU for following me on my journey this week!
XO XO – Penny
Kindness.org is currently fully funded by the NEON Foundation. Their multi-year support covers all operating costs so they don’t have to ask for money. However, if you want to sign up and join an initiative, or if you want to learn more about the organization, please check out their website at: https://www.kindness.org/