Act of kindness #15: Happier Goody Bags

Since joining Happier almost two years ago, I’ve become… well, Happier. My absolutely favourite app is an online community of like-minded souls and works like an online gratitude journal; members post ‘happy moments’ and fellow Happiers can ‘smile’ and write comments on these posts.

I truly feel like I’ve found my tribe: a community of kind, loving, supportive and positive souls from around the world.

There’s been quite a few meet ups, mainly in the US where the app’s HQ is, and it’s lovely to see friendships grow and flourish.

And I know I’ve made some cherished friendships for life.

The UK Happiers are dotted all over the country and a big meet up was arranged in London last month. I was deeply disappointed not to feel well enough to travel down and join them, but I enjoyed seeing the love and friendship radiating from the photos of the smiling faces.

There was another meet up in London today. And sadly again, I’m not well enough to go 🙁

So I thought it would be a lovely idea to make up some special Kindness Goody Bags and send them down to everyone who could go. That way I feel like I’m a part of the day even though I’m not physically there.

IMG_4241.JPG

A lovely Happier hosted the meet up at her home, and kindly let me send the parcel of goody bags there in time for the big day. She even tied some fabulous orange balloons to the bags to give them an extra Happier vibe. And she’d made an amazing cake especially for the occasion.

photo.jpg

I love that not only do I get the opportunity to spread a little kindness around this amazing community but I also got to be a part of this special day.

☆♡☆

Kindness Act #12: Thank you note

Being kind by writing a thank you note to a helpful stranger:

I’ve just started a new treatment plan with a private clinic and am having a few tests to try and establish the root causes of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

After carefully studying the comprehensive and specific instructions for one home-based test, my brain-fogged mind felt rather confused and I needed some help and guidance.

I knew I had to call the clinic but was feeling reluctant as I didn’t want to bother them.

I also didn’t want to appear paranoid, or pernickety, or dumb!

But as I’m investing quite a lot of money into this treatment plan, I want to make sure I do everything I can to ensure optimum results.

It took a few times to get through to the clinic, which fuelled my anxiety as I knew it meant they were busy.

But when I did get to speak to someone, she was simply fabulous.

In her soothing Welsh tones, she patiently and kindly answered all of my questions, which were actually completely validated, and gently talked me through the whole process.

What a relief!

As well as thanking her on the phone, I knew I wanted to thank her in a special way.

I wanted to show my gratitude to her for being so kind and patient and helpful. And that I appreciated the time she spent talking me through everything.

So I wrote her a little thank you note on the back of one of my ‘you are amazing’ postcards and included it in the package.

☆♡☆

Acts of kindness #11: Kindness postcards

Being kind by sending postcards of happiness to strangers:

In a world full of emails and texts and social media, I still love how powerfully uplifting receiving a hand-written card, postcard or letter can be.

So as soon as I came across Postcard Happiness, I knew I had to get involved.

Creator Tatjana Buisson explains how her postcard happinensss project is about “sending kindness & encouragement where it’s needed most.”

It’s about “encouraging the world to focus their positive energy onto a small rectangular piece of postcard and sending it to people who could physically and emotionally benefit from a little encouragement or acknowledgement in the form of kind, written words from strangers and friends.”

What a wonderfully, brilliant idea.

Anyone can nominate or be nominated and their stories are posted online. Be it a friend or loved one who is going through a rough time, or has done something inspiring, or simply needs a little cheering up.

It’s really for anyone who could benefit from a little postal kindness.

Currently nominated to receive postcards are a nine-year-old boy waiting for a life-saving heart transplant, a South African woman who set up a nonprofit organisation to support patients with rare diseases, and a care home resident whose day is brightened whenever he receives a postcard.

All you have to do is write a few words of kindness – be it support, encouragement, acknowledgement, or even to share your own story – and pop it in the post.

How easy is that!

So I decided to get my craft on and make a few postcards to send out:

Kindness postcards

They’re now making their way around the world, soon to bring a little sunshine into someone’s day.

♡☆♡

Act of kindness #6: Listening to my body

Being kind to my body by taking the rest I need:

With having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I have to rest a lot. Well, most of the time actually. And as much as I’ve made my bedroom my sanctuary which I love, I need a change of scenery now and again.

When a friend very kindly offered me her flat to stay in while she went on holiday, I jumped at the chance. I carefully planned my journey down and thankfully felt well enough to travel last Thursday.

This is my first visit to Bath and I’m excited about exploring this beautiful spa town. And being mindful of my health limitations, I know I can’t see and do as much as I’d like, but there’s a couple of gentle activities that I can hopefully enjoy.

I arrived a couple of days before my friend left so we could spend a little time together. The idea was that while she was out at work all day, I would rest and then we’d hang out when she got home.

But I arrived to find her still recovering from a recent bout of flu and she was still feeling pretty unwell. Poor thing.

As I have a compromised immune system due to the CFS, I tend to get cold/flu symptoms ten-fold and feel even more wiped than normal and for much longer too.

So I have to try and not contact viruses by avoiding contact with people who have a cold or the flu, the expression to avoid them like the plague is very apt for me!

We joked about setting up a convalescence home, and while my friend rested in bed, I rested on the sofa, and we met up at mealtimes to share empathy and sympathy.

This morning, the day after my friend left for her holiday, I’ve woken up with nausea, a slight headache, and am feeling drained; I’m really hoping it’s not the onset of the flu.

My plans for today were to have a gentle walk to see the nearby Royal Crescent and enjoy a soul stroll around the nearby park.

But despite desperately wanting to ignore my symptoms and stick to my plans, I am choosing to be kind to myself by listening to my body and honouring what I know it needs: complete rest.

Hopefully I will feel better tomorrow and will feel enough to explore a little, but if I don’t, I won’t.

And that’s ok.

 

Act of kindness #3: Sisterly love

Being kind by inviting my sister to join me for a film preview:

As part of my 100 Acts of Kindness I vowed to include kindness acts that I do for people I know as well as strangers.

These are the kind of acts that we all do on a regular basis without really thinking about, and we usually don’t pat ourselves on the back for.

But I strongly feel we should honour and celebrate all kinds of kindness, and while this one feels a bit uncomfortable to write, here we go…

A couple of days ago, I was excited to be offered free preview tickets to see the new Eddie The Eagle film. I was delighted to see that it was a pre-lunchtime screening as mornings are the better time with my limited energy levels, which speed quickly downhill after lunch.

Eddie_the_Eagle_poster

I usually take mum with me as my plus one, but knowing that my sister could do with a bit of cheering up, I decided to offer her my plus one ticket.

As a busy mum of two boys, aged 7 and 3, my sister doesn’t really get much time to herself – something I’m sure lots of mums identify with. She works three days a week and the other days are spent looking after my nephews, so I thought it would be brilliant to be able to offer her a morning away from the madhouse!

She was keen, but unfortunately the time conflicted with her hubby leaving to play in a football match. It was only a frustratingly short 20 minute gap, but obviously the boys can’t be left on their own in the house!

So she sadly had to decline my invite.

Thankfully our very kind mum came to the rescue and offered to look after the boys, and cover the short gap between their daddy going out and mummy coming home.

Hooray for our fabulous mum ♡

As the cinema is only a short drive from home and is manageable for me with the CFS condition, I offered to drive in order to give my sis a break from driving.

It was really nice to see her enjoying the luscious countryside views that she drives frequently past on her way to work but is unable to properly enjoy as she has to concentrate on the road.

Thankfully we both really enjoyed the film – we laughed, we cried, we gasped – and I think it’s safe to say that we both appreciated our rare 1-2-1 sister time together ☺︎

I’m so happy that I could share my good fortune of the free cinema tickets with my little sis, and for having such a lovely, kind and thoughtful mum to help make it happen.

 

Day 77: World Kindness Day

Being kind by spreading the kindness message:

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” ~ Dalai Lama

 

I wasn’t planning to post today. Feeling utterly exhausted and wiped out, I can’t really think straight (so please forgive any mistakes!) and need a day or two of complete rest.

But I couldn’t resisting writing this very quick salute to World Kindness Day, which is today!!

Introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement, and now with over 25 member nations, its awesome mission is: “To inspire individuals towards greater kindness and to connect nations to create a kinder world.”

Some of their big, bold and brilliant kindness events from previous years includes:

  • Handing out 10,000 chocolate bars at London Train stations
  • Free hugs on Sydney’s Bondi Beach
  • Giving out 30,000 Gerberas in Singapore

But kindness doesn’t have to just be about big, expensive gestures. It can be as simple as looking the barista/checkout assistant/postman in the eye and saying thank you, letting a car out in front of you, or spontaneously hugging a friend or a loved one.

RAK_kindness_is_free

And please, please, please don’t forget to be kind to yourself…  go on, you deserve it ☆

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind by spreading the kindness message.

Day 31: Hidden messages

Being kind by hiding messages for people to discover:

Time for another Act of Kindness.

Yippeeeeeeee!

Inspired by hiding messages in my returned library books last week (see Day 26), I wrote some messages on the back of my Kindness Cards (see Day 3) and decided to hide them around the city for people to discover.

It’s like a treasure hunt, but they don’t know there’s any treasure until they find it! Or something like that…

Anyway…

I set off into the city excited about my mission and began to think of all the places I could hide my messages. Here’s where I settled on:

Message 1: “Make the leap… it could be amazing 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Hid behind the sugar bowl on my table in a café.

Message 2: “You have a beautiful smile 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Stuck on the bathroom mirror in a café.

Message 3: “You are perfect, just as you are 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Popped inside the front pocket of a beautiful bag in a shop.

Message 4: “You are an incredible person 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Left on a bench in the city centre.

Message 5: “Everything will always be ok 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Placed inside the local paper on an article about Good Deeds!

Good Deeds article

Message 6: “You are truly loved, just as you are 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Also placed inside the local paper on an article about Good Deeds!

Message 7: “You don’t ever have to worry, it will be ok 😊 Have a lovely day Xx”
Left on the bus.

WooHooooooo!

I also wrote this blog address on the card, just in case the finder wants to have a peek. Wouldn’t it be cool if they did, and even wrote a comment, oh my!

It’s true what they say about the giver benefits as much as the receiver. I hope I’ve helped to make a couple of people smile today, as much as I have while doing this fun Act of Kindness.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind by hiding messages for people to discover.

Day 11: Flower power

Being kind by giving flowers to a stranger:

Today I took a big scary step into the wonderful world of being kind to a stranger: face-to-face.

As I’d taken myself into the city for a yummy brunch, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to face this fear.

I bought a pretty little bunch of orange gerbera’s and asked the flower seller to attach my kindness card to it, with the words: Enjoy the flowers… you deserve them.

Ok, that’s the easy part done.

Now to find someone to give them to…

Gulp!

Call me crazy, but I thought an older lady – in her sixties or seventies – would be a good choice for my first attempt. I felt a younger person might be suspicious of my intentions and a man may take my gesture the wrong way: especially as I was so nervous. As I grow more confident, my intention is to do face-to-face acts of kindness to all, regardless of age or gender.

With butterflies flitting and fluttering around my tummy, I walked up and down a couple of busy shopping streets. I focused my search to those sitting on benches or waiting at bus stops, as I thought it’d be easier to approach someone who wasn’t rushing off somewhere.

I then scanned the seating areas on the city’s Market Square and finally found a couple looking happy and relaxed. The man was doing a crossword, and the lady was watching people go by.

She smiled at me as I walked by, and I knew she was the one.

My heart pounding, I approached her and told her I’d like to give her the flowers. I explained that I’m doing acts of kindness and asked if she’d accept the gerbera’s from me.

She graceful accepted them without question.

Phew, I was so grateful. I’d expected a little suspicion as to why I wanted to give a stranger flowers, and was relieved to find an open and willing recipient.

The lovely lady explained how they’re just visiting the city, and so sadly didn’t have anywhere to put them. But as she was meeting her sister-in-law later, she would pass them on: spreading the kindness, she told me with a knowing smile. WooHooooo it works!

I walked away my heart feeling happy and proud of myself for putting myself out of my comfort zone.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind by giving flowers to a stranger.

 

Day 2: Me, my BFF?

Being kind to myself by being my own best friend:

Today I’m focusing on the wisdom from my ‘Louise Hay’s I Can Do It’ calendar: I am my own best friend. Other friends may come and go, but I am always here for me. I support myself in feeling good.

When I saw this, I instantly wished it had come later in the the 100 days, as I felt I couldn’t possible have both Days 1 and 2 as being kind to me. That’s a pretty selfish way to start this project.

But then I thought why not?

So instead, I’ve chosen to take it as a sign: lesson I need reminding of.

Being your own best friend is one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learnt on my self-growth journey so far.

I remember my self-love guru Louise Hay asking if you would ever talk to a friend like you talk to yourself.

It was a huge light bulb moment for me.

Ultimately, we have a choice: we can either be our own worst enemy or our own best friend. I know which I would prefer to choose, but is it that easy?

I follow two-step programme for being my own best friend: The first step is to listen and catch my inner voice, the dastardly inner critic, when it’s berating me. You know the one, it’s the voice that says things like: “Look at the size of your muffin top, you are so fat”, “Why did you say that?” or “You’re such an idiot.”

I was pretty shocked to witness how my inner critic could get really stuck into me. I know I’d be absolutely horrified if a friend told me that’s how they talk to themselves.  So why should it be any different to how I talk to myself?

The next step, is to banish my inner critic by showing myself kindness, understanding, compassion and love. Whenever I catch my inner critic rearing it’s ugly head, I pause, take a deep breath, and think what I’d say to a beloved friend in the same situation.

It’s pretty liberating and so much nicer than telling myself off. Hopefully I’ve made a friend for life.

So with that in mind, my happy for today remembering to be my own best friend.

 

 

Day 1: A happier me

Being kind to myself by committing to this project and becoming a happier me:

Eeek! My first day. And I’ve no idea what to write.

OK Helen, take a deep breath in… and out… that’s better.

Sooooo, here I am: embarking on my 100 days of happy project.

I think I want to kick off this project by being grateful that I’ve decided to do it! That I am committing to my quest to being a happier me.

Doing a project like this has been on my mind for quite a while and I’ve been inspired by the 100 days challenges that have been popping up recently.

Happiness means different things to different people. For me it’s about feeling more positive, being content with my life, being the best friend/daughter/sister/auntie I can be, improving my health, and simply, because it feels good. I say a big fat YES to all of the above! Life is too short to be unhappy.

So, after a bit of digging to look for inspiration on how to carry out this project, I came across ‘The Happiness Challenge’ workbook – (a collaboration by Action for Happiness and Headspace to support a feature on happiness by BBC Breakfast in January 2011).

It gives me a good starting point and suggests three simple actions to try in my daily life: being mindful – do less and notice more; being grateful – remember the good things, and being kind – do things for others. It also has great ideas and suggestions with questions to answer and sections to complete – making it easy to track changes you experience.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind to myself by committing to this project and being a happier me.