I’m going to use the B word for a minute.
I am a busy mom. There, I said it.
The dreaded b word, because it’s hardly descriptive of anything — who isn’t busy? Everyone is overloaded, such is life these days, no doubt more so for single parents trying to juggle it all.
But when I am inundated by the things I have to do, or when I feel like nothing is going right, or I get caught up in a spiral of negativity, and I just want to fall face first into my bed into a deep slumber, there is one thing that never fails to perk me up.
And it’s not saying “no” or “letting it go” like the self-help books recommend. In fact, it’s actually adding something.
What is it?
I do something nice for someone else.
Pretty simple, maximally effective, and it fills me with joy to help another person, or put a smile on their face.
Which is why when I came across this post, Psychologists Reveal One Of The Best Ways To Boost Your Mood, about a study showing how acts of kindness that are geared toward helping someone other than yourself can lead to happiness, I thought, “well duh.”
And then it dawned on me. Not everyone understands that direct connection.
When I was married, if I were to do something nice for someone outside of my immediate family, my husband would give me a hard time about it. Why was I spending my time helping a neighbor with her baby, when I had so much to do at my own house, he would try and reason with me. And he knew full well I would stay up an extra hour, cutting into my sleep to make sure everything got done.
Weird, right? What a jerk, I used to think. He doesn’t get it! But maybe instead of being a jerk, he was actually in the majority. When you have more to do than you can handle, it can make sense to conserve your energy and prioritize.
In the equation of balancing work, schlepping the kiddos to and from school, getting dinner on the table, and if we’re lucky, squeezing in a little exercise, why add more?
Because the value add is worth it. Because the boost in your mood and energy is worth it, and it’s the right thing to do. It’s how I was raised, so I saw the behavior and benefits modeled for me. It’s what I saw my parents do for a friend, neighbor, or often, a complete stranger, and so I know intrinsically, the value of this type of pro-social behavior. It makes me feel good, and it helps someone else feel good, to boot. Two for one!
Trust me. Just try it. At the end of a long day, Mondays are awesome for this because Mondays suck and your energy is zilch, think up one nice or creative thing you can do for a neighbor. It has to be easy and reasonable. Commit to it, show your kids what you are doing, and explain why. Then tonight as you fall into bed, I bet you’ll be happier and feel better about yourself had you not gone out of your way to show one act of kindness to someone. And that someone? They’ll be drifting off to sleep with a smile on their face too.
For me, tonight, I’m dropping a bottle of wine off on the doorstep of dear friends for their wedding anniversary. I know it will add a smile to their celebration.
How about you? How can you add some kindness into your everyday thoughts?