Kindness Towards Others As An Energy Boost

catinglasses

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?

Advertisements

Access Denied 

 

I wait

On edge

For what’s to come

I try not to let him get to me

But as hard as I try

He knows my weak spot

It’s our son

And so he tugs

I try not to bend

I want to lash out at him

But I can’t, and I won’t

Except it still gets to me

The anger keeps me up most the night

I must do better

Try harder

I changed the locks today

Because he has no concept of boundaries

And I needed to take back some control

I tell myself it will help steady me

For his inevitable blows

He no longer has the same level of access

To the coming and goings of my life

Access, denied

He may like playing games

He thinks it’s funny

Me, as his pawn

But I just want it to end

Start living my life the way I want

To begin

Beach Date

surfboardWe sat and gazed out over the ocean waves

As far as we could see

Dug our toes in the cool sand

We surfed together

Just him and I, letting the gentle current guide our way

We share the same laugh, you know

We both seek joy from the wild, and by connecting with others

When it was almost time to bring the day to an end

I went and laid down on the peach and white striped towel

He bounced down beside me, nestling his tiny nose into the corner of my neck, soaking wet from the surf, and sandy

We giggled

& in that moment

I felt more joy than any other moment that day, that week, the whole summer

Moments with any other cannot even compare

He is my joy

Oh how I love this little boy

“Close Your Eyes”

blue eyesHe walked into the surgical suite hand-in-hand with the anesthesiologist.

Lifted onto the table, he was wrapped up warmly in a blanket.

I stood by him so I could look into his beautiful eyes and soothe him. I held his hand and told him he was going to be ok.

The lights, so bright, they bothered both of our eyes. I told him to close his.

I know how hard that is, to close your eyes, because then you can no longer see what’s happening, you hate to give up what little control you have left.

I smelled the anesthesia. I hate that smell.

It’s one of those scents you can’t describe until it’s there and then you know exactly what it is.

Like chemical bubble gum in a plastic air mask.

I was worried that if I leaned in too close to him, I might breathe it in too and pass out right there on the floor.

Just the thought of that disoriented me for a second, because my mind immediately sprung into panic mode, thinking about what might happen if I couldn’t be there for him.

He tried to fight it. He wriggled and wrestled to get away from it. I tried even harder to keep his eyes trained on me, to stay in his sight so I would be the last person he saw.

I always think about that when I go under.

It’s the nurse who holds my hand or rubs my arm or looks into my eyes to assure me I’ll be ok, that she’ll be there when I wake up.

That’s the last thing I see and the first thing I remember when I come to.

It’s comforting. It’s better than the bright lights.

“You’re going to be ok,” I whisper into his ear.

“Mommy loves you.”

Kiss on the forehead.

He’s out.

I walk away on rubbery legs.

Breathe. Repeat.

Then wait in anguished anticipation.

And pray that my baby will be ok.