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Organizing as a Form of Self-Care

One of the social media groups I’m in does self-care Sunday every weekend, and there are a lot of posts about taking time for yourself, bubble baths, and buying something you really want as a way to be kind to yourself – and those are all great ideas – but organizing things around your home can also be a form of self-care.

Organizing and Self Care Image by CoiffeurTeamLaurentius from Pixabay

Decluttering as Self-Care

When you declutter your living space, it reduces the stress you feel, and that makes it a form of self-care when you declutter.

Organizing and working on things around the house may not feel like taking care of yourself right off the bat, but if you think of the satisfaction you get when completing a task that makes your environment more beautiful, you can start to see the self care in performing routine tasks.

Managing stress and self care is a holistic process, in the sense that if one part of your life is out of balance, it’s a sign that everything is. People can typically understand your psychological state by looking at your physical environment.

Self-Care for Everyone

Personal self-care is the foundation we all build upon when we want to level-up in life. Without practicing self care, especially the kind of emotional self care that’s bolstered by tidying and beautifying our surroundings, we can end up stuck, fighting the same battles over and over.

This interesting TED talk on self care discusses why taking care of yourself first isn’t selfish.

Now, if you absolutely hate organizing, tidying up, or cleaning the house, by all means, you should hit the spa for a facial or massage, but keep in mind that self care is more than just pampering yourself, and if organizing benefits you, then it’s self care, too.

Storage for Small Spaces

Getting back to the organizing aspect of self care and self-wellness, if you’re working with a small space it can be hard to keep things organized, so you may need to get or make some storage solutions for small spaces.

Self care, wellness, and positivity can be enhanced by having a place to put all your things and having those things in their places when you need to get them.

These solutions for storage can include plastic bins that stack neatly in your closet, cardboard boxes that hold items in an organized way in your dresser drawers. Storage solutions can even be decorative, like cute baskets filled with small items on a wall shelf that matches the decor in your home.

Closet Storage Solutions

There are a lot of companies that will design custom closets that are suited to your personal organizing needs, and there are also closet solutions available in hardware stores and online venues.

If you’re working with a smaller space, you may be able to apply some no-closet solutions for storage, such as hanging shoe racks, over-the-door hooks, corner shelves, and curio cabinets.

I actually have a shelf that’s kind of rickety and clunky in my closet, but it helps me keep my things organized and gives me a place to keep seasonal items packed neatly out of the way.

Learning self-care helps you rewire your brain and the magic of tidying up is, strangely enough, an important part of healthy self care.

Thank you for visiting Intrinsic Vicissitude! Please enjoy browsing around the site for more tips on organizing and self care, or visit the Intrinsic Vicissitude Facebook page to join the conversation there.

Setting SMART Goals for 2021

Setting positive goals can be challenging, because if you are going to spend the time setting goals, you also want them to achievable goals – and the SMART goals framework offers a way to increase your chances of success.

Set SMART Goals Image by gabrielle_cc from Pixabay

The acronym, SMART, stands for the elements that are combined to make this type of goal setting effective.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

Using the SMART goal setting strategy, as described by Indeed, helps you avoid the risk of setting vague goals that are likely to fail.

What Exactly Are SMART Goals?

SMART objectives follow a simple framework, or process, of development. The word behind each letter of the acronym, SMART, gives a hint about what to do and what to consider when setting new goals.

Specific Goals

When you make goals specific, it gives you a target to aim for when planning ways to achieve your goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, you wouldn’t make the goal ‘to lose weight’ – you would make the goal for a specific number of pounds to lose or a specific number of inches to trim off your waist.

This is because it’s easy to say you want to do something, but that’s too general. Saying you want to achieve a specific thing, such as losing twenty pounds or fifty pounds, gives you a firm goal.

Measurable Goals

Making a goal measurable means defining how you will know you have achieved your goal. Using the weight loss example again, if your goal is too broad, such as just to lose weight but no specific amount, you not only have no way of knowing when you’ve achieved it, you also have no way to measure it.

However, if you set a goal of losing ten pounds, and check your starting weight, then when the scale reads ten pounds lighter, you’ll know you have achieved your specific, and measurable, goal.

Achievable Goals

Setting attainable goals means you are more likely to succeed if you choose a goal that’s do-able. For example, you may want to lose a hundred pounds, and of course that’s do-able – under certain circumstances and time frames.

A more achievable goal, using the weight loss example, would be calculated using the amount of weight a doctor says you can safely lose per week, and dividing a hundred by that number. Then, you would check the calendar to see the soonest date you could safely expect to lose that amount of weight.

Relevant Goals

Setting relevant, clear goals means choosing goals that align with your beliefs and desired lifestyle. This means knowing yourself well enough to set goals that mean something to you and that you’re willing to work to achieve.

For example, if you’re considering something that takes years to achieve, such as earning a college degree, then you would set each smaller goal, or mini goal, based on what you need to do to get your college degree. Passing each course that’s required to get your degree would be one of your achievable, relevant mini goals.

Timely Goals

Putting time limits, or deadlines, on your goals is about motivating yourself and about helping you stay on track to succeed in achieving your goals. Make the time-based goals ambitious, to keep yourself energized and under a bit of pressure. This is where setting long-term goals that are broken up into short-term goals really comes into play.

Using the weight loss example again, if you want to lose a hundred pounds, that would be a long-term goal because you couldn’t do it safely in a short time period. But you could make it a goal to lose that in a year and then break the goal into increments of ten pounds a month or every two months, and each short term goal would also have a deadline.

4 Easy SMART Goal Setting Tips

  1. Be kind to yourself: One of my favorite goal setting tips is to be kind to yourself.
  2. Set goals that change your life: Realize that the goals you’re setting, if you set high enough goals, can change your life, or at the very least be part of rewriting your life story.
  3. Set both long-term and short-term goals: Don’t be afraid to set big goals, just be sure to break the big ones into achievable smaller goals.
  4. Build success into your life story: Each smaller goal you achieve builds success into your story, and each success increases the likelihood of succeeding in your biggest goals.

What Is My Goal in Life?

When you’re setting life goals, keep in mind that it’s really rare for anyone to have a single goal in life. Because human beings are complex and multi-faceted, it’s typical to have goals that speak to different parts of life. Some common types of goals that make up a person’s life goals are personal goals and professional goals.

  • Personal goals: Personal goals are the goals that
  • Professional goals: Professional goals are the goals that

Using the SMART process for setting goals can help you establish positive goals in life, and following it can help you succeed in achieving both long-term and short-term goals.

Examples of Short Term Goals

Short-term goals could be described as daily goals, weekly goals, or monthly goals. These mini goals are like stepping stones on a path that can lead to success in the achievement of your long-term goals.

  1. Daily goals: An example of a daily goal, still using the example of someone who wants to lose weight, could be staying under a calorie limit, drinking the required amount of water, or a specific amount of time spent exercising.
  2. Weekly goals: Applying the weight loss approach to weekly goals, an example could be lifting weights three times a week and doing yoga stretches or aerobic activity twice in a week’s time.
  3. Monthly goals: An example that applies weight loss to the setting of monthly goals could be the specific amount of weight you can reasonably and safely lose in a month.

Note that these are all goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based for a person whose goal is to lose weight. The process applies, however, to setting goals for anything in life, not just weight loss.

Examples of Long-Term Goals

Long-term goals are those that take a year to several years to achieve. Think of these long-term goals as being closer to a goal of life than your short-term goals are. But – set your long-term goals using the same framework. Be specific about what you want, and establish a framework that’s realistic and time-based for achieving it.

  1. One-year goals: One-year gals are long-term goals you can realistically achieve in a year. Using the weight loss example, losing a hundred pounds would be a one-year goal if you set up smaller goals of losing two pounds per week.
  2. Five-year goals: Five year goals are those that realistically take about five years to achieve. Using the college and professional life example, You could set a goal of earning a Bachelor’s degree and being one year into your professional career as a five-year goal.
  3. Ten-year goals: It’s okay to think big when setting your ten-year goals. Just really think about what you want and where you want to be at the end of ten years, and kind of work your way backward, thinking about the steps you need to take to get thee. Set plenty of achievable short-term goals and make sure to stay focused on achieving each short-term goal.

Setting goals for success is the first thing you need to do to if you want to reach a goal that’s big and significant. Have confidence in yourself, and be willing to focus and work to get where you want to be. If you can dream it, you can achieve it!

By: Laure Justice

Thanks for visiting Intrinsic Vicissitude! Browse around the site to check out some of the other information on setting goals and rewriting your life story.

– Laure

First Day of 2021: Combining Goals

So, how did the first day of 2021 go for you? I hope it was a blessed and fulfilling day for you.

Road to 2021 Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I didn’t get my 2021 goals written down yet, but I did go ahead and get started on them. In short, my goals for 2021, at least for the first couple months, is to do something positive for myself everyday, and to work on cleaning and organizing around the house.

Combining Goals

If you’re feeling like you’re ‘in deep’ and like there’s no way you can manage everything you want to achieve in 2021, look for places where you can combine goals, and get more than one thing done at once.

I’ll share my example from today to give you an idea what I mean:

One thing I did today that pulled double duty was steam cleaning the upholstered living room furniture. (My son helped and may even have done the harder parts.)

It pulled double duty because it turned out to be a lot of exercise, and because it made the room look better. Plus, the furniture has a bright, lemony fragrance now.

Look for the Positive in Simple Tasks

Don’t let yourself feel dragged down by the chores that make up your everyday routine. Things like cooking and cleaning are no fun if hate them, but if you can adjust your thinking to see them as a way to make life nicer for the people you love, and for yourself, then it’s possible to make chores much more enjoyable.

I’ll also share an example of this from my day:

I also made a fairly labor intensive evening meal, biscuits and gravy with home fries. (I know… there goes my extra exercise.) And, while the food was cooking, I worked on cleaning and organizing the kitchen, so it looked a bit better after I made dinner than it did before.

Instead of looking at making a labor intensive meal as a chore, I thought of it as an honor, because I was spending my time preparing a meal my sons enjoy, and that nourishes their bodies and their spirits. Sure, it was a little heavy on the starches, but it’s not something we have often.

Thanks for visiting Intrinsic Vicissitude. Browse around the site for more information about goal setting and positivity – and please stop back soon for updates.

– Laure

New Years Resolutions: 2021 Edition

Well, 2020 has been quite a year, and while it’s never good to wish your life away, it’s kind of nice seeing 2020 move into the rearview mirror; so as part of my goodbye to the year, I thought I would do a recap on my new year’s resolutions article from last year.

New Years Resolutions Party Dogs Image by markito from Pixabay

New Year’s Resolutions or Goals for the New Year?

In a way, New Year’s resolutions and goals for the new year are the same thing, but at the same time, they’re different because goal setting involves several steps that increase the likelihood of follow-through.

Examples of New Year’s Resolutions

To shine some light on the difference, I thought I would drop a few common New Year’s Resolutions here before going deeper into the goal setting for the new year aspect.

  • Lose weight
  • Be more organized
  • Keep the house cleaner

These are all things that would benefit your lifestyle if you achieve them, if they’re issues for you, however, when stated as resolutions, they’re more like wishes – and wishes kind of float away in the wind like dandelion seeds when they aren’t backed by anything.

It can be more effective to think of your new year’s resolutions as long-term goals, and then back them up with goal-setting sessions that list the short-term goals you need to achieve in order to make the long term goals work.

Goal Setting Ideas for Weight Loss

It’s easy to know how much weight you want to lose, and it’s common sense to know the way to do it is to eat less and exercise more – however – it isn’t that easy. If it were that easy, everyone who wants to be thin would aleady be thin.

To use goal setting strategies to help you succeed in this type of resolution or long-term goal, think of specific things you can realistically do each day to get to where you want to be.

Set Smaller Realistic Goals

For example, exercise: You know you need to exercise, and say you’ve picked running or weight lifting as your chosen physical activity. If you jump right in and work out intensely for an hour or two at a time, you’re likely to quit the first day, or at least within the first week.

So, instead of choosing to work out intensely, consider what types of exercise you can realistically – and safely – do – such as walking for ten or twenty minutes a day with a goal of increasing the number of steps you take each week.

Commit Your Goals to Writing

Put these smaller goals in writing – add the details to your calendar or planner. I’ve often heard people say to tell your friends or family, so others can hold you to it. For me that doesn’t work, though writing them down does seem to help. I’ve found that the people who SAY they want to help are often the people who really don’t want to see success.

Set a Date to Revisit Goals

Make a date with yourself a few weeks out to revisit your goals and measure your success. If that date comes, and you aren’t where you wanted to be, refresh your goals, and move the dates out to achieve them. Then, start over or pick up from where you are.

Life is an ongoing process, so if you haven’t achieved the goals you set during your new year’s goal setting session, don’t be hard on yourself. Adjust, pat yourself on the back for anything you have achieved, and move forward.

In closing, I want to thank everyone who has visited intrinsic Vicissitude in 2020. It’s meant a lot to me to see all the visitors stopping by for a little boost of positivity. Please stop back often in 2021, and feel free to visit the Intrinsic Vicissitude Facebook page to join in the conversation and positivity.

Laure

Which Supplements For Muscle Growth?

Which Supplements for Muscle Growth?

By: Darren O Connell

Taking certain nutritional supplements for muscle building is not absolutely necessary; you can do without them, however, some of them really do have their advantages. They can give you an added physical and mental edge.

They help to enhance performance and can help in the muscle-building process. Although some are a waste of your time money and effort, there are a few that do actually perform.

Supplements help to fulfil the missing link that may occur during an intense muscle-building phase.

You do need some supplements for greater muscle growth.

Here are the supplements I’d recommend for Muscle-building.

Creatine:
A great supplement that always produces positive health and muscle-building benefits. Helps to fill the muscles with fluid making you stronger and able to lift heavier and recover faster.
Good bodyweight gains achieved with this, which allows you to lift more for better muscle growth stimulation.

Protein Powders:
Whey protein isolate is the best fast acting protein to aid in repair and growth of muscle tissue after an intense training session.
Casein Protein is a slow digesting protein best taken just before bed to supply the body with a continuous flow of amino acids for repair and growth through the night while you sleep.

Weight Gainers:
A high calorie supplement is a good idea if you consider yourself as being under weight. High calories are needed for muscle endurance and optimum performance and effective muscle repair.

You’ll want to stay healthy while you’re on a muscle-building quest so I’d also recommend:

A good multi-vitamin/mineral supplement:

To offset any nutrient deficits that may occur during an intense training program. Vitamins and minerals are essential for good health and well being.

Vitamin C:
A great immunity booster and free radical destroyer.

Vitamin E:
Great for Cell integrity and vitality.

EFAs:
Essential Fatty Acids:
Great for overall health and helps promote the body’s production of Testosterone – the muscle builder.

Note: You should always check with your GP or other health professional before taking any nutritional supplements.

Along with the supplements there are other elements that you need for muscle-growth:

A sound workout routine that induces muscle growth and does not over-train the muscles.
A good healthy high calorie diet. Eat six smaller meals instead of 3 large meals.

Sufficient rest and recovery time. Your muscles have to be fully recovered.

Discipline Commitment and Consistency.

A few supplements like the above.

The bodybuilding supplement industry is big business. You really don’t need all those “miracle” muscle-building supplements that come onto the market, but once in a while they do actually bring about a supplement that actually does what it’s reported to do.

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Author Bio
Darren O Connell – has over 20 years experience in Muscle Growth, Health, Fitness, Fat loss and Nutrition – http://www.explosivemusclegrowth.com

Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com – Free Website Content

Hi, Thanks for visiting Intrinsic Vicissitude! I wanted to share this article to bring in the expertise of a fitness professional to give you information I couldn’t provide from my personal experience. Of course, for more information, visit Mr. O Connell’s website, and be sure to talk with your own physician, nutritionist, or personal trainer to learn more about your body’s specific nutritional needs and supplements to try. – Laure

Where Are You?

My soul knows you.  

I just can’t find you.  

I can feel you pulsing through my veins, but you linger, always just out of reach.  

You are eternity.  

And I am you.  

And you are me.  

We are lacking without each other, but always dangling just out of reach.  

Always out of reach.  

I call your name in my dreams.  

I feel you in my heart.  

I hear your laughter in my soul.  

But you are gone when I wake up.  

Will I never find you when my eyes are open?  

ABCs Of Your Career Journey – V Is For Vulnerability

ABCs Of Your Career Journey – V Is For Vulnerability
By E. Elizabeth Carter

Career Journey Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

It takes courage to be vulnerable especially in the workplace! It can be very difficult and stressful to be “seen” by others when faced with challenging issues. By exposing ourselves to others to voice our opinion, we open ourselves up to possible ridicule. HOWEVER more importantly it can open the door to innovation and willingness to look at situations differently.

The question then is when is it appropriate to show our vulnerability? Every situation is different so it is hard to define best practices when dealing with potential difficult conversations with coworkers, bosses, and/or other stakeholders. Hopefully the work environment is such that there is psychological safety, trust, and integrity. Without these three elements plus both parties having high emotional intelligence, these interactions could be very confrontational to the point that relationships are irreparable and the workplace becomes toxic.

To guard against this, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Some see this as being a time waster because they feel the other person will not budge on their opinion, is needy or whiny, or always has to win. Stick with the facts when you do your analysis of the situation and determine what the best outcome is that you could hope for. You also have to set boundaries for yourself and also consider the other person’s. In other words, take the time to make a plan just like you would if this was a project. Anticipate what the sunk cost would be if this does not come to a successful conclusion as well as what safeguards can be put in place so that both parties are respectful of each other.

Another thing to consider is: do we put ourselves in situations where we are more vulnerable than at other times? Naturally this can occur when meeting or presenting to senior level leaders in the company but we also have to identify those people we feel intimidated by for a variety of reasons. Why does our confidence drop when we interact with these people? What traits do they possess that make us feel insecure? Are they really doing anything differently than how others behave or are we just perceiving them in a different way?

There are definitely pros and cons to being vulnerable but we all have different tolerance levels. What we need to consider is not only how we feel but how do we project our thoughts to others and in turn do we make them feel vulnerable. This is just another part of our career journey in that we can’t have a meaningful connection with someone if one or both of us feel like we have hit a dead-end road.

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/E._Elizabeth_Carter/277462
http://EzineArticles.com/?ABCs-Of-Your-Career-Journey—V-Is-For-Vulnerability&id=10375718

10 Powerful Patience Quotes

Today, I am dealing with the need for patience, and it seemed the perfect time to share these 10 powerful patience quotes.

I’ve chosen my 10 favorite (at least today they’re my favorite) quotes about patience.

Zen: Patience quotes Image by Elias Sch. from Pixabay

10 Beautiful Quotes About Patience

  1. “Genius is eternal patience.” – Michelangelo

2. “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” – Napoleon Hill

3. “Our patience will achieve more than our force.” – Edmund Burke

4. “How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” – William Shakespeare

5. “He that can have patience can have what he will.” – Benjamin Franklin

6. “Endurance is the crowning quality, And patience all the passion of great hearts.” – James Russell Lowell

7. “The more you know yourself, the more patience you have for what you see in others.” – Erik Ericson

8. “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” – Leo Tolstoy

9. “Patience, that blending of moral courage with physical timidity.” – Thomas Hardy

10. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

How to Make Your Wishes Come True: The Importance of Wishes

Someone I loved once told me that wishes are important, even sacred, because every time we’re given an opportunity to make a wish, we’re also given the opportunity to make it come true.

Wishing on a candle Image by diapicard from Pixabay

Make Your Wishes Count

The catch (there’s always a catch, right?) is that what it takes to make a wish come true may be a higher price than you’re willing to pay.

Are you willing to do what it takes to make your wishes come true?

So, when making a wish, you should think about what you really want and decide if you’re really willing to do what it takes to make your wish come true.

It’s kind of common thinking to believe that you make a wish, then wait, and if you don’t get what you wished for, then wishes are lame – but – that isn’t how life works most of the time! If it was how life works, we would all be thin, rich, and happy.

Birthday Wishes on Candles

I’m thinking about wishes and how important a wish can be because today’s my birthday and birthdays are kind of the ultimate ‘wish days’ with candles on cakes and all that.

Birthday candle wishes Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

I like to pause and reflect on my life and the things I most want to change and, of course, what I’m willing to make happen before making a birthday wish – or any wish.

So, I really just wanted to say, to anyone who reads this – don’t waste your wishes on empty dreams – choose a wish you’re willing to work for, and when you get your wish, it will be all the sweeter for the effort you’ve invested.

Brief History of Birthday Candle Wishes

Wondering where the idea to wish on birthday cake candles came from?

The history of wishing on birthday candles goes back to Greek mythology – in which it was thought that the smoke from the extinguished flames carried a person’s wishes up to the gods.

Necklace Wishes

Necklace wishes are the wishes you get to make when the clasp of a necklace moves to the front and touches the pendant in the front.

Wishing on a necklace Image by Markéta Machová from Pixabay
How to wish on a necklace…

The clasp has to actually touch the pendant, not just be close.

Plus, it’s really the same deal in that you have to be willing to act in order for the necklace wishes you make to come true.

Dandelion Wishes

Dandelion wishes are the wishes made before blowing on the dried seeds of a dandelion blossom.

Wishing on a dandelion Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay
How to wish on a dandelion…

Wishing on a dandelion is something many children learn when playing in the yard or a park.

To wish on a dandelion, choose a puffy, white dandelion that has lost all of its yellow petals.

Close your eyes and make a wish while taking a deep breath, then blow as hard as possible on the fluffy white seed pods.

Open your eyes, and see if all the puffy white seed pods are gone.

According to the legend, if you blew all the seeds into the air in one breath, your wish is supposed to come true and if there are still seeds attached to the stem, then you’ll have to try to wish again some other time because it isn’t going to come true.

So, to wind up this post, and what I hope is a message of hope, wishing on things with no plan to apply effort is just a form of superstition.

The power behind a wish lies with you – so choose your wishes carefully and wish for things that are worth the effort to work for – and may all your wishes come true.

The Ripple Effects of Kindness

The Ripple Effects of Kindness
By Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D

Ripple Effects of Kindness Image by 18121281 from Pixabay

It only takes a spark

to get a fire going,

and soon all those around

will warm up to its glowing…

That old song, called “Pass It On,” used to be a popular one to end campouts and church retreats. Everyone would gather in a circle in the dark with an unlit candle, and as they sang the song, one candle would be illuminated. Then that candle would be touched to the wick of another, and the person holding that candle would pivot to the next, and so on, until every candle was lit and the darkness was driven away.

It only took a spark.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of kindness in that way – how it spreads from person to person, with the potential to light up the world.

Over the last 30 years, I’ve been listening to people’s stories – the stories of their lives, and of what has caused them to be the way they are. Everyone has these stories of events from their past that caused them either unhappiness or happiness.

One thing I’ve learned in all this time is that we affect one another, and the way we treat others matters.

There’s no getting around the cruel fact that the actions of people we’re raised with matter. Some parents are loving, supportive, and kind, but then there are those who are cruel or even abusive. The words of such parents can have a lasting impact, with statements like “I wish you’d never been born,” or “You’ll never amount to anything.” This can become part of a playlist that their children return to again and again throughout their lives, because it’s incredibly difficult to change to a different soundtrack when one is so embedded into our subconscious.

Cruel words are sadly common, but physical or even sexual cruelty are also enacted upon children, and the memories of these actions, too, can reverberate for years.

You may know someone who had a very challenging childhood growing up, and if you do, you have likely seen the ripple effects of that early trauma. These people may leave their childhood and their families in the past, but as adults they may move on to instigating abuse in their own relationships, or they may numb themselves with drugs and alcohol.

Even if they avoid physical abuse of themselves (through substances) or others (through violence), people who were raised in an atmosphere of unkindness may themselves resort to being unkind to the people in their lives – the people they love. What we see in these situations is a cycle of pain that moves from one generation to the next.

Something that has surprised me over the years is that I have known people who went through incredibly difficult childhoods, and they have turned out beautifully. We might look at this outcome as being seemingly miraculous. How did they do it? How did they end the cycle of pain?

This is a topic I have explored with close attention for decades, and what I have found is that love makes its mark in people’s lives. When people who have had challenging upbringings turn out helpful, loving, and kind, I believe we are seeing ripples of a loving presence that made its mark on their lives, perhaps outside of the home.

I really believe that no matter how challenging our young lives were, someone probably loved us unconditionally. Someone showed us unconditional kindness, even in the darkest of hours. It could be anyone. Are they angels? Are they beings that were sent to help us? Whatever they are, they’re with all of us, and the spark of their lovingkindness passes on and on.

I’ve never found anyone who didn’t have someone in their lives who showed them some kindness, some love, even when it seemed like everyone else in their lives was cruel to them.

Here’s what I know about kindness: It has a ripple effect. The love of a single kind, angelic presence can issue from them in wave after wave after wave, washing over and through us and continuing on to touch those in our path. For some, even with the horrible things that are happening in their lives, they are able to take this kindness and turn it into something beautiful.

All of us have opportunities in our lives to be kind to others – to say something encouraging, to treat them in a friendly way, to show expressions of kindness toward them – and when we do this, we create a ripple of kindness that radiates in two directions: outward and inward.

The kindness that radiates outward toward others can help them to improve their lives by giving them hope, by helping them through difficult times, or by putting a smile on their face. We often do not know the effects of our kindness on others, but we can be sure that it makes a difference. It could be that someone goes home with a happier heart, and thus is more likely to share kindness with loved ones – perhaps with children.

And beyond eliciting a simple smile, our stopping and making time for kindness to others might pull them out of dark despair. It might help them when we don’t realize that they’re having a hard time. It could even spare a precious life from being ended through suicide. We don’t know how far our ripples extend, but I believe they can go very far sometimes, and just by the mindset of love and care, we can help others to live an improved life.

Kindness is a source of hope for the hopeless. It opens the door to positive possibilities. When others are being kind to us and they really don’t have to be, we take that in. We say, “Oh, maybe there is love, and maybe I can let that love in and even love myself.” Even if we feel that we do not deserve kindness, we understand that someone else feels differently about us and our value and worth. Kindness loosens our bonds to let that love in, and as a result, we may begin to show compassion toward our own stoutly beating heart.

The ripple effects of kindness affect the people we come in contact with and the people they encounter after they leave us, and there is every reason to expect that the beat goes on and on and on. “It only takes a spark,” as the song says. The more kindness we show, the more the world around us will become a much more beautiful place. There is so much negativity and darkness in our world, but our kindness can be a light.

I remember once going on a tour of a cave. There is a moment in most such tours where the guide turns out the lights, and there is no dark like that. It is a fact of physics that light can’t bend; it can travel only in a straight line. Once we’re in a cave like that, we’ve moved through narrow passages and around corners and up and down slopes, and there was no way for a ray of light to follow us there. That would be physically impossible.

If someone in the tour group happened to have a watch with a glowing dial or a lighted digital display, what a difference that would make! That light, imperceptible in the light of day, would be so bright in a dark cave because it’s the only source of light to be found. Kindness is like this. When we’re in our darkest places, the spark of the simplest friendly gesture can illuminate our lives and guide us on our way.

When the lights finally do come on in this part of the standard cave tour, what an experience that is. It is almost blinding. Maybe this would be considered low light under normal circumstances; maybe there’s hardly any light at all. But kindness shines when people are in despair or struggling, and we can help people navigate by our example.

For the people in our daily lives – our friends and our family members – we have an opportunity throughout the day to share our kindness with them. Where we might come home to them and tease them, kid them, or make fun of them, we can instead choose a loving word that can encourage and lift them. This is something we can do throughout the day, wherever we are.

I have often counseled couples were struggling in their relationship. The main thing I try to impart to them is the importance of a tender word. I encourage them to say something friendly to them throughout each day to give each other hope and help them to feel love. We experience love through kindness, in romantic relationships, but also in our daily lives. For example, in the workplace, if we are a supervisor with employees who report to us, we can correct them, but for every correction, we should give them dozens of words of encouragement, too.

Sometimes people choose to be unkind to us. When this happens, a good choice can be to walk away and put distance between ourselves and the ugliness. Another alternative? We can be kind back to the person who has chosen to treat us cruelly. We are never required to be giving to those who take from us, emotionally or otherwise, but it is an option we might want to try, and a potent one. Unlikely as it seems, kindness is one of the most important forces in the universe.

I mentioned that kindness can radiate outwards toward others, but it can also radiate inwards towards ourselves. When this happens, we open ourselves up to happiness.

The truth is, happiness is only possible through kindness. We are not going to find happiness in our hearts if we treat others with unkindness, because kindness is part of the journey toward happiness. We honestly do need to be kind toward others if we want to find peace in our lives.

Those people who are kind are much more likely to be happy in life. They don’t have to look in the mirror and say, “I’m a cruel, unkind person.” Instead they can say that even if people are treating them unkindly, they can be kind toward others.

It is really important that we understand the value of maintaining boundaries when we are dealing with cruel and sadistic people. Everyone needs kindness in their lives, but those who would choose to abuse you do not need their kindness to come from you. If someone is being cruel to you in your life right now, you should recognize that you have the right to get up and walk away – and if someone is being physically or sexually abusive, you must find a way to exit that situation the moment you can do so safely. There are resources to help, including the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233).

Beyond abuse, many of us find that the world is not a kind place, but even when we see others out to cause misery and unhappiness, we can choose to be that watch dial in the cave, or that circle of candles, lit one wick to the next until night starts to look like day. When we take the many opportunities we have to be kind throughout the day, we can feel the ripple effects of kindness inside of us, radiating through self-love.

There are many parts to living a happy life, but one of the main ones is kindness. I doubt you or I will ever meet a truly happy person who is unkind, because a person who is unkind will never find happiness. The ripple effects would be so damaging to themselves and to others in their lives.

You are reading this because you desire a life filled with happiness. Maybe we all want such a life, but you have taken steps to embrace happiness and to welcome it into your life. I have been talking about happiness for quite a long time, with individual, with groups, and with listeners and readers in various formats. I am always promoting the value of meditation – of finding that still, small voice inside of us, of getting in sync with nature, of slowing down our frenzied lives. I suggest making time for pleasure and counting our blessings. But one of the most important means to becoming happy is kindness. It’s the one component of a happy life that has no substitute and that must be our set point if we are to know the bliss we seek.

All of us are here in this human existence so that we can be happy and at peace. We can create happiness in ourselves by one means more than any other: by being kind. And because kindness ripples outward, we can make the world a better place if we work towards cultivating kindness in others.

Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is host and producer of the Happiness Podcast, with over 8 million downloads. He is the author of 13 books, TV show host, Psychology Today blogger, and corporate trainer, has been studying the actions it takes to reach the highest levels of human achievement for decades, and he wants to share what he knows with you.

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