This weekend’s “no-fail” mindfulness challenge makes me smile, which is exactly the point. Earlier this week, we contemplated what it means to make a sacrifice, as many around the world prepared to welcome in the season of Lent and the requisite question of “what are you giving up this year?” Even if Lent doesn’t register on your radar, we talked about the insights that “going without” can give us into ourselves, and how we respond to – as well as what comprises – our impulses, cravings and challenges to our willpower.
Despite all that food for thought, our real topic this week was flipping that script… and thinking about this time (or any that you designate) as an opportunity to add to the world, instead of just delete from your experience of it. You can do this through low-impact, limited effort gestures that, when done with a whole and open heart, can make an exponential difference in someone else’s outlook. That’s my hypothesis, anyway, and this weekend, you’re going to test it out.
Seriously, the challenges are always “no-fail” because the effort is the work, but this weekend, you really have nothing to lose. The worst that can happen is that someone is so unused to having strangers be nice to them that they look at you a little sideways. There are worse things, trust me.
This weekend, do something nice for someone who isn’t expecting it. Give a compliment, carry a bag, hold a door. Maybe even buy a coffee, pay a toll or let someone ahead of you in line or in traffic. (I wrote about how this literally saved the day for me about two weeks ago.) In fact, why not be the overachiever I know you are and see how many small but mighty gestures you can offer throughout the weekend? Pile them on – the sky’s the limit.
If you’re wondering what all this has to do with mindfulness, consider where your awareness needs to be to make these sweet little things happen. You need to be fully present, and attentive to not only where you are, but the state of those around you. If you’re lost in your head, then you’re going to miss those little pockets of opportunity that present themselves for you to make a difference.
When you do extend that compliment or make that gesture, take a moment to check in with the emotions and physical sensations it creates in you to do so. That’s right, you can be mindful about how something you did because you were mindful made you feel. It’s like a layer cake of delicious mindfulness, you know? And since it’s already Friday as we speak, go ahead and dig in.
Have a sweet weekend!
Photo credit: Evan Kirby