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Being a positive force...

Monday, December 06, 2010

Thiagram inspired me by writing about this daily spark reflection that says:

"One small action leads to another, which can lead to many. Your actions may inspire others to do the same, with far-reaching results that completely outweigh that first effort. You'll probably have no idea how much of a total effect your actions will have. But that kindness will often be paid back two-, three- or even tenfold. If not from the person you helped, then from someone further down the "kindness" chain. So go try it out!"

In her comments somebody writes that she is still ashamed that she did not interfere many years ago when somebody needed help.

My experience is that it takes practise to help strangers! We tend to think that it is "just" to go out there and be nice and good things will happen. But reaching out takes an effort.
I am swedish, our national character is that we are shy and reserved. We are very scared of interfering or disturbing. So when things happen we stand paralyzed by the side and have a hard time to do something. Not because we are cowards, not because we are evil – we are not used to it and therefore we hesitate – that is my theory... emoticon

The conclusion is that it takes practise. We have to start by reaching out when it is safe and involves no risk of embarrassment.

To me the "practise" is to say hello to strangers while waiting somewhere. No chit-chat, just "in this weather you really need woollen gloves" or something.
A good practise is also to ask for help with little things. Ask for change when you need a shoppingchart (you need a coin to release it from the stack)

My theory is that there are a lot of small things you can do to have a better contact with your surrounding every day. If you lift this to the surface and focus and give yourself the challenge of getting contact say five times a day – you will get in the habit of being aware and present – and the day your help is needed you will not feel shy or hesitate because you are not sure if you interpret the situation right...

To reach out is harder than you think if you are not in the habit of doing it. Habit can be learned. But as everything – it is easier to learn and change if you feel safe and the steps are not to big.

I think we tend to ignore that there is a personal risk of embarrassment to reach out (what if we interpreted the situation wrong and were not needed, how embarrassing!). By ignoring that fear we tend to judge ourself when we do not help, because we have not taken the importance of practising in a safe surrounding seriously.

I hope this comes out in english the way I argue in swedish...

Today I will stretch a little bit outside my comfort zone and make contact without being asked – I never know when the competence of helping strangers will be needed!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SILLYHP1953
    Very thought-provoking blog and made me take a good look at myself.
    3607 days ago
    Great blog. I started doing some of these things over the last few months. I really enjoy chatting with people at the bus stop. There is a senior citizen's housing building there, and I really enjoy speaking with the seniors. I find myself thinking more about my own age and how my life might be then. I especially enjoy hearing about their activities and social lives. It gives me a stronger sense of community to have made these acquaintances. Now, to break the ice with the young folks who have their noses and fingertips attached to their phones
    3612 days ago
  • no profile photo THIAGRAM
    I'm so glad that you expanded on the things I didn't even really think about. I have those shy and reserved feelings also. I wonder if it's the Danish in me? I do believe you are right it takes practice to develop the ease of reaching out and helping others! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    3613 days ago
    Today I will stretch a little bit outside my comfort zone and make contact without being asked – I never know when the competence of helping strangers will be needed! emoticon
    3613 days ago
    You always write about things I need to hear at the time!

    Your blog is a reminder to us all that we too can benefit from offering a little kindness to others, whether they are friends, family, neighbours, or complete strangers... all it takes is a smile to brighten someone's day, and that is a great first step.

    I remember my mother saying to me that her mother had told her when she was young that to be truly happy and content each day, we need to have some form of positive contact with three strangers each day. She was told that by my grandmother, who was told by her mother. I have passed that on to my own girls, and my grandson told me a couple years ago when I was upset about my mother's diagnosis of terminal cancer, that I would feel happier if I went for a walk and smiled at three people. I did, and he was right. Just small steps, its not always easy for us to do these things, but the benefits are certainly there for us all if we can manage to do so.

    Chris. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3613 days ago
    You are not alone in being shy and reserved. And what a blessing we get when we learn to reach out. Awesome blog. emoticon
    3613 days ago
    Practice and small steps... I agree.
    3613 days ago
    You expressed this very well! I completely agree... and you don't be Swedish to be shy about approaching others. It's an awkward thing at first.

    Thank you for your timely message!
    3613 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8734453
    Your message is perfect. And yes, I think you're right. It does take practice and small steps to reach out to others, especially if one is very indepently-minded. Whether it is to ask for help or to give it. It's also easy to just give money to a cause/charity, but to actually get involved in it can be very daunting. But even just that smile in greeting a complete stranger on my morning walk is so uplifting and so good for the soul. emoticon
    3614 days ago
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