- It’s okay to step away from social media. If it makes your heart feel like it’s dying every time you look at it, you are not helping anybody by constantly confronting a wall of pain. You don’t owe it to anybody to be present online.
- You can be concerned about what’s happening in the world and still enjoy the things that you like. Sometimes that’s the only way to stay sane.
- There is still a place in the world for kindness, compassion and happiness. Don’t let that get crushed.
- For every horrible person, there are many others who are wonderful. Connect with those people. Let them into your life.
- Everyone reacts to things differently. A lot of people are in a state of mourning. Just because you are not responding the same way as others does not make your feelings invalid.
Be nice to someone. Right now. You don’t even have to spend money or pick up the phone.
Send them an email. Write a note and leave it on their desk.
Message them on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr with a fond memory and tell them that you’ve been thinking about them.
Text them a picture of something you bought together or a DVD that you watched together.
Make something for someone. Leave a dollar on their keyboard for a snack.
And afterwards, relish in the feeling that you made someone’s day. It’s like magic.
It’s easy to block people out. Well, maybe it’s not easy so much as it is not hard. We walk out of our houses in the morning, past our neighbors. We get into our car, we drive to the office. We sit at our desk and do our work. We go home.
It isn’t hard to forget how many lives are happening around us. We’re in our own heads, we’re in our own worlds. We are functioning to survive and thrive based on our own needs, wants and desires. It isn’t difficult to block out everything that’s not in line with those things.
But something I have discovered in recent years is that being kind is so very, very crucial. And it’s just as easy as ignoring people, but it reaps three times the rewards in the world around you.
Here are a few inoffensive ways that you can make someone’s day with less than 30 seconds of effort:
- Wish someone a good day. If you’re about to leave for the day, and someone is walking to their own bus stop/car/whatever, tell them, “I hope you have a great day.” Immediate smile.
- Compliment someone’s taste. “I really love that bag. It suits you.” “That necklace is gorgeous.”
- Thank someone for something, and be genuine about it. “Hey, thanks for letting me park in front of your house. This weather is awful, and I feel so much safer not going all the way around the block.” (Note: this is one I use in Pittsburgh a lot in the winter, if possible).
- Support someone’s dream. Artists really need this, and 9 times out of 10, they’re not going to ask for it. “I saw that piece of art you posted online. It’s really great. I hope you keep sharing your work!” You have nothing to lose by encouraging someone’s creativity, and the world has everything to gain from their self-expression.
- Treat someone to a little special treat. Leave a dollar on the snack machine. Offer to buy someone a soda.
Easy. And the joy that immediately comes back from a small act like this is profound. It will make their day, and it’s going to make yours too.
This week, I’ve been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. This was a Christmas morning surprise of a book – I was browsing Audible with my monthly credit in hand, and it popped up in the new releases. A book on creativity by the Ted-talking, globetrotting, smooth-talking (not in the sleazy sense, but in the read-me-my-library sense) authoress with the mostest? Yes, please!
In the midst of her discussions on being kind to your creative spirit, I hit a chapter called “Day Jobs.” My throat tightened just a bit. I was a little nervous, because I was afraid that this was going to completely take the wind out of my sails. Was the world’s foremost authority on eating, praying and loving going to take over what I had started?
Okay, I’m being a little dramatic. I was actually really excited about hearing what she had to say.
I did not expect that she would so perfectly summarize what I’ve been trying to convey with How to Have a Day Job from day 1.
To yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away. Because you’re making really loud noises, and your face looks weird when you do that.
She also talked about how she kept up her day jobs through three book publications before she quit to write full time. Three books. And admitted that if the third book hadn’t been such a success she would still be working day jobs so she didn’t have to put that pressure on herself, her craft and her finances.
So if you’re wondering why I keep talking about this, about all of this, about balancing your life and your paycheck, about managing your sanity while you clock in and out, this is it. It isn’t fair or nice to say to your vocation, “Hey, pick up the slack, buddy.” Who would stick around for that kind of abuse? Feed yourself, pay your bills, and give your muse the time it deserves to flourish comfortably.