Daily Acts of Kindness
The Lessons Learned
Several years ago, I participated in a year long program for master instructors called The Ultimate Black Belt Test. This program was developed by one of my friends, Tom Callos, a practicing martial artist, activist and teacher, with over 40 years of experience.
As part of my test, I had to complete 50,000 push ups, 50,000 crunches, 50,000 jump ropes, walk/bike 1,000 miles, journal every week, record 1,000 acts of kindness, chose and write about 10 living heroes, mend 3 relationships, right 3 wrongs, raise money for charities, etc. The goal of the year long test was to challenge us physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s probably one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. And I didn’t do it just once, I participated in another UBBT two years later.
Aside from the physical aspects of the test that were pretty challenging, I think I struggled the most with recording 1,000 acts of kindness. For me, I grew up holding doors open for women, using nice manners and helping others. I was very uncomfortable taking credit and checking off something I did most every day for much of my life already. So in the beginning, I was determined that my 3-4 daily acts had to be extraordinary, something really special.
LIKE really big on a scale of 1 to 10, at least a 9 or 10!
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ” —Aesop
I lasted for about 4 days with this strategy and then almost came to a standstill. I was running out of ideas for my big acts of kindness. Days passed by and I was starting to fall behind with this challenge. I was growing more and more frustrated until one day, I decided I would sit down and really try to understand what the purpose of this task was.
And that’s when it HIT me!
It was an “ah hah” moment!
I suddenly realized it really doesn’t matter what the act of kindness is….simply waking up each day thinking how I could make a difference in the life of someone I knew or even a complete stranger, was all that mattered.
So instead of focusing on a big thing, I just did whatever came naturally to me and suddenly I was recording 7-8 acts of kindness a day without really trying. More importantly, I watched how my acts of kindness had a ripple effect on others who were determined to “pay it forward”.
The lesson was so powerful, that I have incorporated acts of kindness in my karate curriculum in my school. In addition to the acts, my students also need to raise awareness and money for a charity of their choice prior to testing for their black belt.
Each of us has the power to change the world, one SMALL act of kindness at a time.
Go out and start TODAY!