Right now it’s hard to know how to move forward. The problems facing our nation feel overwhelming. To move forward we’re going to need resources like caring, compassion and especially courage. How do we find our inner strength right now?
Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
It’s ok to feel anxious and fearful. But what I hope for all of us is not to be paralized by fear, instead to have fear and also be able to act.
Another beautiful thought about courage comes from Lao Tzu, “From caring comes courage.” I love this idea. If we care we can muster the courage to act.
How practicing small acts of kindness helps
Small acts of kindness help us practice love, generosity and compassion, and they also act as a positive feedback loop helping us grow caring and also inner strength. When we act with love and kindness we turn toward the other person and that is a critical first step. And when we take time to see that other person we start to care about them.
When I feel overwhelmed, I ask what’s one small step that I can take now?
Is there someone in your neighborhood that needs a little help? How about an elder who can’t get to the store easily due to the pandemic. Or an aunt who is unable to leave her house as she is frail. Or your friend down the block who is struggling. And let’s not leave out you, yes, you.
Can you call once a week to help your aunt feel connected? How would that feel for her and for you? How about a note of encouragement for your friend? What would it feel like to write it and imagine her receiving your words? And what small act of kindness can you do for yourself? This is not selfish, taking care of you gives you more resources to care for others, and YOU MATTER.
And, if you pick up groceries for your shut in neighbor when you go to the store you help her. But you also both feel connection and joy. For you the joy is in being able to do something caring, for her it is being cared for and seen.
Taking one small step helps you both feel more hopeful. And in that hope, courage can grow.
When we have that kind of courage, to help another person, we encourage each other. And all these small steps and acts of kindness together have a cumulative effect that can become something big.
Build your inner resources
Generosity is a powerful force and a great tool for changing how we relate to ourselves and to others and even to our world. Being generous through doing small acts of kindness for friends, neighbors, strangers and even ourselves helps us grow more inner resources of resilience.
Generosity, including small acts of kindness, creates a sense of fullness in our lives, that we have something to give to others. And by expanding our circle of others we open ourselves up to caring for people who are not just our family and friends.
And in that caring, we can be courageous because we care.
What one step might you take?
Another way to become more courageous is to see the courage in you. By finding times in your life when you were courageous reminds you that you can be — and are — in fact courageous. This knowing helps you act in other situations that call for courage.
On June 25, you can explore your own experience and stories of courage with me in a 2-hour workshop. We’ll reflect and journal and share about our own courage. This is a small act of kindness you can take for yourself, one that builds your courage moving forward. Join here: wellfleetcircle.com/write-into-joy/
I want to remind you that I run a free Journaling session most Wednesdays. Each week we use a theme to practice journaling with reflection to build resilience and find joy. All are welcome, invite your friends and family if they would like to learn the power of reflective journaling. Sign up to join here.