Take The Kindness Challenge!

Act of Kindness Quote

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I think we would all agree that the world would be a much better place if we were all more kind to each other. So, just how kind do you think you are? Here’s a little quiz that should tell you exactly how kind or unkind you are. I would encourage you to take the quiz before and after you take “The 30 Day Kindness Challenge”. This little challenge is actually no little challenge. It’s part of a national research project from Shaunti Feldhahn , author of the book “The Kindness Challenge”. I highly encourage you to read the book, but even more so, I would encourage you to take “The 30 Day Kindness Challenge”.

Shaunti asserts that kindness doesn’t just change the person you are being kind to, it also changes you. She says that kindness is almost a kind of “superpower” that has the ability to “make you bulletproof”, “give you x-ray vision”, “melt through walls”, “makes the invisible visible”, and much more. In short, kindness changes lives. It’s certainly not the only thing you need to have a healthy relationship, but it is vital to the health of any relationship.

Now, granted this is tough challenge, but it may be one of the most important challenges you ever take. In short, here it is:

Pick someone with whom you want or need a better relationship. For the next 30 days, do the following three things:

1/Say nothing negative about them, either to them or about them to anyone else. 

2/Every day, find one positive thing that you can sincerely praise or affirm about your person and tell them, and tell someone else.

3/Every day, do a small act of kindness or generosity for that person. 

Shaunti says that these 3 aspects of kindness are like “three chemical elements that, when they come together, react and build something different, something remarkably beautiful, powerful, and above all, transformative.”

So, go ahead, take the challenge, and strengthen those kindness muscles. You may just be amazed at the results!

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9 Things Happy Couples Do For Each Other

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As you probably know by now, my wife and I lead a marriage enrichment class every Sunday morning at our church. We believe that the marriage relationship is the most important relationship, and it’s an essentially foundational relationship in our culture. As such, it’s something we should strive to work on all the time. Like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it.

I came across a cool little article from The Huffington Post titled “9 Things The Happiest Couples Do For Each Other Without Being Asked”. The article asks some relationship experts for some things that happy couples do for each other without being asked. Some are simple things like they check in on each other, or give each other a card “just because”. One that caught my eye that I really believe all couples should do is that they speak openly about their thoughts and feelings. The expert quoted, Samantha Rodman, says that when couples feel like it’s “pulling teeth to get each other to divulge any thoughts or feelings, a relationship can feel very lonely”. So true.

A marriage relationship has to be THE “safe place” to share our innermost thoughts and feelings without being judged or criticized. We have to allow each other that freedom to share. Who is the first person you call or talk to when something great happens? How ’bout when something awful happens? I really believe your spouse should be that someone you should talk to first. You want to share things immediately with your best friend, right? Well, your spouse should be your best friend.

Jimmy and Karen Evans lead a marriage ministry called “Marriage Today”. We use many of their teachings in our class. This a couple who’ve been married for decades and they’ve been through good and the bad. Jimmy defines “emotional intimacy” as the “ability to openly and safely express our emotions in an atmosphere of sensitivity, care, and emotional support. ”

All couples fight. It’s natural. Bottom line is that each half of the couple needs to know that the other half cares. Life is so much better knowing that your spouse cares. That is only accomplished when you are able to build an atmosphere where it’s safe to share ANY feeling and to know it’s valued and supported, and not judged or criticized. I hope you can create that atmosphere for your spouse.

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5 Ways to Be Selfless This Year

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Take a minute to think.

Think about all the problems in the world.

Now, think about all the problems in your life.

Chances are, what causes most if not all of those problems?

Selfishness.

All the quarrels, all the fighting, all the discord, all the conflict in the world can usually be traced back to one thing.

Selfishness.

Now, flip the script.

Think about how different the world would be if we all starting putting others first. Wouldn’t we start seeing FEWER quarrels, fewer fights and less discord?

So, how do we starting putting others first? How do become truly “selfless” in this selfish world? Here are five ways:

1/Practice gratitude. When you learn to truly appreciate all that you have and all that you have been given, you unleash a powerful ability…the ability to bless others. Really taking the time to count your blessings can fill your heart so much that you can’t help but put others first.

2/Learn to forgive and forget. To err is human right? Aren’t we all human? Haven’t you hurt others? Then why not forgive? The selfless person sees the situation from the other person’s perspective. Everyone has a reason for why they do what they do, right? When you can start to try to understand where that person is coming from, you can start to forgive them. Besides, God sent His only Son to die a painful death on the cross so that you could be forgiven. If He did that for you, shouldn’t you try to forgive others too?

3/Widen your horizons. Being selfless starts with seeing beyond your personal concerns. If you’re constantly consumed by your own problems and situation, you won’t have the time or energy to act selflessly. Having a greater awareness of the world is the first step to becoming more selfless. Listen when other people are talking. Yes – really listen! Don’t let your mind wander when someone is confiding in you about his or her troubles, or telling you an exciting story. Watch what’s going on around the world in the news. Sympathize with those who are suffering.
4/Consider other people’s feelings. If you understand how someone else feels, you’ll be more likely to feel empathy for that person. Try to put yourself in the other person’s situation. If you were the one experiencing the problem, how would you feel? How would you want to be treated?

5/Really Invest Yourself in Others. Again, take the time each day to really sit down and listen to at least 2 or 3 people. Ask them what’s going on in their life. Get them to open up to you. Be there with a listening ear, an attentive heart, and make them feel like they are the most important person in the world.

It really doesn’t take alot to be more selfless. We just have to be willing to put ourselves, our situation, and our concerns aside, and focus on others. That’s what makes life worth living. What’s the old saying? “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

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The Awesome Power of Words

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Whoever came up with the saying “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” didn’t have a clue about the true power of words. Since I’ve been blessed with the “gift of gab”, I’ve learned first hand on more than one occasion that words are a powerful tool. You can use them for good, or you can use them for evil. Words rightly spoken, at the right time, in the right way can infuse light and love into even the darkest moment. On the other hand, words spoken with malice can leave a massive wake of destruction in their path.

There are so many times in my life that I’ve caused deep hurt with harmful words. I wish I could take them back, but once they are out there, you simply cannot take them back. All you can do is ask for forgiveness, and pray that the person you harmed will find it in their heart to forgive you.

The point is, we are not promised tomorrow. That is to say that you don’t know if today will be your last day on this planet. Likewise, you don’t know if today is the last day for the recipient of harsh words you might spew.

If it’s one lesson in life I keep having to learn the hard way, it’s that “God gave you two ears and 1 mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you talk”. That’s me over and over in my life. So, take it from me, don’t just open your mouth to switch feet. Choose your words wisely.

Proverbs 18:23 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Those who love it will eat its fruits”.

I can’t add another word to that.

So, the next time you feel an overwhelming desire to speak harshly, ask yourself these three questions:

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