December 20, 2020

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall

The global pandemic and all the political strife that has grown up around it have been the spark for rekindling our awareness of how interconnected we all truly are.  One of the most unexpected blessings of this very challenging year has been my increased awareness of how MANY people regularly go out of their way to be kind, generous and helpful….not just to their friends and neighbors, but also to complete strangers.

My annual Pay It Forward Challenge, where I ask my clients and blog readers to do at least one random act of kindness for someone during the Holiday Season, as a way of demonstrating our gratitude for our own blessings, has taken on special meaning for me this year.  I notice little acts of kindness every day by people all around me, in the grocery store, my neighborhood and Starbucks – everywhere I go.

The past several blogs have detailed many Pay It Forward acts of Gratitude-in-Action that my readers have shared with me so I can pass them along to you, in hopes they will inspire you to come up with your own personal ideas for “the kind of difference you want to make.”

As we wrap up the 2020 Pay It Forward Challenge with this blog, I wanted to share a few more stories, as well as the divine timing of an article I read just today in the Los Angeles Times about a Facebook Group that is dedicated to doing random acts of kindness (usually anonymously) year-round.  The group is called “Sparks of Kindness” and you can join it, as I just did.  The readers share their acts of kindness in the forum, giving each other ideas of small, fun, inexpensive ways they can make a difference in the world around them.

Since it was launched several years ago, Sparks of Kindness has grown to over 5,000 online members in about 40 countries, according to the founder, Debbie McFarland.  She is a photographer from Georgia who founded the group because she “found that there’s so many people that want to do good – they just don’t really know how to start.Sparks of Kindness has lists of ideas for “sparks,” or small acts people can do to brighten someone’s day and spread hope, love and joy around any time of the year.

Debbie launched the group several years ago, but interest has picked up a lot this year. “During this pandemic,” she says, “I think people are starting to realize that…every person you come into contact with is fighting some kind of battle, whether it’s appointments or unmet expectations of others or health or bullying….Everyone’s facing a battle, and if you can get one tiny spark to ignite hope within them, then it does something within them.”

Some ideas the Sparks of Kindness group members have shared are similar to what my blog readers have done, such as taking soup and biscuits to a sick mother, giving someone ahead in line $20 when his debit card didn’t go through and taking flowers to someone who could use cheering up.  Some very creative ones from other members that I particularly love include:

  • Leaving a ziplock bag of pennies next to a fountain with a note that said, “Take a penny. Make a wish! Hope your dreams come true!” 
  • Leaving a tin of cookies on the running board of an ambulance outside a nursing home with a note to the EMTs that said, “You’re AMAZING! Yes, You!”
  • Leaving snacks and water on the porch for the mail carrier and delivery drivers who are running around so fast right now, they rarely have time for a break.
  • Leaving notes in stores for others to find, such as “You’re beautiful just the way you are” in the cosmetics aisle or “This too, shall pass, hang in there” in the cold and flu remedy aisle.
  • My personal favorite listed in the L.A. Times article was someone who left a ziplock bag of quarters at the laundromat for anyone who needed change. It was a godsend for a young mother who put her toddler’s comforter in the washer, only to discover she didn’t have any money for the dryer.  After she went on the Sparks of Kindness Facebook page to post her thanks, a member bought her a new dryer.

Here are the final ones from our own Cup of Caroll readers, that are equally heartfelt gestures of generosity, love and kindness:

  • One of my clients who has really taken on the Pay It Forward Challenge in a big way just sent me this text: “I’m getting ready to deliver a homemade Mexican dinner with homemade Mexican chocolate sugar cookies to a friend and her family who’ve been quarantined;  Christmas Gifts for 2 Angel Tree kids who wouldn’t get presents otherwise; 3 products that a client wasn’t able to order due to them being out of stock (I had 3 extra for sample packets…he’s getting them at a discount!), and stopping by another friend’s place of business for his Christmas Customer Appreciation get-together. I feel very happy that I am making a difference in at least four families’ lives.  Oh, and one of the Angel Tree gifts I picked up, wrapped, and am delivering is for another friend who is totally swamped with her own business and family stuff going on.  It feels sooooo good to give!!”
  • A client told me about a kind deed she did for a long stretch of time after her direct sales upline leader’s loved one passed away. My client wrote her a short snail-mail note once a week for three months, simply expressing love and support and assuring her that she was not forgotten in her grief. The leader just recently replied with a note that said, “You will never know how much it meant to me.”
  • The teacher I wrote about in the last blog who taught her students about complete sentences by having them write three a day in their Gratitude Journals that start with “I am grateful for…” also had them write about “One thing I want to STOP doing after 2020 is…” and “One thing I want to START doing in 2021 is….”
  • Although we have plenty of money to buy presents, my wonderful husband Rick and I decided that this special Christmas, we will put that money toward worthy causes instead of stuff. We wrote Christmas cards to all our friends and family members, asking them to designate a charity they would like us to donate to in their name. They all loved the idea. In fact, I have never gotten such enthusiastic thanks for any gifts I have given them before!

As I said in the blog, a nice side benefit to the warmth you feel when you help someone else is that the Law of Attraction (“energy attracts like energy”) dictates that YOU will also be blessed whenever you do good for others.  True to form, I just received surprise gift card for our favorite supermarket from a friend and former client. The amount was exactly what I will be spending for our family’s Christmas feast that I recently ordered from there.

I send you and your loved ones heartfelt wishes for joy, health and prosperity for the rest of the Holidays and on into the New Year!  Next time, we will lay the groundwork for what needs to be emotionally and mentally completed for 2020 and begin to create a MUCH better 2021 for all of us!

PLEASE NOTE: The blog is taking the next week end off.  Merry Christmas and look for your next Cup of Caroll on Sunday January 3, 2021. 

*************** Give Yourself the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ******************

To schedule a F*R*E*E* “Jumpstart Your Success” 60 minute phone coaching session that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make them a reality, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.