Sometimes I need a challenge. They give me something to work towards and bring growth into my life. They are difficult and require thought, planning and action. Ah, there is nothing quite as satisfying as completion of a challenge. Remember the movie, A League of Their Own? I love the line that goes, “It is supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.”
I am challenging everyone who reads this to give it a try. I promise that with some thought, energy and a little time, you will reap the rewards of success. If you have never done this before you may be pleased with the result.
Think of someone you know fairly well and that you do not particularly like. It could be a neighbor. You know, the one that only mows their yard once a month or the one parks their car on the street where there is a hill or curve which causes others to risk an accident when they must drive around it. Perhaps it is a co-worker. Many offices have that person that always drinks the office coffee but never takes a turn to purchase supplies or is always short on cash when it is time to contribute to the coffee fund. The person could even be a relative. You get the idea.
This is your target. I challenge you to plan an intentional, but anonymous, act of kindness towards for person. Remember, it is the hard that makes it great. Doing nice things for people we know should be an everyday thing. Doing kind things for strangers, such as paying for the person behind you in the drive-through line, is fun for both the giver and receiver. But extending anonymous act of kindness to a person you know but don’t like, is tough work.
You must begin with thought. What does the person enjoy? What are their hobbies or interests? You will need to learn a few things about your target before you decide what your act of kindness will be. The act of kindness must be personalized. Buying them a random fast food gift card and leaving it taped to their door is kind, but it isn’t a challenge.
Keep it anonymous. If you don’t know much about the person you will have to do a little investigating. This is your opportunity to play junior detective (just don’t take it too far and be a creeper!). Don’t give yourself away by asking one of their friends, making them promise to keep your secret. Most people aren’t that good at secret keeping and you will not reap the full reward that comes from completing your mission.
Listen to what your target talks about. People talk about their passions. When you pass by their cubicle, house or car, you have an opportunity learn about them. Look for pictures or bumper stickers that inform you about their favorite team, sport, animal or vacation spot. With a little effort you can get an idea about things such as if they enjoy dressing up their home or space for the seasons or various holidays. You might even be able to learn about the foods, music and entertainment they prefer just by paying attention.
The first time I did this, I put together a basket of small items that I had learned through some investigation, were of interest to my target. Because she likes writing I bought some pens and a journal for her. The journal had a dolphin motif which I selected after noticing that she almost always wore a necklace with a dolphin charm. I noticed that she is a tea drinker and I included a box of Earl Gray, which seemed to be her favorite. I found a dolphin mug and put that in too. I included several other items, but you can tell from what I have listed that I didn’t spend a huge amount of money. I did however, spend a good bit of time learning about her, before I secured items that she would like and that fit my budget.
My focus made me pay attention to her personality characteristics. I started seeing her good qualities and even some things we have in common. I could still see her annoying tendencies, but now they were not so glaring.
Back then both of us were member of the same women’s group. I was surprised when the next monthly meeting rolled around that she talked about her gift asking if one of the women present had given it to her and how perhaps the card identifying the giver had been forgotten or had fallen off. She was so filled with joy as she talked about about the simple gift that she got a little teary. It was hard for me to not get teary too as I realized that she must have needed the small kindness I sent her way much more than I had imagined. My reward was that I was able to give her happiness. It is true that you can’t spread happiness without getting some on yourself.
Dear Readers, I can’t ask you to do something unless I am willing to do the same. There is a person that lives a couple of streets away that doesn’t keep their dog confined to their yard. I love dogs, but I have a pet-peeve about irresponsible pet owners. This dog is friendly enough but when I go for a run I can’t go down that street because the dog will come out and try to jump on me then follow me for half a mile or more making it impossible for me to continue running without risk of falling. The owner is also known in the area for either walking the dog off leash and allowing it to make deposits on others lawns or else walks the dog on leash which results in dog leave it’s poo on the street creating an obstacle course for walkers. runners and drivers. I do not like this person. This person is my challenge.
It won’t be easy. I admit my first thought was to give my target a pooper-scooper and a supply of pet waste bags. No. This is not about being passive-aggressive and trying to teach someone a lesson. I won’t include such items. If it brings joy to the person, even if I never know for sure, then it is worth it. I will report back on how this works our for me. But for now, I have a challenge and I best get started on it. Give it a try, I double dog dare you!!
Thanks for reading. Have a blessed week and please, come back and share how your challenge works out.
Shout out to the following for allowing use of their pictures in this week’s post: The United Nations, Faith McDonald, Matt Collamer, Clay Banks and Jukan Tateisi.