A Good Deed Brightens Your Day

I was having one of those Very-Bad-No-Good-Days. One of the worst I’d had in a long while. When along came a total stranger and he turned my day and my attitude around. I’m not just saying that. There is science that shows good deeds and volunteer work reduces stress. I hope the story of a good deed brightens your day will do that for you. It may even inspire you to pay-it-forward.

Image of a rainbow of heart shared from one hand to another a visual representation of a good deed brightens your day

The Day Started Cold

In August 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was still going strong here in the USA. Because of my husband’s precarious health, we had kept a strict self-quarantine. Those precautions meant we’d both been healthier than we’d been in years. Then came the bad day.

It was chilly outside but still August so I didn’t want to turn on the heat. So we layered up. As all the ladies know, 99% of women’s clothing does not have adequate pockets. Certainly not pockets that would hold even an old iPhone.

I put on one of my husband’s soft, well-worn flannel shirts. Comfy and warm! And it had a chest pocket deep enough for my phone. I wore it all day.

Image of woman in indian print flannel shirt with an iPhone peeking out of the chest pocket.

The Trouble Starts

Our well-trained dogs followed their routine and began pestering me for their evening meal. I bent to retrieve their bowls in order to fill them. One bowl up, no problem. Second bowl—my iPhone went kerplunk into the large and full-to-the-brim water dish.I shrieked and snatched it out of the water as quickly as I could.

I dried it off and let it air dry the inner parts. Then I tried to make a call. I could call out, but the person on the other end of the phone line couldn’t hear me. At all. That person saw my caller ID and called me back.

But I couldn’t pick up their call.

Only One Solution

I tried a couple of other internet tips to dry my phone out. To no avail. I fought panic. Until the pandemic, my husband’s health issues caused him to fall frequently. Rarely could I help him back up by myself. If my son wasn’t available, I had to call 911. That happened about once every two months, even during the pandemic.

I quickly decided there was only one solution. I’d buy a new phone at the store down the street from us. Lo-and-behold, they did not have a single iPhone in stock. The telephone company we used didn’t have any. Nor did any nearby stores. I finally located one iPhone for sale at a store thirty minutes away. I placed an online order for it.

The Next Problem

Then I faced another conundrum. My husband was wheelchair bound. His physical weakness made transferring him into a regular vehicle difficult and dangerous for both of us. We planned to get a wheelchair van, but hadn’t found one yet. And though I rarely left my husband’s side for more than 15 minutes, we decided that his good health and our need for a working telephone out weighed my sense of caution.

So I studied the map (remember, no cell phone) and copied the directions. With both the written directions and a map in the car with me, I took off to an unfamiliar-to-me part of the city.

And Things Got Worse

image of a silver car with a flat tire and a jack ready to be pumped in order to change the tire

I was nearly at the store when I felt the car lurch. Then the flub-flub-flub of a fat tire filled my ears. I was on a busy, uphill stretch of a four-lane divided highway with a curb and no shoulder space. There was nowhere to pull over. I couldn’t call for help. And I had no idea where a gas station was. So, I turned on my hazard lights, moved to the right-hand lane, and slowed waaaay down. Hoping that at the top of the hill, I’d find a station or some place to pull over.

About half-way up the hill, my tire started sounding like parts of it were flapping in the wind. Crap! I slowed even further.

At the top of the hill was a Quick Trip, a convenience store and gas station. It offers no service for vehicles.

Asking for Help

Hoping I could add air to the tire, I pulled in to their lot and parked at the air pump. I should have known. My wheel sat on shreds of the tire. No way it would hold air. No way I was driving anywhere else. And I couldn’t loosen the lug nuts on my own. I’d have to find a phone, call a tow truck, and have them change the tire for me.

Inside the QT, I asked for a telephone and a telephone book. All I got from the teenaged clerk was a blank stare. I explained my cell phone wasn’t working, needed to call a tow truck, and repeated my request. Again with the blank look. I asked to speak to the manager. (No, I did not have AAA.)

A Little Help Better than None?

The manager was a pleasant woman who offered me her cell phone. Thank you, I said, but I don’t know where the closest tow truck or service station is or a phone number to call. She graciously looked up a number on her phone, dialed it, and handed the phone to me. I explained my situation to the person who answered the telephone. The tow service person told me it would be an hour or more before they could “get to me.” I didn’t want to wait an hour fearing my husband would fall and no one would know. I asked the manager if there was another tow service I could call. When she heard how long a wait I’d have, she offered to help me.

As we walked out to my car, she explained she had a bad back and wouldn’t be able to help a lot. Great.

A Good Deed Brightens My Day

Image of a man's hands using a wrench on the lug nuts of a tire

There was a sedan parked next to my car. We reached my car and the man in the sedan got out of his car and asked if I needed help.

The young, red-headed gentleman was in shorts and sandals. He changed my tire quickly and efficiently. Refused my offer to pay him something, or buy something from Quick Trip. He gave me directions to where I needed to go and drove off without even telling me his name.

He acted out of the kindness of his heart. And while he wanted no reward, he earned a ton of points toward many blessings that day.

I got to the store, and after a few issues, finally got my new iPhone and could drive home safely. To my immense relief, my husband hadn’t fallen during my extended absence.

The Moral of This Story

Image of a book opened to the quote "Never underestimate the power of a kind word or deed."

I will remember that young man for the rest of my life. His good heart, his good deed, not only brightened my day but meant I got home sooner. He knew nothing about me, yet lightened my worries. And though I thanked him profusely, I will always feel like I owe him.

He not only helped me in my time of need, he restored my belief in the goodness of people.

I tell this story often because a good deed brightens your day. It reminds me that doing a good deed and being kind brightens yours and at least one other person’s day. And retelling the story brightens even more people’s day. So think about that the next time you’re out and see someone in need. A moment of kindness will last forever. Won’t you brighten the day for all of us? Share your stories of a good deed in the comments. 

Use Your Kind Voice When You Need One

Are you at the point where all you see around you is thanklessness, faultfinding, and anger? A lot of us are. Perhaps it’s time to take a deep breath and check in on ourselves. So many stressors in the world, in the news, in our daily lives, many of us have forgotten to be compassionate to ourselves. Do you use your kind voice when you need one?

Image of a stylized brown tree with curly branches. On each branch is a fruit labeled joy, generosity, patience, love, gentleness, kindness, self-control, faithfulness, peace. Across the base of the tree is the phrase This fruit is always in season. Do you use your kind voice when you need one?

Stop Black & White Thinking

Many of us look at our day, our less-than-perfect accomplishments, our didn’t get it done list, and our emotions in black and white terms. We pronounce ourselves and our accomplishments as good or bad, positive or negative, and as a success or a failure. If we experience sadness, disappointment, or other so-called negative emotions, we berate ourselves for not being more positive. Or worse, for being a bad person. We judge ourselves and find ourselves imperfect.

Don’t judge, get curious. Don’t ignore or deny your feelings. Look at the moment, at what those uncomfortable emotions you’re experiencing. Realize they are normal. Consider what those emotions are trying to tell you.

Only dead people never get stressed, never get broken hearts, never experience the disappointment that comes with failure.

Susan David

Ms David says when you stop judging yourself and your emotions, you’re fifty percent of the way to being self-compassionate. Watch this Ted Talk by psychologist Susan David.

Be Kind to Yourself

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you into something else is the greatest accomplishment.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you look at your flaws, find gratitude for what you do have rather than what you don’t like. Don’t think—ugh, I am tone deaf. Be grateful that you can hear the music. When you think, I am so stupid—be grateful you’re able to see, grateful that you can learn to do better.

Stop doing harmful things because that’s a way to be kind to yourself. If you over indulged, don’t judge yourself. Be clear that it wasn’t helpful or kind and you’d like to be kinder to yourself in the future.

Take care of yourself as an act of kindness.

Buy yourself flowers. Take yourself out on a date.

Indulge in a bubble bath or an hour of reading. Color in a coloring book.

Forgive yourself over and over and over. You are imperfect. You will mess up again and again. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and remind yourself that messing up is part of the human condition. Apologize to others if needed, but apologize to yourself. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. A kinder you will try again until you succeed.

LifeHack recommends that you create a brag bucket. Drop a note into the bucket each time you are kind to yourself. Add a note when you accomplish something. LifeHack also says to look at your notes at the end of the year. Yes, that would be wonderful. But look at your notes at the end of the week. See how much better you feel when you focus on using your kind voice. 

Try a Little Kindness

Loving yourself is healing the world!

Jaymie Gerard

If you need more help with finding your kind voice, try using some of the same steps discussed in 5 Steps to Your More Joyful Life. With all the stress and problems in the world and daily life, you deserve a little kindness.

Try a Little Kindness” is an older song by Glen Campbell. It’s about being kind to others. Be sure to listen for how being kind to others can also be ways to be kind to yourself.

You’re doing the best you can. If you didn’t accomplish as much as you wanted, if you weren’t as kind as you wished you’d been, you will do better from now on. You will do better when you use your kind voice when you need one.

Let’s Celebrate International Literacy Day

It is September 8th. Let’s celebrate International Literacy Day. Perhaps you wonder why we should have an international literacy day. Why? Because even though you can read this, there are more than 7 million people in the world who cannot read. Think of it, 16% of the world’s population cannot read or write. And most of the illiterate are women.

Image of the world from space and a stack of colorful books above the phrase: Happy international literacy day

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.

Vera Nazarian


Why International Literacy Day?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) created International Literacy Day in 2000. UNESCO stresses “the most powerful accelerator of sustainable development” is the ability to read and write. 

Since wars begin in the minds of men and women, it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace must be constructed.

UNESCO

UNESCO’s founding vision was born in response to a world war that was marked by racist and anti-Semitic violence. Seventy years on and many liberation struggles later, UNESCO’s mandate is as relevant as ever. Cultural diversity is under attack and new forms of intolerance, rejection of scientific facts and threats to freedom of expression challenge peace and human rights. In response, UNESCO’s duty remains to reaffirm the humanist missions of education, science and culture.”

The theme for International Literacy Day 2021 is “Literacy for a human-centered recovery: Narrowing the digital divide.”

Reasons Literacy Is Important

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.

Jacqueline Kennedy

Brain Health—Using our brains daily to read, write, and work with numbers keeps brain cells healthier. It may reduce your chance to develop a dementia like Alzheimers.

Community—Reading and writing skills increase the contributions a person will or can make to help improve their community.

Communication—Reading and writing helps us understand ourselves and express ourselves better.

Employment—Literacy gives one more opportunity to advance up the social-economic ladder. We can break the cycle of poverty by providing everyone with the gift of literacy.

Personal Dignity and Self-worth—The ability to read and write empowers us.

Understanding—As Jackie Kennedy said, reading enlarges your world. When you read about other people, your worldview expands.

How You Can Celebrate

People don’t realise how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.

Malcolm X

If you are reading this, you probably live in a predominately literate country. You may wonder how you can celebrate this day. How can you help those unable to read or write?

A few suggestions:

  • Do you know your country’s literacy statistics? Google them. The number of people around you who are functionally illiterate will shock you.
  • If you have the means, donate digital devices to UNESCO or other organizations and support this year’s theme.
  • Donate books to your local elementary school (always check with them for appropriate material first).
  • Give a book to someone. Adults and children will appreciate that you thought of them.
  • Start a little library, or if there’s one nearby, donate to it.
  • Volunteer at your local elementary schools or community organizations to help children and adults improve their reading skills or learn to read. (I did this one year, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.)
  • Read to someone. (Perhaps at a school, a nursing home, library, or community center. In person or by an online service.)

Celebrate International Literacy Day

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.

Frederick Douglass

You are a reader. That’s one of your gifts. We often get caught up in the daily stresses and activities of our lives. We forget that there are those who aren’t as gifted, have economic or physical barriers to reading. Please, won’t you take a moment and celebrate International Literacy day? Share your gift. Enlarge and free someone else’s world.

Is The Self-Sabotage Strong in You?

You’re a creative. Yet, something’s not working. Call it writer’s block or a funk, or whatever. It is keeping you from taking the next step in your current work. Maybe you can work, but oh-so-slowly. When that happens, you need to ask yourself a question. Is the self-sabotage strong in you?

Image shows a profile of a head with the brain visible. A magnifying glass shows the silhouettes of two people one trying to run against the other whose hands are against the runners head--symbolic of self-sabotage

What is Self-Sabotage?

Any behavior that your success, despite your own wishes, dreams, or values, is self-sabotage. That’s a big definition. 

We human beings are really inventive when it comes to self-sabotage. We forget or make a critical mistake. Or we get on social media, play games (online or in person), clean house, or help others, or — the list goes on and on and on. Look at that list. You can easily identify “bad” behaviors. But some actions can be part self-sabotage and part doing what needs to be done. When it’s a dual-purpose act, you often don’t even know you’re being self-destructive.

Every time self-sabotage succeeds, it destroys more of your self-confidence, self-esteem, motivation, and even relationships with other people. And when it succeeds, it convinces your deepest self that you can’t be creative or be successful or be the person you want to be.

Why Do You Self-Sabotage?

Image of a shirt in the cross-hairs. On the shirt are words of self-sabotage such as rejection, failure, uncertainty, inadequacy, etc.

The reasons for our destructive behavior are as many what we do. Most often, self-sabotage has roots in lack of confidence or low self-esteem. Feeling unworthy? Worried about what someone will think if you fail? Feel out of control? Those feelings often cause negative self-talk. 

Maybe your accumulated dysfunctional and distorted beliefs make you feel you’re incapable, or that you can’t express your feelings, or the only way to protect yourself is to destroy what’s important.

Help Yourself Reverse Self-Sabotage

First, you’ve realized that your behaviors are self-defeating. Good for you! That’s a huge step forward. 

You can’t fix what you don’t recognize and understand. Document what you were feeling and doing right before you self-sabotaged. Also, record how you felt afterwards. (Are your eyes rolling because I’m urging you to document your feelings? Documenting is more than journaling. You can dictate or draw or create a collage that represents those feelings.) Over time, you will see a pattern. Once you recognize the pattern, you can learn to interrupt and stop that behavior.

Sometimes abuse by family or others has driven those negative thoughts and feelings deep inside. This article may not help you. If you are overwhelmed, please get some help. Talk to your doctor, or your pastor. Call your local help line or call or text the national toll-free Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-4347.

Develop the Tools You Need

You may need to replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Maybe you need a ritual to get your brain to shift gears from the day job to the thing you love doing. Check out my posts on your Mental Health First Aid Kit and a Well-Stocked I-Can-Do-It Toolbox.

Build your self-confidence by breaking your task down to its smallest parts. Take baby steps. Do one small thing. Then congratulate yourself. You took a step! That’s so important. Recognize what you’ve done. And keep recognizing how you fight to express your creativity. You can do it! 

Psychology Today has suggestions of how ways to stop procrastination, sabotaging relationships, and negative self-talk.

Is the Self-Sabotage Strong in You?

I believe we all suffer from self-sabotage at some point in our lives. Some of us struggle with it more than others. I know I have. Sometimes, I’ve set myself up by providing myself with lots of distractions. One way I try to combat this is to schedule and protect my writing time. I protect my writing time from intrusion by others and, most of all, from myself. How? With one small step. I just start even if I don’t know what to write. I write about how I don’t know what to write and what I think I should write. Then I argue with myself about why that’s not the thing I should write. And before I know it, I’m writing the scene I thought I didn’t know how to write.

Is the self-sabotage strong in you? Are you still struggling with it? Do you have a trick you use to turn the negative into a positive? Please share below.

Comfort for Your Monday Moaning Blues

Traditionally Monday is the worst day of the week. I get it. I used to moan about Monday. Every. Single. Week. And it never got better. Monday became a thing to dread. Until I remembered some childhood lessons. There is comfort for your Monday moaning blues in these quotes. Revisiting the wisdom in some children’s books might even be a cure.

Image background is a rumpled sheet and a rumpled pink blanket. Foreground has a sign that reads "I need cake because Monday." and a yellow tray holding a blue plate of cake. Read this post Comfort for you Monday Moaning Blues

How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.

A Light In The Attic, Shel Silverstein 

Attitude is a Choice

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.

The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper

The story of The Little Engine That Could is about a happy little train carrying toys and food for girls and boys. But the engine breaks down on the wrong side of the mountain. Large, powerful engines pass by and none of them will help. Finally, a little blue engine comes. She’s never gone over the mountain before, but she thinks she can do it. And she does. 

Next Monday, listen to your co-workers. How many of them are vocalizing Monday moaning blues? How many times does their attitude affect the cheerful or okay people?

If you meet Mondays with dread because Mondays are “always” terrible. They will always be terrible. Find something good today about the day—and mean it. “It’s a beautiful day.” Stop before you grumble about being stuck inside. Whatever you focus on, you will carry with you the rest of the day.

Believe

Life will never be the same because there had never been anyone like you… ever in the world before.

On the Night You were Born, Nancy Tillman

Closely related to attitude, belief is something deeper. It’s part of the core of who you are. Sometimes, life wears you down and you doubt who you are. But belief is magic. Believe you can fly through Mondays and nothing will get you down.

The moment where you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever being able to do it.

Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie 

But there was one other thing that the grown-ups also knew, and it was this: that however small the chance might be of striking lucky, the chance is there. The chance had to be there. This particular bar of chocolate had as much chance as any other of having a Golden Ticket.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

Sometimes, I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what to know. You are the one who’ll decide where to go.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss

No More Monday Moaning Blues

If these quotes from beloved children’s books haven’t cured you, did they help you get through this Monday? If not, reach into your Mental Health First A

id Kit and use a tool to help make this and all the Mondays in your future better.

Image of a cartoon style Glinda the Good witch with big green eyes, purple and pink hat and dress, and a black broom. She offers comfort for your monday moaning.

You had the power all along, my dear.

Glinda the Good Witch, The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum

Listen to Glinda. You have the power to cure your Monday moaning blues. How’s it going?