Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It’s a time of year when I like to reflect on how I can serve others best. As a mother, I try to do it all. Feelings of insecurity can start to creep in – especially when I feel that I don’t measure up to the task. I use this time to focus instead on my strengths and how they can best be used. For me, I believe that God has given me gifts of encouragement and kindness.
The gift of encouragement focuses on practical applications. One can relate to others, in groups and individually, with understanding, sympathy, and positive guidance. A person who encourages can help another person move from pessimism to optimism. The phrase, “We rise by lifting others” comes to my mind when I think of encouraging others.
The gift of kindness focuses on love and grace. It is more than simply being nice. There can be a lack of sincerity in just being nice; whereas being kind is doing voluntary acts of kindness with intention. It’s selfless love. It’s being caring, compassionate, and unconditionally kind. Like love, it takes practice to understand and feel it.
When we offer these acts to others, we make people feel good; we pass along hope and promote peace.
Some examples of putting these gifts into action:
Be there to listen
All humans need somebody to listen. Listening with intent to a friend or family member can relieve stress, pressure and anxiety. Remove any distractions and look at them. Remember that being a good listener requires you to give your undivided attention. Listen to understand rather than for your turn to respond.
Smiling is one of the simplest superpowers that everyone has that can change the world. It is contagious and has a positive effect on our mental health and goes beyond the simple act of adding brightness to your face. It makes us feel better and acknowledged. Have you ever noticed that you feel happier around children? On average, they smile more than 400 times a day! The average person only smiles about 20 times a day. If smiling has the ability to reduce stress and spread happiness, I think we definitely need to be doing this more.
Write a positive online review
It’s easy to write a scathing review when we receive bad service; but how often do we take the time to promote good businesses within our communities? Taking the time to leave a positive review for a local business can make a difference in getting more revenue for that business owner and having more needs met within the community.
Write a handwritten note to someone
This act of kindness is a wonderful way to remind someone how much they matter – whether that person is an old friend or a complete stranger. A handwritten letter is more thoughtful and unique than email or text and is an excellent way to show someone that you care.
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without touching on gratitude. Most people like to feel appreciated. We all know that when others serve or provide for our well-being we should give thanks.
In contrast, I would add that when things aren’t going well, we should also give thanks. It’s through the difficulties that we find more within ourselves. We grow into the people God calls us to be.
One of the wonderful things about most of these gifts is that it doesn’t cost anything. Many times over, these gestures will not only benefit the recipient but also the giver. So while the world turns, one thing remains the same: there is great value in even the smallest act of kindness and encouragement.