Ever feel like your gratitude quotient is lacking? Stress, a tragedy or life-changing event takes you out of the light and into the dark or, perhaps, the gray. When you feel in the midst of overwhelm, having an “attitude of gratitude” and doing for others can be very hard.
Sometimes we get to this time of year and look back, wondering what it’s all been for. At least, I do. There are simply those moments when finding grace and something to say, “Yeah, I’m thankful” for can be more difficult than others. And when that happens, it’s very easy to become curt, standoffish and irritable.
But you know what I realized while I was laying in bed not long ago doing a little mental prep for facing another day? There is an art to maintaining a kind, giving nature — inside and out. And it is a gift we not only share with others but ourselves. Embrace within. There’s a lot going on out there these days and “kind” can be very hard to come by. It is there, however, all around us when we least expect it and whether it’s a giant organization doing for others or individuals simply waving a thanks when you open space for them to merge their car into your lane, it provides a little ray of hope. The more you do and show it, the more you want to and the brighter the sun shines within your own heart.
If you’ve ever visited our AWAKE side, you’ve seen the groups who have made an impact on Jeff Bridges’ life by changing the lives of others every single day. The time of giving is now and always, and as we enter a season so commonly viewed as one of gifting, we’d like to share with you four amazing do-for-other-ers who make a difference everyday.
Come in from the rain (and read a book as well)
You probably already know this, but libraries around the country open their doors at night for homeless to keep them safe, warm and dry. These citadels of writing are becoming invaluable havens of compassion and comfort. The Public Library Association has even put together guidelines and reading materials on how to best assist homeless patrons in need.
Big, bold and brave
If you’ve never heard of The Kindness Offensive — or TKO — you have now. Begun around a kitchen table in the U.K., this group of radical givers has grown into a global do-gooder. With a psychedelic Uncle Sam-like icon as their logo, what they do and how they do it is so diverse, that as their site says, “It’s hard to pigeonhole TKO. We are not a charity, business, NGO, religion or official group of any type; we are simply a group of like-minded people brought together by the simple idea of ‘having fun with kindness.’” Okay, then.
All we are say-ing is give Zen Peacemakers International a chance
Changing the world takes time, persistence and hard work to ensure a history of discrimination, hate and war not only doesn’t repeat itself but can be changed into one of acceptance, love and, yes, peace. Zen Peacemakers International was begun as a way to change the world through enlightenment and purpose. Under the guidance of the late Bernie Glassman, this extraordinary team teaches from the heart and provides a light at the end of the tunnel for all those seeking a lifeline to pull themselves out of less than stellar circumstances.
End childhood hunger with No Kid Hungry
It could be happening right next door and you would never know — a child going hungry. The statistics show it could easily be true — 1 in 6 children are doing so right now in the United States. The organization, No Kid Hungry, is close to Jeff Bridges’ heart — he is its spokesperson and active supporter along with chefs, schools and more. This addresses true, gnawing, gut-punching hunger many children face. Eradicating the problem is No Kid Hungry’s goal and with help from donors like you, it may just become a reality.
Forever begins now
After the turkey is turned into leftovers, pumpkin pie devoured, and dishes cleaned and put away, those who received kindness during the season of giving will still need it the days, months and sometimes years after. “Doing for” is a forever need and gratitude is a daily reminder, and as I lay in bed the other day I started listing what I’m grateful for as a reality check and inspiration for others: sunny days with a touch of chill. Rainy days with a hint of warmth. Family and friends. Knowing how (and loving) to cook. Game nights at home and movies in theatres. Dim sum, ramen and bún thịt nướng (vermicelli salad with grilled pork). Writing longhand in beautiful journals. Romance, adventure and mystery. Performing random acts of anonymous kindness. Love and life.
Being thankful in the moment when you’re hit hard is challenging. It’s a weight on your shoulders and in your heart. But if you take a moment and really look at your life and open yourself up to the beauty, the wonderful you’ve forgotten, you’ll see what I did — there’s so much to be thankful for everyday that giving others the opportunity to feel that too is a super power no cinematic or comic book universe can match.
It only takes a moment to change someone’s life for the better and as Maximus Decimus Meridius says in the film, GLADIATOR, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”
Happy Eternal Sunshine of the Giving, Grateful Heart to you all.