The Significance of The Gift of Kindness: How Small Acts Create Big Impact

By: Lizzy Rode

My favorite fun fact to tell people is that I have seven roommates – you can imagine how unorganized our household can become in a short amount of time. Last Saturday, I brought out all the ingredients for sugar cookies. I shuffled through the kitchen in search of the correct utensils and pans for my recipe, but couldn’t seem to find any clean mixing bowls. I began my search outside of the kitchen until I finally made it to the third floor with no bowls insight. Surprisingly, in the corner of my eye, I spotted the green cooking bowl outside one of my roommate’s bedroom. As I got closer I noticed there was an abundance of plates, cups, mugs, chopsticks, and of course more cooking bowls. As a person who prides herself on her routinely consistent dishwashing skills, at the moment I was ready to approach her about the situation. But, instead, I took a step back and decided to approach the annoyance by trying to give kindness to my roommate. 

Later that day I approached my roommate in her bedroom to ask her, “How are you feeling lately?”, to better understand how she is and how to approach the situation. She sighed and explained how she hasn’t been feeling motivated lately and has been having a difficult time getting assignments done. I was so grateful that I gave my roommate kindness in this situation because I would have never known that she was struggling. I knew the best way to address the overflow of dishes she collected in her bedroom was to offer my help. It was a balancing act for the journey from the third floor to the kitchen, and it only took ten minutes of my time to help out my roommate. Even though this act of kindness was small, I know that it was worth all the effort to have a positive experience with my roommate and boost her happiness.   

Defining Kindness

Every day we are presented with opportunities to show others the gift of kindness, even the smallest acts can provide deep impacts. Whether it’s from listening to coworkers discuss an issue they’re facing, sharing some of your dinner with your friend, or even helping a stranger stand up after a wicked slip on ice. What exactly is kindness and what does kindness mean? The act of kindness can be described as doing something for others with ethically good intentions. Although not everyone has identical definitions of kindness, that is okay as long as the acts of kindness are performed with good intentions. Even if you offer someone who is vegan a hamburger, they’ll be grateful for the offer because it was with positive intentions.

There are many gifts within kindness, but it is crucial that you are also able to be kind to yourself as well as others. It’s easy to forget that we’re able to cheer ourselves on and that can start with taking notice of how we think about ourselves. Proceeding that, show others kindness like a winter cold is contagious. With that in mind, kindness can be small and without an audience, but is still meaningful. Like the act of stocking up the bathroom to make it easier to change the toilet paper, or leaving pencils around a classroom so everyone is able to write,  

Kindness is as Contagious as a Cold

The act of kindness has a ripple effect because it encourages, both the do-gooder and recipient to continue to do kind acts when presented with the opportunity. In other words, if you offer someone a cookie, they may be more encouraged to offer some milk to accompany the cookies. According to a study conducted by the University of Cambridge, simply observing another person help someone gives viewers a positive feeling. This encourages us to try and do something kind, as well as to feel a sense of accomplishment by making others feel good. 

Ways to Be Kind to Yourself

In order to be kind to others, it is important to remember to be kind to yourself, first to be able to provide the world with more kindness. 

This can mean: 

  • Eating well – Having three meals a day and providing yourself with the necessary nutrients to feel strong. 
  • Exercising – Providing your body with movement and stretches leads to better sleep, releases endorphins, and can put you in a space to meet more people. 
  • Trying new activities – Take yourself out of your comfort zone and try something you are interested in. You never know what you could be missing out on!
  • Sleeping enough – In order to get the best sleep, the best way is to get a routine in order. 
  • Speaking kindly about yourself – Always try to be your biggest fan. 
  • Taking the necessary mental breaks – It’s important to relax and reflect on your expectations, thoughts, and mental health.

Kindness Boosts Your Own Happiness

The effect of performing acts of kindness can improve happiness and overall well being based on a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. They also found that the more someone demonstrates acts of kindness, the more their happiness increases. This is another ripple effect within the act of kindness. For this study, the experimenters asked participants randomly to perform one more act of kindness than usual for seven days. Their happiness was measured before and after the experiment and proceeding the experiment, participants that performed an additional act of kindness were happier. 

Compassion is Kindness

We often think of kindness as grand gestures to make others happy, but it is important to recognize that kindness usually offers no material rewards or even an audience. Kindness can be the simple use of compassion and understanding. This can mean that even when you are confronted with a roommate who has moved the dishware into their bedroom, to approach them with understanding first. This can be a difficult task, but it is exceptionally rewarding to acknowledge when someone is not being themselves and ask them how they are doing. This recognition shows that you care about them and are compassionate about their life and wellbeing. In my experience, the use of compassion is exceptionally rewarding when it comes to friendships. 

Opportunities for Kindness Every Day 

The best way to spread kindness is in your everyday life, especially when presented with opportunities that you wouldn’t normally act upon. By taking the time to reflect on situations and decipher how to be kind, it can make the world around you a kinder place as well. One easy opportunity to be kind is by asking the people in your life how they’re doing and listening. Another is by trying to speak, listen, and use your body language with kindness in mind. 

Volunteer Opportunities This Season 

There are great volunteer opportunities anywhere you live, here are some great resources to connect you to the best opportunities for you:

  • Volunteer match – This non-profit provides great opportunities to volunteer with some non-profits that you are personally passionate about. 
  • HandsOn Twin Cities – For residents of the Twin Cities, this non-profit helps to provide relevant volunteer opportunities for individuals this holiday season. 

For local residents, some other great opportunities nearby are:

  • People Serving People – Whose mission is, “People Serving People helps homeless and at-risk children and their families manage crisis situations and build a strong foundation for their long-term success.”
  • Second Harvest Heartland – This local non-profits mission is to help the location population by providing food. They are seeking fresh food distributors, skilled volunteers, and volunteers to package food. 
  • Open Arms MN – Whose mission is to provide food to nourish individuals who are in need. They are in need of volunteers in their kitchen, office, at their farms, and to deliver meals. 
  • Pet Heaven – The mission of this non-profit is to rescue and re-home pets, support companion animal welfare, and advocate for animals. They’re in need of volunteers to foster, help organize donations, train animals, host events, and much more. 

Facebook: findyourpowerorg

Instagram: find_your_power

Twitter: @share_yourpower

Bibliography:

  • https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-heart-and-science-of-kindness-2019041816447
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2970204
  • https://helix.northwestern.edu/article/kindness-contagious-new-study-finds
  • https://www.peopleservingpeople.org/home/about/
  • https://www.2harvest.org/get-involved/volunteer/#.XeQKxpNKho4
  • https://www.openarmsmn.org/volunteer/
  • https://www.volunteermatch.org/search?l=Minneapolis,%20MN,%20USA 
  • https://www.handsontwincities.org/                                                     
  • https://pethavenmn.org/volunteer/


Gratitude in a Cup of Tea: Tips to Finding True Peace and Happiness

   By: Rosa Johnson

I wake up to the sound of an alarm clock playing harmonica sounds on repeat. I attempt to breathe in the cold morning air and open my puffy eyes. The bright, warm sunlight hits my face and it makes my corneas react like I imagine a vampire would, if they entered sunlight, after a hundred years. I stumble out of bed and try to find slippers to cover my feet, which have become frozen icicles overnight. I walk downstairs and make myself a cup of black tea, hoping that it has enough caffeine to sustain me for the day, and I finish it off by adding in some cream. I look outside and see the changing leaves; the sunlight hitting them just right so that their vibrant colors give the rest of the world a nice glow. My running shoes are calling my name and I get ready to start my day with a quick run. As I run around the lake, I listen to the early morning birds sing their favorite songs, and I watch the sun rise higher and higher in the sky. I return home to get ready for the day. I am grateful for fall mornings like this.

It’s really easy for us to be mad about the gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe, the hot thermos of coffee left at home or the bad driver on the road. What can be more challenging is the act of finding gratitude. Sometimes life can feel too hard; the bright lights that were once on and shining, turn off. However, if we can be grateful for something in our life, even something simple like a cup of black tea, it can make all the difference in our overall happiness. Research has found that people who expressed gratitude were happier and actually tended to be more productive. According to Harvard Medical School, individuals who expressed gratitude more often were happier, healthier and more productive. Whether you’re harvesting gratitude or expressing it, here are three helpful tips to further develop the skill.

Write down what you’re grateful for

It’s okay if it’s once a day or once a week, however, the more often you write, the more helpful this tool becomes. Writing down simple examples is often a great way to develop the skill, because it allows you to find gratitude and beauty in the smaller things. Buying a notebook and making sure that you have it either on you, or beside your bed, or in your office space, it ensures that you will write it down. You may even decide to just write down a quick word, that you can come back to later and further process.  All it takes is getting into the habit of writing simple examples down once in awhile, before it suddenly doesn’t feel like a challenge anymore.

 
Pause and take a moment

We seem to run through life with blinders on and miss the small moments that can lift your spirit without any effort. Allow yourself a moment to pause, take a deep breath in and experience all the beauty around you. You will see things you may have otherwise missed. Founder and CEO of Find Your Power, Ivy Kaminsky, says “ I personally think of what I’m grateful for that happened during the day both at bedtime, in the morning when I’m thinking about the day ahead, and throughout the day as things unfold.” Ivy knows what it’s like to have a busy life-style but believes in taking the time to find gratitude and all the benefits it has to offer. Choose whatever time works best for you. Take a break and give meaning to the smaller things in life, even to those that don’t seem important at an initial glance.

Share your gratitude 

When you experience moments of gratitude, share them with someone else. It can help make the moments more impactful and you will be more likely to remember them. Invite other people to share their moments of gratitude with you. Whenever I have other people participating in something with me, it doesn’t feel so challenging; especially when I can turn a challenge into fun conversations with friends. Sharing your gratitude with those around you is a great way to build deeper connections and participate in a very healing environment. 

I know through personal experience that life can get busy and chaotic. It may seem impossible to find time to harvest your gratitude, but trust me, even just a minute of doing so is powerful. If I know I’m going to have a particularly busy week, I think ahead of time about how and where I will find gratitude. I think about the simple moments like how brushing my teeth feels so great at the end of the day. Or I think about the cups of tea I will have in the mornings and how thankful I am going to be for the caffeine boosts.

Find Your Power, challenges you to write down at least one thing, every day, that you’re grateful for this November. If you feel like you can’t do that, start with simply identifying three things in your life to be grateful for as often as possible. We are sure that once you get into the habit of doing it throughout the month, you’ll never want to give it up. If you feel comfortable sharing, feel free to send it to us on any of our social media channels, listed below. If you’re also comfortable with us posting your submission let us know and we can do it either anonymously or with you tagged. Find Your Power would love to hear how you harvest your gratitude this fall! 

Facebook: findyourpowerorg

Instagram: find_your_power

Twitter: @share_yourpower

Bibliography: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

Finding Your Power Across Generations: Empowered Women Empower Women

By: Caleigh Joyce

As I search for inspiration in my daily life my mind is immediately drawn to the women in my family. Their stories have been told to me my entire life, typically by other people, rarely by these women themselves, and when they do tell their stories it is always with a tone of “well what else did you expect me to do?”

“A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she’s in hot water.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

My Grandma Nancy immigrated to New York from a tiny, remote farm village in Ireland. She saved up every cent she had and moved to Dublin when she was eighteen, spent a year working in the city, and then booked a ticket to New York, it was the first time she had ever left home. When she arrived in New York, it was completely overwhelming. She was staying with a very strict aunt, who was the only person she knew in America. She spent the first few weeks there walking up and down the streets of Manhattan searching for a job. This was made difficult by the heavy racism that existed towards Irish people in America at this time. Most businesses at the time had signs posted in in their windows saying, “Irish need not apply.” She finally found a position at a restaurant in a small corner of the city. By the time her first year had passed, she could never dream of leaving America. She spent the next decades starting a family with my grandfather and as she had found a love of taking care of people, she became a caretaker for the elderly, a job she had for the rest of her life.

My Grandma Bette was one of the first women to attend the University of Minnesota. She graduated with a degree in journalism. Using the motivation of the female workforce that emerged during World War II, she pushed into the man’s world of journalism refusing to take “no” for an answer. She wrote about the rising world of television, current events, and architecture. Using her new journalist badge and a large amount of pluck, she was able to talk her way into several once in a lifetime experiences. Once she even used her status as a journalist in Minnesota to crash Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco’s wedding. Another time she convinced a security guard to let her into Carnegie Hall when it was closed. She insisted that my grandfather, who was an architect, simply had to see it, and that they would not be leaving until he did. Defying the odds, and working with grit, luck, and perseverance is something that she still does today. She is currently 93, and is about to publish her memoir, A Lifetime of Luck and Pluck, the fifth book she’s written in the last decade.

My mother, Susan refused to pay attention to the boys at school who didn’t believe and didn’t want girls to be smart. She worked hard and proved them all wrong by growing up to attend Harvard. When she graduated, she started what was quickly a successful career in Boston and New York, and then went back home to Minnesota when I was born. After realizing she had way more energy than a sleeping baby, she started a financial consulting business. Again, deciding to ignore the boys who said that girls couldn’t be good at math, she successfully ran her financial business while raising two children. Now she uses her math skills for good, consulting for nonprofits and using impact investing to help change the world into a better place.

“Women have to harness their powerit’s absolutely true. It’s just learning not to take the first no. And if you can’t go straight ahead, you go around the corner.”  -Cher

As with so many empowered women before them, the women in my family have a power that is quiet, but obvious. They don’t walk into a room demanding you notice their strength, but you see it with the way they walk anyway. My Grandma Bette, who just turned ninety-three still makes heads turn when she walks into a room.

I see so many women with stories of how other women in their lives have crossed great mountains without ever asking for praise for it and have become embarrassed when it is given anyway. But I think it is so important to acknowledge the odds that women have overcome in their daily lives, and throughout history.

As I look towards the future, I think of graduating college this spring, and heading out into the real world. Inspired by the injustice women, as well as people of color and LGBT people have faced for centuries, I am committed to fighting for equality and human rights, and hope to get a job where I can help to make a difference. I look back at the great women who have come before me and hope that the memory of their victories will empower me with all the strength and courage that has come before me.

 

Girls Just Want to Have Funds: Why Women Should Invest

By: Caleigh Joyce

Before my mother and father got married, my mother (who has a CFA, has a master’s degree from Harvard in business, and began her own financial consulting business in 1998) had already begun to take over her mother’s finances with the help of her financial advisor. After she married my father (who has a Communications degree and works in Public Relations), the financial advisor congratulated her… and asked to take her husband out to lunch. After that, every financial advisor they ever had only wanted to deal with my father- and ignored my mother.

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Women in the Running: Making This Midterm the Opportunity of the Century

By: Haley Kaul

The wave of women is rising. The midterm elections are coming up on November 6th, and it is important to look at those on the ballots. This midterm, there is an influx of women running for political offices. One of the biggest factors of this increase is probably the multitude of male politicians that don’t have women in mind. In fact, many of them often disregard another perspective. This leaves women wanting to fight for the positions that have let the female narrative fall through the cracks. Women want to make life better for other women.

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Swing for Power Like a Girl: Women Creating Community Through Sports

By: Julia Carpent

Teams are the heart of all accomplishments. Whenever we succeed, there’s always someone we owe at least part of our success to. Any shared identity creates a team. Families are teams. Staffs are teams. Women are a team. So perhaps team sports are a reflection of all the ways sharing an experience with others brings us joy. But most importantly, they offer a sense of belonging and hope.

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Finding Your People: Key Steps to Cultivating Positive Communities

By: Angela Hugunin

Some of us may be familiar with the Jim Rohn quote: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” To some, this may be an alarming idea. Others may find it thrilling. Some of us may be somewhere in between.

Since moving from my hometown to a new city this past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship and community. It was really tempting for me to enter that new place with a closed mindset. I had great friends back home already; how was I supposed to find new ones that I actually connected with?

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A Job With Training Wheels: Interning at a Startup

By: Sylvia Deyo

 

If there is one day of work that I feel best captures my internship with Find Your Power it would be one of the last days I was at work before taking a month off for summer break. Ivy (the Founder), another intern named Katie, and I were meeting to discuss the upcoming Poetry Jam event and ended up on the topic of our upcoming movie showing of Embrace. We had been dealing with a very frustrating company for the rights to show and the provision of the film and had recently been told contradicting statements from them. We were scrambling to keepthe showing going but weren’t hearing back from the company. Finally, one of us floated the idea of showing it on our own, without the middleman. We had less than a week to make this happen. Katie was able to get the school she worked at to host the event in their cafeteria. Ivy got to work contacting all the people who had purchased tickets to the event in order to update them on the new plan. Meanwhile, I worked on getting the ticketing to work. This involved using the donation platform I had set the organization up with early in my internship and putting the tickets up on the FYP website. I ended up on the phone with the customer service line for both the website and the donation platform, both ofwhom I had been in constant contact with over the course of the two months of interning. But eventually, we pulled it together, in under 3 hours no less! The showing was a success and helped to get our mission out to potential advocates. I had no idea that the work I did researching and signing up with a donation platform within my first week of work would be useful for event planning and outreach, but that’s what it was like working with FYP.

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