How to Inject a Little More Kindness into the World
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Do you remember how good it felt the last time someone did something kind for you? Claire gives you some tips on how to be the person who pays it forward with random acts of kindness. Plus, she answers a question from a listener who wants to know how to support a loved one during the end of their life.
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Anyone had flip you off recently for a traffic mistake, or give you a dirty look for not being organized when you finally reach the clerk the post office sucks, doesn’t it? How about the opposite. When was the last time someone that you cut in front of them at the checkout, or paid for your latte? I’m guessing you’ve had more of the former, not the latter.
Hi, I’m Claire Bidwell-Smith. And that’s what we’re talking about today, on NEW DAY, now on your feed three times a week. People are cranky these days, the world has been turned upside down in the last couple of years. And we’re still dealing with a lot of the fallout, stress levels are high. But I’m really into the idea of counterbalancing stuff. And that’s where random acts of kindness come in. If you’ve never been the recipient or patron of these acts, they’re pretty magical. They feel really good on both ends. They can also be a way of turning a shitty situation into a feel-good moment. A couple of years ago in a Starbucks drive thru with my kids, my younger daughter who’s really observant remark that the young woman in the car behind us looked really sad. I took a look. And indeed she did. So when we got to the checkout window, I spontaneously paid for that woman’s order. My daughter’s erupted in excitement over this idea. And it’s become this thing that we do a lot. Now. They of course wanted me to pull over so that they could see the woman’s reaction. But I told them that that’s part of the magic, that you just do it to do it. And you have to temper any expectations of enjoying this kind of like obvious result. The truth is sometimes we never know what the ripple effects of such a small thing can be. And I’m optimistic that putting this kind of energy out in the world creates a flow of more of it. Less grumbling from the people around us more gratitude. There are so many ways we can extend kindness to the people around us and it doesn’t have to cost you a frappuccino. text someone good morning or good night, especially if you know they’re lonely or going through a hard time. Leave a pile of quarters at the laundromat. Compliment someone on their parallel parking job. Write a positive comment on a website, a blog or a social media post. Ask an older person about their past, praise a local business online. Randomly tell someone you know all your favorite things about them. Wheel out your neighbor’s trash, I’m gonna get my husband to do that one. Help your kids set up a lemonade stand and encourage them to donate half the earnings to an animal shelter. We did this once with a pet fostering organization and they brought over some puppies for my kids to play with for an hour as a thank you. Compliment a random parent out in the world on how well behaved their child is. This one will probably never happen to me, but if it did, it would make my day. Let someone cut the line in front of you. Give a random stranger a compliment on something they’re wearing. We notice people wearing stuff that we like all the time. But how often do we actually tell them pay the toll for the person behind you or drop some coins in someone’s parking meter. Bring in doughnuts for your coworkers. donate blood, help someone’s struggling to carry groceries or help an elderly person load the groceries into their trunk in the parking lot. Give your waiter an extra tip and write an encouraging note to go along with it. Or tell their manager what a great job they did. Bring treats at the local fire station. If you’re like me, you’re always up for saying hi to the firemen talk to a stranger at a party who looks like they don’t know anyone. Compliment someone’s cooking and ask for a recipe. Those are just a few ideas of hundreds. You could even bring this idea up at the dinner table and have everyone chime in with ideas that you carry out all month. It feels good to be kind. And maybe if we did a little more of these spontaneous random acts of it, we could cut down on all the stressful grumbles going around.
Now for my favorite part, answering questions from you. If you have something you want to ask me, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or fill out our form at bit.ly/newdayask, the link is in the show notes. Today we have a question from me in Kentucky who wants to know how best to support a loved one during the end of life. Also, is there any training for families or someone interested in being a support person? I mean, this is such an important question. It’s something that most of us will go through at some point in our lifetimes. And it’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. When I was working in hospice in my early 30s I was also pregnant with my first daughter and I spent all these months kind of driving around to these snowy suburbs in Chicago, taking care of people who are dying at home and helping their families. And at the same time I was nearing the birth of my of my daughter and it was the Midwest so for some reason I had five baby showers. There was like a couple of work baby showers and the mother-in-law baby shower and blah blah five baby showers. I also had a birth doula and I had a midwife and I is going to baby classes. And I was so struck by the difference in all the intention and ritual and love and support that was going into bringing a person into the world. And at the same time, all day, I was visiting these homes where someone was exiting. And there was so much silence around it. And there was so much fear and there was so much anxiety. And people were kind of staying away. And I just saw these families and these dying patients going through the end of their life with such little ritual and reverence and intention. And it really broke my heart. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. And something I’m always kind of trying to open up more conversations about. So I’m really glad you asked about this.
There are so many ways to support a loved one and a family when they are going through end of life. Just showing up and being a supportive and loving presence, like being the person that does show up and is there to talk about it and is there to just be part of that process. You can do physical tasks around someone’s house, you can help them clean things up, tidy them, get rid of things, make piles of things that maybe the dying person wants to give to loved ones, you can help coordinate with, with medical help. There’s so much that goes on at end of life. I think that that is a really important thing to look into too. You can look into hospice and palliative care. Both of these things have a lot of misconceptions around them. People aren’t always aware of all the benefits of hospice and palliative care. They aren’t always a death sentence, even when they are there to help with end of life. It’s a really beautiful and supportive presence and not always a scary thing that I think some people think it is, you can check out my episode with Dr. BJ Miller to find out more about all of that stuff. You can just have conversations with the person who’s dying, asking them what their wishes are, if they have any loose ends to tie up if they have amends they want to make if they have old friends they want to check in or talk to, you can always help the family with just communication errands. Maybe there’s family members that aren’t nearby, you can be filling them in on things. You do need to be taking care of yourself while you do this. It’s a lot being present for someone at the end of life and seeing them through all of this. It can be really hard; it can be tiring and exhausting. It can be emotionally difficult. So making sure that you are getting your own support and thinking about what you need is important. There is training for this. One of the coolest things in the most recent years. It has been this kind of age of the death, doulas. It’s like a birth doula, but it’s someone who sees you through the end of life and they help out with the family. They help out with the dying person. And they do everything from emotional needs to you know, going over legal papers and all of that jazz. One of my best friends is a death doula. Her name’s Alua Arthur, and she’s been a guest on this podcast. She happens to be one of the leading death doulas in the country. And she offers trainings, courses, resources for end of life planning. It’s all on her website going with grace.com One of the things I’ll say is that not everyone will always want to support you in supporting someone going through the end of their life. death and grief are really hard and scary for a lot of people. And a lot of people will push it away or deny it or they will feel that embracing it is a form of negativity, that we should be positive and that we should kind of keep up this idea that the person is going to be fine even when they’re clearly not. So brace yourself, be prepared that that may happen here and there. Reach out for the support you need. You know, definitely look into the death doula resources, just, you know, having a lot around you that does help you understand what you’re involved in, can be just something that helps you take care of yourself and the person. I just want to lastly say that, you know, it’s people like you who are helping us change the culture around death and dying. I appreciate this question so much me I really do believe that we can create beautiful intentional and meaningful death experiences and end of life experiences for the people who are dying and for their families. But it really starts with awareness and presence and looking into how we go about doing it. So I just want to thank you again.
Have I mentioned how much I love answering all of your questions. That’s exactly what I do every Monday and Wednesday here on NEW DAY. Plus, you’ll get a tip from me something I hope you can implement in your life right away. Then on Friday, a longer interview with a fantastic guest. This week we’re building on today’s tip about kindness toward others with my chat with Dr. Kristin Neff. That’s all about self-compassion and being kind to yourself. See you on Friday. And make sure you subscribe to new day so you never miss an episode.
NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show was produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. New Day is produced in partnership with the well-being trust the Jed foundation and Education Development Center. Thanks for listening.