Experiments in Kindness

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When it comes to improving the world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the problems we are bombarded with by daily news and social media. Charitable organizations, while noble in their intent, threaten to overwhelm potential supporters by clamoring for their attention, casting the average Canadian (myself included) adrift in a sea of problem vying for their attention.

In short, performing charitable acts can be confusing, overwhelming, and depressing experience. I believe that in the world I want to live, this view of charity needs to change.

I dream of a world where charitable acts can be engaging.

I dream of a world where charitable acts can be enjoyable

Most of all, I dream of a world where charitable acts can be accessible.

For these reasons, I experiment periodically with various forms of charitable acts, simple efforts to make charity more accessible and hopefully engage others to help me make a difference in the world. Some of the experiments work and are worth repeating; others fail and are shelved…sometimes forever.

My goal has been to avoid over-complicating the issue charity. I am an ends justify the means kind of person and while I can argue theory day and night (I do work for a university), I feel that confusing and overwhelming those wishing to perform charitable acts is the last thing we should do.

To reiterate, charitable acts do not require elaborate philosophical debate or a deeply-honed skill set. They require a kind heart and desire to assist fellow members of your species and/or the planet we live on, period!

Of my previous experiments in kindness, a highlight included requesting for my birthday that others perform an act of kindness (I use acts of kindness and charity synonymously) and then come tell me about it. The experiment went marvelously and resulted in a day-long series of positive acts being sent via social media, email, text, and in-person. The event was so successful that I made it an annual event!

Another included creating a day of kindness, where I offered to perform favours for anyone who asked for a 24 hour period. It did not matter if they were a close friend or I just met them, if they made a request I would deliver, pending a few moral, legal, and financial constraints.

My most recent project is the Countdown to Easter Charity Challenge. The goal is to post at least one act of kindness a day for 30 days. The goal is simple; do something nice and then tell others about it. It makes others feel good. It makes you feel good. Most importantly, it doesn’t overwhelm the average giver, who just wants to make the world a better place to live in.

Once people are accustomed to charitable acts, they can connect with particular charities cater to their unique values and interests. The point is that we should not confuse charitable acts with becoming a supporter of specific charities. A charitable act is simply volunteering assistance or help to those in need.

Avoid becoming bogged down in semantics and dream with me of a world where acts of charity are an enjoyable daily act, not an obligation to be pursued at some point later in life.

What a world that would be!

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