Tempering the Type A Personality

Type-A-Personality-SaraLetting Go of Impatience

Perhaps this isn’t the best thing to confess, but for a good part of my life I was a Type A personality! I tended to see life as a struggle and fought my way through it.

Needless to say, I wasn’t at peace with myself very often. As I grew older, I recognized the toll this fight was having on me and my body. I knew I had to change but wasn’t sure how.

As things worked out, change was forced on me during a crisis; one that was so overwhelming I had to do something.

I knew I couldn’t change the situation that was causing me grief, but I couldn’t continue to fight it either. I had to find a way to let go; something I didn’t do very easily.

My Go Gently Days

One evening after reaching a point of total exhaustion, I went to sleep. The next morning I woke up with the following phrase in my head; “Go gently into your day.” I have no clue where I read or heard this phrase, but it felt right for me at that time.

That day I thought of this phrase everyplace I went, consciously choosing to “go gently into my day.” I smiled at the overtired grocery clerk, opened the door for the stressed woman with two toddlers in tow, and drove calmly without once honking my horn because of some driver’s transgression.

In short, I spent my entire day “going gently.” When I got home, instead of feeling stressed and tired, I felt absolutely wonderful and energized. It was one of those WOW moments in my life!

By letting go of what frustrated me I could approach my day with gentleness. This brought love and energy to me. Who knew this could be so effective? I began to include more “go gently days” in my life.

5 Ways I Relieve Stress

How do I do this? I focus on being gentle to myself and to others. I smile, show kindness, and remind myself that the Universe takes care of things when I let it.

Here are some ways I practice a “go gently day”:

Remind myself frequently to “go gently into my day.” This reinforces what I choose to do during the day. It’s a mantra I repeat when I’m stuck in traffic, dealing with a difficult person or when I feel life pressing on me.

Show gratitude and kindness to others. I thank people who have helped me during the day and I offer help to others. I fully believe this creates positive energy throughout our bodies and souls.

Spend more time with gentle people or animals. I pet my dog and cat more often, have lunch with a person who is supportive and caring, or even visit some of my favorite peaceful bloggers:~)

Do something good for myself. Have a warm cup of tea or coffee, take a nice bath, go for a nature walk or listen to calming music; whatever makes me feel contented and peaceful.

Slow my life down. I drive slower and eat slower. I stop rushing and instead, take deep breaths and notice things around me along the way – trees, birds singing, colorful cars passing on the street – whatever helps me slow down my life.

I know it would be best if every day was a “go gently day,” but truthfully, I haven’t quite reached that level of consciousness yet. I’m still a “work in progress”:~)

Even so, when I start feeling stressed or angry I make an effort to take a “go gently day.” Most times these days make whatever stress or annoyance I’m feeling slink away, only to be replaced with happiness and contentment.

What about you?

When do you find you need to take a “go gently day?” What activities would you choose?

Picture Story: Here’s To Words

man-and-dog_458Copyright: Sara B. Healy

More than a simple photo

I took this picture while traveling by cab to a train station in London. It was one of those “grab the camera and shoot” pictures. I don’t even think I put my reading glasses on, which means I basically took it blind.

To be honest, I was shocked this picture turned out. I had to put my zoom on max; something my camera does not like. It’s not quite that sophisticated and gets annoyed when I ask it to capture images that it thinks are too far away.

But there it was; a moment of kindness in the huge, bustling city of London. That’s what I thought when I first saw this man sitting on the sidewalk, reading his paper and holding his dog.

There was something about the way the sleeping dog was tucked into the man’s arms that was touching to me. I was glad I looked out the window of the cab at that moment.

More than words

I am a blogger who uses pictures a lot to accent my posts and draw a reader visually into my chosen topic. I see the pictures as a window to my post. My hope is that my readers will find what they see in this window interesting enough to continue to read what I’ve written.

Sometimes I use my own pictures and other times I use the wonderful stock photos that others have taken. I always try to give the photographer credit, even though I have the rights to use the photo.

Generally, I try to pick a picture that will accentuate whatever headline I’ve chosen for my post. This leads me to today’s story picture challenge.

Instead of me choosing a picture to match the headline, I’m asking you to create the headline to match the picture.

What headline would you write to accompany this picture? Can you put it into words?

PLEASE NOTE:  This headline does NOT need to be a keyword headline. This is just for fun :~)

KindLike.Us: A new kindness community

KindLike.UsThis is the second part of my series on Kindness. Last Thursday, I told you about the kindness of a stranger who helped me and the benefits of being kind.

Today, I’m sharing an interview I did with Tim Piazza, the developer of a new site, KindLike.Us. This very creative and active site enables people interested in kindness to join together in a social community. Note that on my left sidebar, I liked this site so much that I have already become a member:~)

I believe that you, my readers, will like this site as much as I do. So,without further adieu here’s my interview with Tim, the creative creator of KindLike.Us:~)

What drew you to the idea of kindness, Tim?

First of all, Sara, thank you for taking an interest in our project. It’s heartwarming that the very first person outside of our family that I contacted when setting up the site responded so enthusiastically. Your blog post, Life Lessons: The Value of Kindness was such a perfect example of the sort of stories I hope people will share on KindLike.Us.

Gosh, I could write for pages about this. I have been reflecting on what makes a person happy for a long time. I was taught that being successful in business was a prerequisite to happiness, but there are many happy people who live very simply and many people with extravagant lives who are unhappy. If I buy something or do something I want, it makes me happy for a while, but it’s not lasting. On the other hand, if I am kind to someone, I feel happier, and they feel better too. Happiness, I believe, is a direct result of being kind to others.

Kindness is the fundamental quality that builds good communities. It’s the glue that bonds friendships. Kindness motivates us to act better, live better, to be better. Being Kind is the most attractive quality a person can project, and it is within everyone’s grasp to be kind. I think that worldwide, people understand the value and meaning of kindness, but in the USA, kindness seems more burdened with other attachments like fear and risk. The reason probably has to do with a society’s economic wealth. Money sets us apart from each other.

I recently met Chris Brogan and Woody Collins at a social media conference in Indiana. Woody told Chris about how he is working to improve the conditions of people in Africa who live under conditions of extreme poverty. The next morning during his keynote presentation, Chris urged people to help Woody because what he was doing makes a real difference. This was my inspiration. I realized that I could use social media to help people like Woody.

What do you hope to accomplish with KindLike.Us?

Our vision for KindLike.Us is that it becomes a social networking site for people who view kindness as a fundamental value. I started using computers in the early 1980’s when online social communities originated. They were crude and text based, but we could hold live chats, post in forums, and share files. Each community had its own personality, and people joined them because they felt some affinity for the site.

Facebook is great, and it proves that our online interactions can enhance and extend our real life relationships. But Facebook is a metropolis. It’s not safe to be friends with everybody.

KindLike.Us is an intentional community for people who make conscious choices about the quality of their life. We want KindLike.Us to be the Facebook of caring, thoughtful people.

In the opening Welcome, you state that “We need only to encourage a “kindness economy” to increase its value to others.” What do you mean by a “kindness economy?”

Usually, we think of economics as being about dollars and wealth. There is a finite supply of wealth and it is something we must acquire in order to meet our basic needs. Kindness, on the other hand, is in an infinite supply, we already possess it, but we do not view it in the same way as we do financial wealth. Is the more successful person the one who has an abundance of money and little happiness, or the one who has little money but is filled with joy? The answer depends on whether you value money more than happiness. I believe people who place more value on happiness than on money live more fulfilling lives, and I think it’s something we should all encourage.

What are the benefits of joining KindLike.Us?

Good, an easy question! If you spend just 5 minutes a day thinking about being kind, reading about it, or telling a story about it, you will tend to be a kinder person. Being connected to others through kindness has a dramatic impact on your sense of purpose and feeling of wellness. Being connected through kindness makes people happy. We want to build a community where people will want to spend at least a few minutes a day thinking and sharing around the idea of kindness.

KindLike.Us is very easy to use. People can chat, blog, share music and photos, link to YouTube videos, send messages to friends, and join groups. Members can redesign their own page to look the way they want and customize their privacy settings. You can add widgets and HTML code, even add RSS feeds from another blog to your own page. For people who already publish online, KindLike.Us can easily extend what they’re already doing in social media. This is great for non-profit agencies who would like to connect with people on KindLike.Us.

If someone has an article or a post they think might be perfect for your site, what should they do?

If someone is writing the sort of blog that would be great for our site, we really hope that they become a member. Members can post their own blogs, and we can feature them on the front page. Members can always send private messages to me.

Many blogs give you the opportunity to add your web address along with your name, but search engines do not follow those links. KindLIke.Us is much more robust. You can have links in articles and they will get followed back to that site. You can put links and even photos in comments as well. You do have to be a member to use these great features, but there is absolutely no cost to becoming a member of KindLIke.Us.

Other than the site, what keeps you busy in your life?

Work is definitely a big part of my life. The advertising agency I work for asked me to be the social media and online marketing strategist. I am constantly learning and constantly challenged, and I get to bring the insights I acquire along the way to KindLike.Us. My wife Tiffany is a social worker on the homeless outreach team in our community. We play traditional Irish music with our friends and our children, and we live in a log home on four acres of land. Even though our land is mostly tree-covered, it’s amazing how much time it takes to keep up the property!

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Thank you so much for taking this time with me, Sara. I really appreciate being able to talk about KindLike.Us. I encourage your readers to come visit the site and I hope the will also become members!

You are so welcome Tim. Thanks for sharing about your site:~)

Kindness Can Improve Your Health

iStock_000005848801XSmall

Photo by Francois Léca

A helpful stranger to my rescue

A couple of weeks ago I had to get stitches. I was hurrying to my car before the usual afternoon deluge of rain and slipped and fell.

I didn’t realize that head wounds bled so much and this scared me. I managed to get up and sit in my car where I tried to stop the bleeding, which was not an easy task.

Suddenly, there was a knock on my window. This woman had seen the accident and came through the pouring rain to make sure I was okay. She stayed with me until the bleeding was under control. This meant a lot to me because I was shaken up.

I don’t remember saying thank you, but I hope I did. We were strangers and I must have looked pretty scary, but she showed kindness to me when I really needed it. She even stood in the rain to do it.

After things settled down, I got to thinking about this woman’s good nature and started doing some research about kindness. I learned some interesting things.

The benefits of random acts of kindness

Did you know that kindness can improve your health?

According to a study done by Allan Luks and Peggy Payne, authors of The Healing Power of Doing Good, there are many health benefits to being kind and helping others. They include:

  • A rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm after performing a kind act, which the authors called a “helper’s high.” (I like the idea that we can “get high” on kindness:~)
  • Improving stress-related health by reducing feelings of depression, hostility and isolation that may lead to physical problems.
  • Increasing feelings of joyfulness, emotional resilience and vigor.
  • Decreasing the intensity and the awareness of physical pain.    (I found this one very interesting!).
  • Maintaining a sense of well-being for hours or even days when remembering the helping act. (WOW. This is a nice benefit of being kind!)
  • Increasing self-worth, happiness and optimism, as well as a decrease in feelings of helplessness and depression.

I like to think that the woman who helped me received these health benefits and more. That’s the other thing that’s great about kindness; it’s contagious! When you are kind to someone, that person is more likely to be kind to someone else.

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This post is the first of a two-part series on kindness. Next Thursday, I will be doing an interesting interview with Tim Piazza, the developer of a new social site related to kindness. I hope you will return and learn more about this creative and kind man!