I debated about whether or not to list this as a project, as it’s not really a concrete “project” that we set out to do one day. But, I decided that the message of this project made it well worth a post.
Several of the items included on the original list were little more than going just a bit out of your way to be nice. None of those small items, or the other things discussed below, seemed worthy of their own project, but combined, they could really make an impact. In the past few weeks, I decided to make a real conscious effort to do little things to be nice. None of the things I have done or intend to do take much time, effort, or money. All they really take is a conscious decision to be nice. I think doing a lot of the little things over time can have just as much, if not more, of an impact on my children. There is nothing like teaching by example. Below are some of the “little things” I have done thus far.
The other day, while I was sitting in heavy traffic, I let someone cut in front of me that I might normally not. Normally, I might find myself silently (or not so silently) cursing the person trying to weasel their way in front of me. Not this time. Instead, I thought to myself “he must need to get there more than I do” and waved him in. I am making an effort to always hold the door for people, even when I have a squirmy toddler in my arms. I make a point to leave a “Happy Birthday” message on all of my Facebook friends’ walls when it is their birthday. (I know it makes my day on my birthday to have a bunch of messages from friends, so others probably feel the same.
Last week, when I was grocery shopping, a man had left his cart blocking an aisle in the produce section. My natural instinct is to be annoyed. Instead, I gently pushed his cart out of the way and smiled (a genuine smile) at the man as I passed by. I did not quite push his cart out of the way far enough, so my cart bumped into his. He rushed over and apologized. With a smile on my face, I said it was no problem at all. He looked at me with a confused look on his face and said, “Well, yes it is, but I really appreciate you saying that.” His reaction made me smile the rest of the way through the produce section.
Several of the items on the original list deal with prayer. With Abby, I am really making an effort to increase the scope of her bed time prayers. Generally, her prayers have been relatively simple: thanking God for the day she had, asking God for a great day tomorrow, asking God to keep us safe and healthy, etc. I am now really trying to teach her to pray for things outside herself. I am also encouraging her to say her own prayers, rather than to rely on me to say them. A couple of weeks ago (the night before we were originally planning to do Project 4), Abby asked if I say my own prayers. I said yes, I do. She said then she wanted to do the same. So, that night she began by thanking God for a whole host of random things, none of which are in my standard prayer. All of the sudden, she stopped and said, “I am not going to thank God for rain because we haven’t had any rain.” So I responded by saying, “Well, you could ask God to send rain.” She did, and wouldn’t you know it, it rained overnight for the first time in ages. Today, Jake was sick and woke up with a high fever. Abby came into the room and said, “Tonight we should pray for God to make Jake better.” I tried to explain that she did not need to wait until bed time – she could pray any time. Confused, she asked me for an example. I went ahead and asked God to help Jake feel better. Abby objected, sure that was a bed time prayer that I should not be saying in the morning. I guess we still have some work to do on this one!
Another small item on the list was to complain less. I am making an effort to do that – not just outwardly, but also internally. For example, the dirty dishes in our house seem to multiply like rabbits. The chore of loading and emptying the dishwasher is a never-ending task at our house. I have a way of keeping track in my head of how many times I am doing the dishes verses my husband, and I tend to get very annoyed when I feel I am doing more than my fair share. This week, my husband started back to work (he is a teacher), and for some reason the dishes seemed to pile up more than usual. Instead of complaining or simply being annoyed, I made the conscious decision to just do the dishes without complaining (most of the time, anyway). How four people can use that many dishes, I have no idea. Rob may or may not have noticed this little thing, but making the decision not to complain or stew over the issue certainly made me happier.
There are so many “little things” people can do to make a difference. I challenge you to make the effort to do the little things in your every day life. Is there an obviously pregnant woman in line at the grocery store behind you? Why not let her in front of you. I guarantee you it will make her day and it will only take you a few extra minutes at the store. It will probably make your day, too. I could go on and on about all the small things that I know would make me smile if someone else did them. There are so many! If you make a conscious decision to do the little thing, I’d love to know what you do. Please leave comments to let me know. Who knows, maybe your decisions will inspire someone else to do something nice.