It is my unshakable belief that the relationships we cultivate with others – be they humans, dogs, cats, parakeets, or goldfish - bring the most happiness and create the most meaning. If I can change lives in as positive a way as my dog has changed mine, I will have lived a successful life.
As I’ve ranted in this space and others, 2013 has been a trying year on many fronts. At times I have felt at war. However, through it all, I have also been the recipient of much unexpected kindness. This kindness has been to such a degree and from so many quadrants and all I can feel in return is grateful and humble. It’s a bit tragic that things have to swoop so low in order for me to notice just how supportive people are and how lucky I am to be connected with so many generous individuals. I hope it is a lesson I will not forget. Even more, I hope it is something I will never take for granted.
I wish I was in a place I could repay everyone for their actions and kindness. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I could ever make a gesture or give a gift powerful enough to match the way others have made me feel this year. It may take me the rest of my life, but I figure I owe it to myself to try. Today is Pay It Forward Day. It is a day specifically dedicated to doing good deeds for others without asking for anything in return. I can’t think of a better way of beginning my own journey of thanks.
On the Pay It Forward website there is a terrific list of suggestions of ways people can make a difference in someone else’s life. They range from small, specific things like paying for a stranger’s coffee to larger, more general things like being a mentor. A long time ago, I wrote a list of ways people can show kindness in the dog world. There are some even better ideas in the comments. As a dog owner and a citizen in my community, I try to live my life according to the sentiments expressed in that list, even when it’s easier not to. These lists are hardly exhaustive. There are countless other ways we can reach out to others to make their days a little brighter.
Since I am also a blogger, I tried to think of ways to we can all show kindness in the online world.
1. Link up - To bloggers, traffic is always appreciated. There is no greater gift than sending others in a certain blog’s direction. Fortunately, there are so many easy ways to do this via your own blog and social media.
2. Write a meaningful comment – No one wants to blog in a vacuum. The reason I keep returning to this space is because of the sense of community it brings. It’s so heartwarming to know that you are not alone, that others have gone through the same things. There have been some rough days in my life that have been turned around by a kind word or a thoughtful blog comment.
3. Send a message – Who doesn’t love getting an email or a message on a Facebook wall? A short little message to share a joke or a fun video, a simple compliment about something they wrote, even just a quick hello. It all shows you are reading, which is the reason someone blogs in the first place.
4. Don’t say anything – I try to only comment if I have something positive to say or something constructive to add to a discussion. If something I read makes me feel upset or angry, it’s usually good practice to keep my emotional thoughts to myself. I understand having a knee-jerk reaction to something you disagree with but it’s much kinder to wait a little while before responding. Time adds perspective. Sometimes the kind thing to do is to keep quiet.
5. Offer to help – I know, I know. I am the first person to vent about unsolicited advice. However, when it’s offered freely and with the right tone, even I appreciate it sometimes. We all struggle with certain things and asking for help is tough. If you have a lot of skills in a particular area, say with the technological side of things, and another blogger mentions having trouble, sharing your knowledge is a huge way of paying it forward.
I am hardly an expert. Knowing the awesomeness of the Petosphere I am sure you all can come up with some fantastic ways to help other bloggers. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments! Maybe you can help me start to repay some of the generosity you have shown me these past three years.