So many awful things have been happening recently around the world, including the recent elementary school attack that left the world devastated and in mourning. The future looks bleak. But there are things that we, as individuals, can do to bring back inspiration and hope to the world in small ways (or waves).
I've always loved the concept of paying it forward. You read about those wonderful generous individuals in Tim Hortons' lines paying for the person behind them and it warms your heart. It makes you feel even better when you do it yourself. There's just something thrilling about leaving your mark anonymously on a stranger in a positive way. I've done it for others and had it done for me and I can personally attest to the fact that you feel a boost in energy and affection, whether you're the giver or receiver.
I recently read about a fellow Canadian blogger, Taslim Jaffer, who is doing her own "pay it forward" in a uniquely creative way with her Make-A-Wave Cards. Essentially, you can purchase a 12-pack of these tidbits of inspiration (small one-liners) for a measly $9.99 and give them to your friends, colleagues, family and yes, even strangers. Many of her motivational cards say such as "Don't be afraid to be fabulous. You can't help it. You were born that way," or "Don't just march to the beat of your own drum; shake your butt and dance like nobody's business."
Can you imagine having a cup of coffee or eating a meal at your favourite restaurant and then just before you get up to leave, you drop one of these cards for the waiter, or even the next customer? How do you think they'd react? Everyone has a bad day, and these uplifting quotes may just be the thing that will perk them up and definitely something that they will remember for a very long time.
I don't presume purchasing these cards and sharing them with others will change the world, but it might change a person. And that's a start.
In a world where we are terrorized by hunger, poverty, homelessness, abuse and violence on children (among other tragedies), why not do our part and fill the world with a little bit of hope? Make it your New Year's resolution.
So go through a Tim Hortons drive-thru and pay for the stranger behind you, leave a Make-A-Wave card for another at your local coffee shop, or just compliment a stranger on the street. But do something. What have you got to lose?
To check out Taslim Jaffer's blog and to purchase her unique Make-A-Wave cards, visit her site.
We kicked off our holiday kindness campaign by asking our readers for photos of good deeds tagged #kindness2012.
"Couldn't agree more, Cicero! My heart is very thankful today! #wordstoliveby #gratitude" said Instagram user kricketchirps.
"This literally made me smile. #thankful #blessed #love #friends #college #thanksgiving #grateful #cofc #charleston," Instagram user ra_roberts said.
"About to drop off cookies to the fire department! #30DaysOfKindness #holidayspirit #thankful #cookies #ActOfKindness #DayOne," Instagram user _astonishing_ashley_ said.
shan_nglam shared this Instagram photo of a holiday note for US troops.
"I like to perform at least one Random Act of Kindness a week," Johanna Schulman told HuffPost in an email. "And if I run out of ideas, I go to the Massachusetts list of unclaimed property, which is found at our Department of State Treasury. There I find an unusual name of a person who has at least $100 of unclaimed property and get to work. I Google the name until I have found an address for the person (that's why I always start with an unusual name, otherwise it's hard to. Then I print a copy of the page showing the property, circle their name, and send it to them anonymously with a little note. Usually I say 'Enjoy this random act of kindness and pay it forward!' I've attached a picture of todays RAOK! Dara Blendermann, it's your lucky day!"
"I don't have a photo, but today I was at Barnes and Noble with my kids and husband," Gina Lackey Diggs wrote to HuffPost. "When we came out of the store I saw a piece of paper under our windshield wiper. My removed it and saw it was a note that said, 'You are the world's only hope! Never give up! You are my people! Use this for whatever you can!' with a $20 bill inside! It was so awesome and random! I'm in California and don't know if it's because we still have 'Yes on Prop 37' written on our windows or our zombie family stickers or just random, but it was soooooo awesome!!!!"
"We started a fund here called 'The Forgotten Ones' where employees can give 10% of their next paycheck to hourly workers who they knew lost wages during Sandy," Marisa Beck wrote to HuffPost. "We thought this method of giving would be better than a generic one, since we would help the ones we knew personally, and who we knew were enduring hardship during this time. "Our engineers built a website to start documenting these stories and pictures, in the hopes of inspiring others to do the same. <a href="http://www.oo.com/forgottenones" target="_hplink">Please feel free to take a look</a>."
One solution to combat stress during the holidays is this tower of bubble wrap, which circulated on Twitter and is also an act of kindness. Underneath a sign reading "Anti-stress for free" are various bubble wrap sheets labelled 3 mins, 5 mins and 10 mins -- corresponding to how much time the stressed-out person needs. User @regeener sent the <a href="https://twitter.com/regeener/status/271016885473132544" target="_hplink">tweet</a> on November 20 with the original <a href="http://ktshy.tumblr.com/post/36164235847/superpunch2-anti-stress-sheets" target="_hplink">Tumblr</a> photo included.
We found this sweet act of kindness on Facebook, where someone using the account 'Michelle Phillips Key Seminars' shared something nice they did on November 20, two days before Thanksgiving.
A generous act of kindness was shared in a post on <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/135fgt/random_act_of_kindness_indeed/" target="_hplink">Reddit</a> a few days before Thanksgiving. A note next to a $50 tip left on a restaurant receipt reads: "A random act of love in memory of our son, Joel. He brightened everyone's day. May this brighten yours. Thank you."
"A friend of mine for 12yrs has cooked & wrapped Tgiving plates to pass out in town," @lmcallister tweeted on November 20.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County (@BGCHCorg) sent us this photo of their 37th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner at the Jersey City Boys & Girls Club.
Kerri Richardson (@KerriCoach) sent us this photo of a community in Mass. that came together to fill a 16-foot truck with supplies for Hurricane Sandy victims.
On November 20, Stephanie King sent us this photo, which shows shoes that her daughter wants to post on Craigslist to give away as part of <a href="http://www.B2Challenge.com" target="_hplink">B2Challenge</a>.
<a href="https://twitter.com/Uplifting_News" target="_hplink">@Uplifting_News</a> tweeted us this photo of a good deed from a Houston restauranteur who offered to give hungry families $100 toward a Thanksgiving dinner.
"A kindly strange security guard helped me change my flat tire after pulling off the freeway," @lolagil <a href="https://twitter.com/lolagil/status/270691407684059136" target="_hplink">told us on Twitter</a> two days before Thanksgiving. "Thanks again perfect stranger!"
@JayMortonRoss <a href="https://twitter.com/JayMortonRoss/status/271034645536186368/photo/1" target="_hplink">tweeted</a> this photo, which shows a thoughtful note written in response to a lost driver's license.
"I got this on Veterans Day," @Bryant247 <a href="https://twitter.com/Bryant247/status/271023722775863297/photo/1" target="_hplink">told us</a> on Twitter. "Sometimes, little things like this make it all worthwhile."
"Matt, hitchhiker got home to his family for the holiday," <a href="https://twitter.com/SaraTings/status/271311862895894529/photo/1" target="_hplink">@SaraTings told us</a> on Twitter.
"Last night I went to Target to get a Christmas tree on super discount," Stephanie Bayliss told us via email. "Silly me, I thought I'd stand in line for 10 maybe 20 minutes so I opted not to push a cart through the crammed store. The line wrapped throughout the store, weaving back and forth through almost every aisle. After about half an hour the girl behind me tapped me on the shoulder. She had gone outside, tracked down a couple who was finished with their cart, and brought it to me. What a sweetheart! I'm so thankful she did because we were in line for another hour!"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mgonzalez"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mgonzalez">mgonzalez</a>:<br />My housemate and I left behind bags of microwave popcorn at several Red Box rental stations for people to enjoy with their movie!
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mgonzalez"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mgonzalez">mgonzalez</a>:<br />I paid forward my friend's kind gesture by putting money in someone's expired parking meter.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mgonzalez"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mgonzalez">mgonzalez</a>:<br />My friend and I celebrated kindness by making an alien piñata, filling it with treats and leaving it on a bench for a lucky person to enjoy!
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/aMike"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/aMike">aMike</a>:<br />In my family I give presents for them to pass on to others. These take the form of gift cards from organizations like Nothing but Nets, Doctors without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, Project Heifer an many similar organizations.
Follow Danisha Bhaloo on Twitter: www.twitter.com/danishabhaloo