What should we do when the world is broken?

When my son gets injured, he wants the medicine doctors can’t prescribe—a kiss from mom.

“Where does it hurt?” I ask. He tearfully holds up a chubby arm or points to a red knee.

He’s a curious toddler, and as a result, I’ve kissed a lot of boo-boos lately. It’s made me notice pain more than usual. And I’m not just talking about my son’s slips and falls. This is a greater problem.

Folks, America is in pain. And if we asked where it hurts, the response would be: everywhere.

Every day, it’s just tragedy after tragedy—with the latest hitting close to home. This morning as my husband got dressed for work, I wrestled with how to break the news that hundreds were shot in the city where his parents live.

“There are a lot of people in Las Vegas,” I reasoned. “But you need to check on your sister.”

It’s days like today where I find myself adding to the monster list of reasons I am afraid to step outside.

After all:

Just days ago, I flew to Boston—a big city familiar with domestic terrorism.

We have family in Vegas, and I’ve walked along those busy streets with my little boy by my side.

Under our roof live humans of differing skin colors.

Friends of mine lost everything in Houston.

Just this weekend, tragedy struck at a football game where my senior class gathered for our 10-year reunion.

And literally at this very moment, a news alert lit up my phone: “Police investigate after shooting victim found in northwest OKC.”

I want to scream. “STOP. JUST STOP ALREADY.”

Because, we don’t have to look very far to find evil. It resides in every neighborhood in every city. But, the truth is…so do joy and hope and humanity. Sometimes it can be difficult to see, but remember:

If you ever feel like you can’t find joy around you, you can always be the one to produce it.

That’s why I’m committing to random acts of kindness this week. And, I’d love to invite you to join me. Together, let’s:

Leave a note

Grab a pack of sticky notes and let loose writing notes for:

  • That coworker who gave a rockstar presentation, despite her nerves
  • The postal service worker who always waves when he drops off the mail
  • The cleaning crew who keeps your office’s bathroom sparkly so you don’t have to
  • Your child’s teacher who is exhausted at the end of the day, but smiles anyway
  • Your spouse, children, or loved ones
  • Strangers you pass in the store

The list is endless. Thankfully, sticky notes come in large packs.

Give a compliment

Have you ever heard Mark Twain’s famous words: “I can live for two months on a good compliment”? I have to agree. And the cool thing about compliments—they’re free, and so easy. Not to mention, the smile you’re likely to receive in return is a pretty nice reward.

Pay it forward

They say the best things in life are free—and that’s probably true. After all, it doesn’t cost anything to give a compliment or drop a note. But, if you’re able to spare a few dollars, consider buying coffee for the person behind you in line or bringing a candy bar to the colleague who desperately craves an afternoon pick-me-up.

Spread the word

We’ve all had customer service experiences that aren’t great. And typically, we’re pretty quick to vocalize those shortcomings. Trust me, I’m guilty.

But, what about service that meets or exceeds our expectations? Chances are, those experiences slip by unnoticed. So, next time you’re “wowed” by a store clerk or customer service representative, tell their manager. You never know what that person is going through, and a little bit of praise may make a huge difference.

Write it down

Despite all of the sadness in the world, we’re still blessed. And since it’s easy to forget, take some time to write it down. Every day (or even once a week if you’re extra busy), spend a few minutes creating a list of 5 good things you saw, heard, or thought about today. I’ll start:

  1. Coffee still exists
  2. I have a bunny
  3. My family is safe
  4. My boys are healthy
  5. Someone held the door open for me, fully aware it would take me five minutes to get to said door while juggling the baby carrier, computer bag, and heap of papers

Now, I’m not suggesting that positive thoughts, compliments, or sticky notes can bring back the lives we’ve lost. And I’m certainly not implying that one coffee gifted to a stranger will change the world.

However, I AM proclaiming that change starts with the tiniest of steps.

If I pass a note to a stranger that reads, “You’re an awesome human, keep up the good work,” it probably won’t prevent mass violence or heal those who’ve lost their loved ones.

However:

If we ALL pass a note to a stranger, we ALL say something nice to a coworker, or we ALL mow the lawns of our elderly neighbors… that’s when the good begins to outweigh the bad. That’s when a butterfly’s wings can create a tsunami of hope on the other side of the world.

We have to start somewhere. Won’t you join me?


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