I don’t believe in coincidence. I think things happen for a reason. I don’t have any proof of that or proof of who or what sets those things into motion to happen when they do. I have always followed this thought pattern because it has made the most sense for my life in celebrating the good times and in growing past the difficult ones. Lately, this concept has taken on greater meaning for me.
As I try to incorporate Small Acts into my daily life I have noticed that my experience of life has deepened. I am more engaged with those around me, even if I don’t know them, and somehow by being open and willing to show others compassion, love and gratitude comes to me without my having to search it out.
Self love through awareness
Plain and simple, it just feels better to show love. Secondly, I think it must start with me. It’s much easier for me to show others love when I first give love to myself. The most simple way I’ve done this lately is by consciously choosing to be more aware of the present moment and my mental attitude.
When I’m experiencing some emotion that’s difficult or negative I try to accept those feelings and then start to work through them in the most constructive way possible. Negative feelings and emotions are still part of my humanity, and usually offer a lesson I can learn about myself. When I’m having a positive experience I try to share that positive energy with others through a smile, wave hello, or just fully experience it on my own.
Life is meant to be experienced, not judged
I don’t ignore my experience of life anymore. I practice self love by choosing to experience my life and my humanity in all its glory and madness. As I’ve worked to incorporate this idea into my actions I’ve seen that it is reflected back to me.
I met a man at the brewery the other day waiting for his connecting train back to North Carolina, his final destination being Asheville, one of my favorite cities and eventually the general area where I'd like to settle down.
He said, “what it boils down to is love. If someone wants to argue with me, they win, but I will still show them love in the end.”
He expressed that he had traveled all over the world and participated in various religious ceremonies in other cultures. He practiced these rituals, not to adopt their beliefs, but to enrich his life and grow his soul. He expressed how magnificent his experience of life has been when he just chose to be open, love, and live each moment to the fullest.
It wasn’t coincidence that I met him that day. It was a message I needed to hear that reinforced my own beliefs and these new attitudes I am working to embody. The experience of meeting and talking with him encouraged me to continue being open to the experiences and opportunities life has waiting for me, rather than judging life, feeling sorry for myself if things aren’t perfect, or trying to “figure life out.” Sometimes life is just a mystery, not meant to be solved.
Release Expectation, Trust Life.
I’ve also noticed that just being open and letting go of expectations and preconceived notions has enhanced my experience of life. In simplified terms, trusting life. Last Thursday, when I decided to be open and release my anxiety about assumptions for the way the night was going to turn out, I ended up having a blast. I set out to show love and dispel worry that night. I trusted that things were going to turn out fine.
We stumbled upon a Christmas party for a hospital unit at UVA where we happened to know the doctor who organized it. We met tons of awesome new people, danced, laughed, and genuinely had a great time. I don't think I could have fully appreciated this experience or even been a real participant had I not made the decision to "give up" my anxiety earlier in the day, and just trust what life had to offer.
Change starts with the individual
Our time on Earth is finite, and our actions leave a mark on others’ lives. I encourage you, especially during this holiday season, to practice the Small Act of being a little more open and accepting of what life has to offer, good and bad. In the end, the compassion and acceptance you share will return to you multiplied. The sum of all this being a contribution toward bettering our world. Collective change must start at the individual level.