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How To Spread Love In Your City in the New Year

How To Spread Love In Your City in the New Year

In the age of technological progress happening at the speed of Google Fiber, the world is more connected than ever, but we can feel completely disconnected from our closest neighbors, friends, and the people we walk by every day. Here are some practical and small ways that you can spread love in your city, not just over the holidays, but throughout the new year and beyond. We are all humans, we are all people, and we all deserve some love, comfort, and happiness in our lives. You don’t have to donate billions to charity to make a difference in someone’s life! Everyone can make a difference and contribute to another person’s happiness.

1. Fully Listening to People

There is a difference between hearing someone and really listening. Really listening to someone can be very powerful, and can show someone how much you care about them and their feelings. We all want to be heard and understood. How can you listen better?

According to Harriet Cabelly, a social worker and positive psychology coach, you first need to understand the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is simple, listening involves the whole self – attentiveness, interest, and concern showing through. Stay present during the full conversation, ask questions, acknowledge the person’s feeling, it’s all part of truly listening to someone. Go forth and really listen to people, you may just find that you don’t know some people as well as you thought.

2. Smile

Smiles and laughs can be contagious. Spread positivity by radiating it! Smile at those harried people in line at Starbucks, as you’re walking down the street, and at your coworkers. A smile and kind hello can mean a lot to people, and can make someone feel good. When someone smiles at you, you feel as though you’ve been noticed, and a simple smile and “hi!” can make someone’s day a little brighter. This free and easy way to spread love will make you also feel better!

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Charles Darwin first posed the idea that emotional responses influence our feelings in 1872.

“The free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it,” he wrote.

The idea that when we frown, we feel pain more intensely and when we smile, our brains believe us to be happier has been explored by psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales, who performed a study based on whether botox, since it inhibits facial expressions, also inhibits our feelings.

So, smile!

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3. Help Strangers

In a world full of 7 billion people, it is easy to get caught up in our own world. I life in New York City, and basically the entire city, teaming with millions, are strangers. But every day, I am awarded a beautiful sense of community when I give a homeless person a sandwich, or see someone helping an infirm person across the street, or giving the embarrassed person in front of you that extra quarter they’re missing. Little things like this give us a sense of connectedness, and helping strangers in small ways is a fantastic way to help people and spread love across the world. Help people without thought of compensation or reward, do it because you can and should.

4. Pay It Forward

Paying It Forward can happen in many different ways, but a way that it’s happening these days that makes the news is at Starbucks! Paying it forward refers to someone purchasing the coffee or order of the person behind them in line. At one Florida store, the pay it forward chain lasted 11 hours! It started at 7 am at the St Petersburg location and lasted an amazing 378 people! What could be the record for the longest pay it forward chain at a Starbucks in Newington, CT, where starting at 8 am on Christmas Eve in 2013, and lasted over 1000 customers. These small acts of kindness are said to inspire and influence people to continue performing acts of kindness, not just to the customers behind them in line, but to others in their lives.

Make sure to pay things forward in life, in general. When I was young, just starting in my career, I was given amazing training and mentorship by another employee, and have tried to pay it forward to new people throughout my career, hoping to assist people and help them gain not only understanding of their current job, but also of what it means to be part of a team and mentor others.

5. Offer Acknowledgement and Recognition

We have all felt what it’s like to do something and not get recognized. While you should not be doing good or kind things for acknowledgement or recognition, it is always appreciated when someone does recognize it. Mostly I refer to work situations. Recognize and give credit to your colleagues and employees. The people who work hard, achieve things in the workplace, and try to be great employees. Just like with children, most people want to be genuinely recognized and acknowledged for doing well at work and in life. When you tell someone “good job!” you’re showing them that you noticed and appreciated them and their hard work. As simplistic as it seems, many people every year leave good jobs simply because they feel unappreciated.

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In 2013, Forbes published an article stating that 2 million Americans quit their jobs voluntarily every month, and that according to a study done by Accenture, 43% of people quitting their jobs cite “lack of recognition” as the reason. This is a huge percentage and something that is so easily remedied. Appreciate your people! Just because you pay someone to do a job doesn’t mean that person doesn’t deserve recognition when they do it well. In a world where great employee retention is a huge part of success, you should not be losing anyone to them feeling unappreciated for their work.

6. Be Grateful

It’s not just for Thanksgiving! Spread love and positivity by expressing your gratitude in life. I like to tell my partner “We are so lucky. We’ve worked hard and we have a wonderful life. Look at all the things we have to be grateful for: each other, our families, our jobs, our friends.” Sometimes we all need a reminder that the little things and disappointments in life are not what’s important, and that we have a lot to be thankful for. Tell your friends you appreciate them, thank your boss for being a great role model and helping you, tell your parents you love them. Spread the love!

7. Use Good Manners

This one may seem silly at first, but how many times has someone bumped into you and you apologized? Or you saw someone wave or say hello at work and you were too busy or distracted to respond? Good manners are noticed and easy to do. Look people in the eye when you talk to them, call people by their names, and if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. The golden rule of life is to treat people as you wish to be treated. So wave to your neighbor, say hello, excuse me, please, and thank you. It seems simple and it is, but good manners make a difference to people and a difference in how people treat each other. Manners are an indication of kindness and respect for others, and this is a great way to spread the love.

8. Small Acts of Random Kindness

Put change in a meter that’s about to run out. Hold the door open for the person behind you. Hold the elevator. For goodness sake, use your turn signal! Donate your loose change to a local charity. Random acts of kindness can turn someone’s day around, and will cost you little to no time or money. Why wouldn’t you want to do small things that can help people? If you think of most people as inherently good, you should also want to do good things for people in the world.

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9. Do Pro Bono Work For a Great Cause

You can use your professional skills and do short term or long term work for your favorite local or global charity through CatchAFire.org, which connects people with the right skills to the nonprofit organizations that could use your help. Right now there are projects waiting for volunteers from everything from needing Marketing Strategies to Storytelling help, to Grantwriting to Website Construction. If you have great skills, some time, and a love of volunteering, these projects could be a great way to volunteer in a new and interesting way!

10. Donate Anything!

Donations are not all about money. You can donate anything these days, from clothes and shoes and purses to books and tools. Instead of throwing away anything, try to donate it to someone who could use it first. Homeless shelters often desperately need socks and hygiene items, women’s shelters always need things for the kids and teens like books and toys, animal shelters need pet toys, bed, and leashes, and Goodwill and Salvation Army will take almost anything. There are even services who will take your old kitchen appliances like refrigerators and microwaves! Why throw away something that works or still has life in it, when it can go to people who need it?

11. Visit An Animal Shelter

Spend time with man’s best friend and man’s animal that tolerates them by going to a shelter and walking some dogs or cuddling with the homeless cats! Animal shelters have more animals than humans, and often need people to help play with and take care of the animals. This would be a great date, or a fun day with your best friend. And you never know, maybe you’ll even find your next furry companion!

12. Love Yourself and Be Happy

This may sound trite, but the best way to spread happiness and love is by radiating it. Show the world love by loving yourself first. Spread positivity by first being positive. You being happy and appreciative and grateful makes it easy to spread that happiness and gratefulness to others. Be the best version of yourself by being thankful for what you have, by having a good work ethic and a strong will. Learn new skills and maybe you’ll want to teach others. You as a person are the best advertisement for happiness when you’re passing it out to other people.

Featured photo credit: Virginia Is For Lovers by Jon Cornwell via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

She could hear her beautiful baby crying but was frozen in the doorway unable to move. The crying got worse and she knew that unless she comforted the infant soon the baby would be inconsolable, and yet her feet wouldn’t move. She didn’t look at the cot but the floor in front, where the venomous hairy monster sat before her…. .okay it was a UK spider so not likely to kill her at all, and yet still her body was frozen as the tears fell down her face. “What a useless mother you are” she berated herself.

That awful mother was me 14 years ago. My fear of spiders had not been controlled for years and I was at the stage where I wouldn’t open a newspaper until my husband had read it and removed the images of spiders. I hated houses that had wooden floors or skirting boards because every knot in the wood could be a spider about to crawl across me.

At the height of my fear, I tried to get out of a moving car. Clearly this harmless 8-legged creature had massive levels of power over me but now that fear is gone, I’m never going to love spiders but I’m not going to leave the room because of one and I can read the word without freaking out and sobbing.

If you think that fear is irrational, what about the fear of going to airports? Or the fear of not asking for help?

Today I want to look at how our irrational fears impact on us, how they can destroy (and I don’t use that word lightly) our success. They can damage our health and even stop us from living our lives. And then I’ll share the benefits of fighting that fear and most importantly how you can fight your fears too.

How irrational fears impact your life

The thing about irrational fears is that we are not keen to look at them. It makes us feel inadequate, weak and daft because we can’t do things that it seems everyone else can. That gives the fear power.

Fear loves negative emotions and saps up yours making your fear bigger and uglier and even more powerful. Not ideal to say the least. Fears can cause us to:

  • Avoid situations where that fear may have to be faced. Dodging parties, new jobs, new experiences where we aren’t sure we will be able to protect ourselves.
  • Stop us from sleeping for fear the thing we fear will “get us in the night.” For me this was massive, and I stopped sleeping which had massive implications when my job was to look after a toddler and a baby. I felt half dead most of the time!
  • Feel ill with the stress. Stress can be the cause of wrong decisions. Drinking alcohol when we shouldn’t, eating chocolate because it makes us feel better, the list of excuses is long that we hold on to so that we can avoid the cause of our stress.
  • Cause more distress as our minds overload us with negative thoughts of inadequacy. This can damage our confidence. Having coached thousands, I know that a lack of confidence is usually the underlining impactor on most people’s success across all areas of their lives.
  • Risk looking aloof or arrogant because we won’t participate like other people. Our fears can even isolate us in our personal and professional lives too.
  • Feel debilitated. Needless to say, these fears may look irrational and shouldn’t exist to the outside world but to the sufferer they are debilitating. Even impacting on their earning potential, love life, hobbies, travels and personal and professional success.

Why bother to fight the fear

Couldn’t you just ensure you live your life in way that you don’t have to deal with your fear?

I had a client that was so scared of flying that they couldn’t even take their partner to the airport, another who had avoided public speaking for over 20 years and yet now at the height of their profession they had no choice, what were they going to do? Quit? There was another who could never ask for help and another who feared people finding out who they really were.

All these fears and many more can be fixed but only if we can appreciate the benefits of fighting the fear.

Let’s look at the benefits of fighting your fears:

If you’re going to change the way you do something, something that has impacted on your life, thoughts and actions for years, it can be hard to believe change is possible.

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The first thing you must do is give yourself a big enough reason why. Go back through your life and remember all the occasions that this fear was there.

I can still see the spider trapped in my hair because it had obviously been on my hairdryer. I also remember that I probably looked ludicrous in the South of France in my underwear running down the lane screaming and flinging my hair everywhere. The poor spider had not only been flung a long way from my head but was probably destroyed in the flight.

Remember the feelings, the actions, the negative feelings you felt afterwards, for me it meant that every time I picked up a hairdryer I could see a spider crawling towards my ear in my hair. Guess how helpful that was for reinforcing my reactions and irrational fear?

Really experience the fear. Make it so painful that you probably notice your heart racing, your shoulders drawing up and your breath changing. That fear is causing physical change in your body, doesn’t feel good does it?

When the irrational fear is challenged and destroyed, it can’t have power over you. So new opportunities can come your way and instead of fearing them and what people will think of you for your choices, you can be open to;

  • New hobbies
  • New travels
  • New opportunities
  • More success
  • Financially more secure
  • Happier
  • Healthier
  • Confident

The list is long so what can you do to get rid of your fears?

How to fight your irrational fears

In my book Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, I cover 12 of the biggest fears that I see impact on success and happiness. Not all of these are obvious but they all have far reaching impacts on our lives.

Here are some of those ideas to help you fight your fear and get more of what you want out of life:

Why did this happen?

For some people they really need to know why the fear started, for others all they want is to get rid of it. If you need to understand yours then don’t skip this tip. Learn how your fears are made and appreciate where yours came from. If you don’t care how it arrived, you can jump to top tip 2.

I’ve seen some clients who are not prepared to look at how to get rid of the fear until they’ve understood how it got here in the first place. It’s not my place to tell them that is right or wrong, just to help them find the right steps to lead them to a happy path.

When a fear first starts, we don’t acknowledge a fear has entered our lives. It is only after a few occasions that we begin to notice that there’s a strong negative emotion connected to this “thing”. That’s how fear is allowed to grow because as humans we have in-built responses that have kept us safe for our entire existence. This means we are meant to perceive fear and either run or fight, either way our bodies jump into action creating physical responses to the perceived threat.

Look for when you first noticed the fast heart beat, the shallow breathing, the shaking hands, the redness. You have created an automatic way of dealing with this fear. It could be that it felt sensible to fear this because you had an unhappy outcome, although it is usually the case that your head has the facts and your heart is not prepared to hear them as it creates a version of the event that is far scarier than it actually was.

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Learning how to remove the emotions and feelings will help you to change your body’s response. The first time I fixed someone’s fear of public speaking, they told me that it physically closed their throat, I worried that was it possible with words to change our physicality? The answer was yes! With the tools and techniques I share below.

The tool kit

From the many people that have contacted me after reading Fight the Fear to my clients, I know for even myself creating a tool kit is a must. This is not a bag that you physically must haul everywhere. This is about learning tools that really resonate with you so that when you can feel the fear start to impact on you, you’ve got your kit ready to take it on.

I don’t have the space in one article to share all of those tools so let’s visit a few:

1. Why I’m awesome

Creating a 2-page handwritten document of why you are awesome can help. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, overcoming adversity and all of those will be full of positive emotions, actions and feelings. It is not easy to write, and I get many messages telling me so however it is a powerful reminder that you can stand up and accomplish.

2. Draw out your emotions

Earlier we looked at how irrational fears can damage every aspect of our lives. If you were to follow the negative spiral down you can follow the positive spiral up again.

I draw these individually for clients and with each action, thought or feeling we put an arrow between them. Each arrow is an opportunity to do something different. If we know that irrational fear is an automatic thought process, then we can start to see that we need to think, do or feel something different. Top tip 3 will help with that.

3. Acknowledge that you need to change

It’s not easy to change, and that is a belief that many hold. Top tip 4 could assist further, however for this tip, remember that when you want to do, think or feel differently, you’ve already achieved the first step and that is recognizing something must change (you don’t need to know what). But if you aren’t sure yet if there’s really something different you want to do, this story about Nancy may help you to figure it out.

Then it’s about acknowledging it. That means not only accepting it but feeling that it is yours to take on and change.

Then for 2 weeks, decide that you won’t allow the thought to be in your head. There are usually some negative thoughts allowed to fester in your head. At this stage, just say “No I’d like you to stop.” After 2 weeks choose a new thought that you would prefer to hear in your head, maybe “I can cope with situations that scare me” or “I am stronger than I know”.

There will be times when you fail. Don’t berate yourself because that is another negative thought you are allowing your head to process. Just start again and at times like that have a read of your “Why I’m awesome list”.

4. Choose your words carefully.

I’ve heard many clients tell me that “It’s going to be hard to change” “I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t petrified” or “This is a lot to ask”. Any thought that gives power to your fear takes away power from you to fight it. Therefore, choose how you word your goal to overcome your fear carefully.

Think thoughts like “I remember when I achieved xxxx and that reminds me I’m far tougher and more capable than I give myself credit for”. (Take the xxx from your why I’m awesome document.)

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5. Believe that you have the control power

The only person that can control what we think and feel is us. I know it can feel like other people are impacting on us, however they can only do that if we give them permission to do so.

If you really think about that for a moment, can you see that you have the right to think and feel anything you want right now? I’m certain you wouldn’t choose pain, fear or anxiety. So, what would you choose to think about your fear?

6. Put up physical reminders

Working one to one, I can find the fear, work through it and create a tool kit of thoughts, feelings and actions that will help them fight that fear and get rid of it. For some, they don’t need physical things to help them; others do.

For example, the CEO who was petrified of public speaking but could handle a conference call with 300 without a second thought, imagined the microphone was a phone when they spoke in front of 400 people to help reinforce the positive thoughts and ideas we’d created.

Or the client that always worried that they were an imposter and “someone else can do this better” pinned on their office wall a tag cloud of all the words that made up their “Why I’m awesome document”.

So they had a daily reminder. They were the right one for the job and they could do it. These daily reminders all come down to one key point — help you to Hack the Habit Loop.

What would be your visual clues to remind you that you can overcome this?

7. Physical supports

Music, environment and even smells can impact on us. Know the music that makes you feel alive and ready for anything. Try aromatherapy oils to feel positive and energised. Even choose your work environment or clothing to empower you.

Changing these things is physical and giving yourself physical ideas to action can help power up your emotional state too.

8. Don’t go it alone

The fear to ask for help is very real (and has a whole chapter in my book) so I know people really struggle with this. The fact is we all need people. We are not insular by design and as such it can be tough to admit that you have a fear impacting on you.

However, by sharing your fear with a trusted friend, colleague or loved one can mean that when you are feeling the fear. you can talk to someone. It could be that you share with them the contents of your tool kit and ask their permission to be added to it. That way they know what works for you and how to best support you.

It’s not a sign of weakness to tell people about your fear. It takes massive levels of strength to say, “I have this fear, and I want to get rid of it.”

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9. Get physical

One of the reasons that a fear can escalate is because we have come to accept that response. Our body reacted in a certain way, once repeated the behaviour and it became a formed habit that was accepted.

Challenging a fear can be done using our body too when we appreciate that fear is actually a reaction inside our bodies. We don’t need to understand where in our brains or what chemicals are racing through us to use our physicality to help us challenge our fears.

When I was writing my book, the Cuddy Superhero pose was proved and disproved by various researchers around the world 3 times. Whether it’s real or not, the fact is the way we stand, the way we breathe and even the speed at which we speak can impact on us as well as those around us.

If you have a fear of public speaking or a fear of people thinking you are stupid or a fear of what people are thinking you can look at how you speak, stand and move. If you compare these with people you deem confident and happy in these situations, how do you look? What can you learn?

The research around placebo’s reinforces us that if it feels like it is working, then keep doing it! What could you use to help reinforce your power and fearlessness?

A little fear can be good

As someone famous once says:

“It is not fear, it is performance energy.”

Despite having an absolute hatred of public speaking 10 years ago, I now love an audience and yet I have a healthy level of fear. That level of fear says “Are you well prepared?” “Do you know your audience?” “Have you rested your voice?” “You really want to deliver to this audience what they need” And those thoughts are sensible.

And just remember, it’s never ever too late to face your fear and do what you desire most! It’s even possible to start over your life no matter what stage of life you’re at. Here’s the proof:

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

So as you reduce your fear, be aware of a good level of fear.

Featured photo credit: Isaiah Rustad via unsplash.com

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