Intentional Acts of Kindness. Interview with Stephanie L. Jones.
Last month, February 17th celebrated Random Acts of Kindness Day, a day dedicated to celebrating and encouraging random acts of kindness. Stephanie L. Jones, author and giving expert, believes that everyday should be a day of giving. In fact, after setting a goal to give a gift to someone every day for one year, Jones ended up giving gifts for more than 500 days straight. This journey of giving changed her life and has set her on a mission to continue to give and inspire others.
Stephanie L. Jones carries out her mission in a number of ways. Not only does she continue to give in her everyday life, but she also hosts the Giving Your Best Life podcast and spreads her positive message as a TEDx speaker. She is also the best-selling and award-winning author of the Giving Gal, The Giving Challenge, and Thank-You Notes to God.
Jones spoke with the Garden State Woman Education Foundation and shared her knowledge on giving and gratitude.
- What is the most significant thing you learned during your mission to give a gift every day for a year?
"There are opportunities to give all around us, but we must look for them. We live in a fast-paced world, often focusing on what we have going on or trying to accomplish. If we take the time to slow down, listen to those around us, and pay attention to the people that surround us, including strangers, we'll see the gifts we need to give."
- How can parents and caretakers teach children to practice giving and gratitude?
"There's an old saying, 'practice what you preach.' We can't just talk to children about giving and being grateful, we have to show them what it looks like in our words and actions. How do we speak when we pass a homeless person on the side of the road? It is words of kindness. Do we give them a smile, money, or a meal, or do those gifts elude us? We tend to busy our lives with activities that serve our interests. Are you signing your family up to volunteer? Even if it's a couple of hours a month, it teaches the children so many lessons about the power of getting involved in your community and serving.
Gratitude is a powerful mindset tool we should be taught in kindergarten. If morning time seems to be a little rushed, take a moment to pause with the children, and say, 'What can we be grateful for at this moment?' When you are hanging out together in the evening, ask, 'Tell me about something that happened today that you are grateful for.' The more this becomes a habit and then a lifestyle, when things aren't going so well, they can use gratitude to find the good during a difficult time."
- What impact does giving and gratitude have on one's mental health and view of the world?
"There are numerous research studies on the impact giving and gratitude has on our mental health. We are happier, healthier, less depressed, and less anxious. Now, we have to practice each of these things consistently to see the benefit. It's not a one-and-done, even though you may experience that 'helpers high' after one gift!
Pay attention to what media you allow into your and your children's life. If it's the news and social media, the worldview will be negative. Turn off the news, stop scrolling, look around, and see all the good. If you don't see any, make it yourself!"
- How can we incorporate random acts of kindness into our everyday life?
"Honestly, I no longer believe in random acts of kindness. The action we take isn't random, it's intentional. That's why I love to call it intentional acts of giving/kindness. Controversial, I know…lol! I gave a gift every day for 522 consecutive days, and as I looked back on that journey, I found four things that made me successful in accomplishing my goal to give daily. The first was that I had to define a gift. And my definition was simple: give and expect nothing in return. Don't expect a thank you, excitement, or even a smile. Stripping the expectation is a powerful mindset shift in showing kindness to others.
Second, I had to get up every day and declare, 'I'm going to give a gift today!'
Third, I had to intentionally look for opportunities to give. They are all around us, we just have to look and listen.
And fourth, but most important, when you see the opportunity, you must take action. It does no good to see someone in need and not help, have someone pop into your mind and not give them a phone call, or send a text or a note of encouragement, or sign up to volunteer and not show up.
We all have great ideas on how to change the world, but the impact comes when we take action, one person, one gift at a time."
To learn more about Stephanie L. Jones and her work, visit givinggalbooks.com. Watch her TEDx Talk here. Connect with Stephanie L. Jones on Facebook, Instagram @giving_gal, Twitter @Giving_Gal, and LinkedIn.
When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.