Seth Godin first plopped these two words into my mind many years ago. Since then, this has become something of a personal mantra: How can I bring more joy into the world? How can I surprise the people around me?
It’s not enough to simply show up.
It’s about pushing boundaries, testing assumptions, and bringing intentional kindness into the communities in which you live.
Tweet me and let me know how you’re adding surprise and delight into your life.
Aging seems to get a bad rap in some circles, but I’d like to think I’m becoming a stronger, wiser, more patient, more grounded, and overall more confident person.
Leading up to my birthday, my goal is to complete 35 acts of kindness. I will make them public in hopes of inspiring a few of my friends to look for ways to spread kindness and love in their own communities and friend circles.
Kindness should be the norm, not the exception.
I think we can all do our part to make neighborhoods around the world more accepting, more tolerant, and more loving. That would be the best birthday gift, really.
Surprise a friend who is stuck at work with chocolate, snacks.
Coffee coupons. Make “vouchers” to give to friends for coffee dates.
Send a birthday cake to a friend in a different city.
Buy movie tickets for friends.
Volunteer at a local school (bring school supplies while you’re at it).
Be kind to yourself. Join a gym, eat well.
Support a friend’s business.
Throw an epic theme party and invite your closet friends.
Now, I’m going to let you in on a secret.
This isn’t easy.
Before I posted notes all over my gym, I was anxious as all get out. Is this silly, is this Too Over The Top, am I being childish?
We have to get comfortable with stress. In fact, we have to work to create it.
Not many people know this about me: I’m a Pretty Freaking Anxious Person. I worry. A lot. I get nervous. But with time and practice, I have learned to manage.
(My mom deserves some cred here for encouraging me to join various musicals and stage performances when I was a kid. Years as a street performer forced me to tackle anxiety head on.)
What do I tell my students? Fake it ’til you make it. I tell them this because this advice has gotten me through more situations than I can count: Entering a prison to interview a convict, switching careers and landing a job at a Manhattan ad agency, organizing my first 500+ person seminar, cold-calling famous people to invite them to events, starting crowdfunding campaigns to build something from scratch.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to better manage my anxiety. I’ve also learned that when I don’t feel stress, I get bored and restless and am probably not pushing myself in ways that I should be.
True evolution and meaningful growth come from those places you want to run and hide from: Tension and Discomfort. It is a worthy challenge to learn to settle into these moments. Instead of running away, ground down. Pause. Sit in silence.
And then go. Give.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
BONUS, if you’re still here:
Tell me about a surprise you’ve received OR given. How did it feel?
Last, and certainly not least, how do you manage discomfort and anxiety?