Do Small Things with Great Love, Jonaliza.comI’ve started the new year with a mission to spread the abundant love I have beyond my comfort zone because it doesn’t hurt to have a little bit more of it in what many perceive as this cruel, cruel world.

This is an extraordinary feat to undertake by one person, I know, and although I’m up for the challenge, I ask all my friends to help by performing this deed so that together we can expand love’s reach.

But what exactly do you do to “spread the love”? It’s easier than you may think; simple acts which can bring a little sunshine to someone’s day, maybe even save a life. We all go through some form of hardship during our lifetime, and knowing that people around you genuinely care enough to go out of their way to show you for no reason but kindness changes your attitude towards life and humanity, and more importantly, gives you hope. I know this because of my personal experience with emotional distress I was able to overcome thanks to the love that surrounds me.

I am lucky and for that I am grateful, but everyone’s situation is different and, unfortunately, not everyone has the same luck. As I visit homeless shelters and senior centers around the area, I can’t help but be heartbroken to see other people’s reality of struggle, and at times feel guilt and wish that I could take on their suffering to free them from it. I know that doing this would only be counterproductive and that is why I am taking it upon myself to do my part by spreading the love instead. And if you want to join me, here are 7 things you can do to help:

1. Smile a Lot

According to this article I read on Psychology Today, a scientific study was conducted and proved that smiling can lift our mood as well as the moods of those around us because when people see your smile, they automatically feel rewarded. So, make your smile a staple accessory to your wardrobe and wear it often, waking up with it in the morning and going to bed with it at night. A quick flash of your pearly whites may just change the mood of even the crankiest person you come across.

2. Lend a Helping Hand

See an elderly trying to cross the street? Or a pregnant lady juggling bags of groceries? How about a disabled veteran on a wheelchair struggling to go up a few flights of stairs? Stop what you’re doing and lend a helping hand. What will take only a few minutes of your day may just make a long-lasting impact in that person’s life, or at least make it a little bit easier than it would’ve been had you not been there to help.

3. Give a Compliment

If you’re at a restaurant and your server is doing a great job handling your food, tell them. If the IT support specialist did phenomenally in helping you resolve your tech issues, make it known to them and their manager. Or if you’ve just watched a colleague do exceptionally well with their presentation, praise them.

According to another article I read on Psychology Today, giving compliments “create positive energy and are powerful in motivating continued efforts”. It also boosts the mood of everyone involved, so you’ll feel good giving them as the person receiving them.

4. Listen with Purpose

I couldn’t have said it better than what this article on by psychologist Dr. Gail Brennan says about listening: “True listening goes well beyond hearing the words that are spoken. It involves opening ourselves to deeply understand the experience of the other.

We listen not just with our minds to comprehend the ideas being expressed, but we open our hearts to fully receive the person before us as they are.” Sometimes, this is all it takes to spread the love. You may just learn a thing or two about a person, or better yet, develop a lifelong friendship.

5.  Be Grateful

I’m sure you’ve heard of this saying: It is not happiness that brings us gratitude; it is gratitude that brings us happiness. According to this Harvard Medical School article, “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships”.

Take a moment every day to realize all the things to be grateful for and show gratitude, whether through meditation, prayer, or writing in a journal. If another person or other people are involved, express your gratitude verbally or with a thank you note.

6. Do Volunteer Work

There are so many advantages to doing volunteer work that I don’t know why people don’t do more of it. Not only do you gain new skills, experience and contacts, but it also has been proved to be good for your health. According to this Harvard Medical School article, “a 2012 study found that participants who volunteered with some regularity lived longer, but only if their intentions were truly altruistic.

In other words, they had to be volunteering to help others—not to make themselves feel better”. Do yourself and your community a favor, find an organization with a mission that you believe in and volunteer time to help them with that mission. If you aren’t able to make a long-term commitment, you can always join me and my friends at one of the volunteering events I’ve organized.

7. Receive the Love

The best thing about spreading the love is on occasion and when you least expect it, the love will come back to you. When that happens, receive the love with an open mind and open heart. You are only human after all, and you need love too!

I am certain that spreading the love goes beyond this list, but I hope that it will at least help get you started. If everyone in the world would just take a few moments to perform small acts of love, we may just succeed in ridding of all the hate and finally live in peace and harmony that philosophers have spoken of and  poets have written about. All it takes is for all of us to do our part to get a little closer everyday.

Leave your comment below for other ideas on how we can continue to spread the love, then breathe it all in, love it all out, and LET’S GET CONTAGIOUS!!

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