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This is the third entry in the ongoing 52-Week Prosperity Plan. Each week has its own different concept for readers to concentrate on, in an attempt to open one’s mind to new thoughts, ideas, and perspectives. For more information on the 52-Week Prosperity Project, including tips on how to stay focused, read the introduction to the plan. For past entries in the series, click here.

This week’s concept for the week of May 9 through May 15 focuses on kindness, and the long-reaching effects it can have.

Sounds pretty simple, stating that kindness can have long-reaching effects, similar to the way a pond ripples outward, but let me tell you a story to illustrate exactly what I mean…

Imagine its Monday morning. Not only is it Monday morning, but its 5 am. Oh, I almost forgot… its 5 am on a Monday morning and the temperature outside is 10 degrees. You head outside to your car (your car is parked outside because you either have a one-car garage your spouse parks in, it’s used for storage, or you don’t have one because you live in a cheap apartment like I do), only to find that you left one tiny little interior light on, and now your battery is dead. 

You either drive the spouse’s car, use the spouses car to jump yours, or (if you live alone), call someone at 5 am to come give you a jump. All in 10 degree weather.

You’ve finally got your car running, only to find that East-bound traffic (the direction you’re heading), is at a stand-still due to a wreck about, oh, 10 miles up, while the West-bound traffic flows unimpeded. Because of this, you no longer have time to stop and get that morning latte you so desperately already need.

You get into work and, lo and behold, at your desk is an exceedingly large pile of work already waiting for you … all of which are “high-priority” items. 

And then a co-worker stops by to chat, with one of two things to say…

1.       “Man, this weather is a bunch of crap, isn’t it? Oh, did you hear about what Joe in accounting said about Sally in HR? Yeah, well you didn’t hear it from me, but… well, maybe you should just ask Sally. Anyway, I’ve got a ton of work to do, the boss is already on a warpath, and it’s only Monday. What a great way to start the week…”

Or

2.       “Hey, what’s up fellow co-worker? Did you have a good weekend? Oh, that bad huh? Well, the weekend’s over now, so maybe next weekend will be better. Hey, how about I take you out to lunch today? My treat… we’ll go to that new Mexican place that just opened down the street, I hear it’s pretty good.”

 

Let’s focus on number 2 for a minute. Considering the kind of Monday you’ve already had, how does a few kind words and the promise of a friend taking you out to lunch change your outlook? Did your day suddenly seem just a little bit better?

Let’s think about the kind of day you would have after this interaction. Maybe you stop by the break room for a cup of coffee to replace that latte you missed. While not as good as the latte, caffeine is caffeine and you’ll make do. While in the break room you notice another one of your co-workers caught in the throes of a loaded, Monday morning sigh that simply screams “poor me”. You’re feeling a little better after the kindness co-worker# 1 showed you, so you decide to try and cheer her up.

Turns out she simply needed a little sounding board for something that’s been on her mind lately, and after getting the issue off her chest, you can practically see her mood brighten. She then heads off to her corner of the office, where she answers customer calls with a little more optimism and cheerfulness than she would have had you not shown that minute amount of concern and kindness.

The customers she deals with are pleasantly surprised to talk to someone who sounds happy and relatively care-free, and they in turn go on to interact with others throughout their day in a positive light, which cause those to do the same, and on and on and on.

It’s like a disease, this kindness thing. And it all started with that one co-worker asking how your weekend was. 

Now, for number 2. The first thing out of that co-worker’s mouth is something negative that only re-enforces your negativity, followed by some low-brow office gossip. Then comes the usual complaining about work and how much of it there is, which of course is only exacerbated by blaming it all on that “slave-driver” of a boss you both share.

After that interaction, you head to the break room for your coffee. You pour the motor-oil-like sludge into your little Styrofoam cup, viewing it as nothing more than a necessary evil. You notice the sighing co-worker and simply say, “don’t ya hate Monday mornings?” as you walk out and head back to your desk.

 

The co-worker in the break room sighs yet again, heads back to her desk, and answers customer phone calls with all the exuberance and pep of someone who has just been told their favorite puppy ate something in the backyard and died.

 

The customers that she speaks with are met with the unhelpful, depressing, irritated voice that they were expecting, and as a result, half of them decide not to do business with this company anymore.

The stock price of the company drops as a result, the CEO commits suicide, and you’ve now been fired because the person who bought the company decided to do a little restructuring.

All because you passed on your negativity.

Okay, obviously this is an extreme example, but you see where I’m going with this. The point to take away is that your words, whether good or bad, have a long, far-reaching effect on people, and you can’t possibly predict what may happen down the line.

Your focus for this week is to speak kindly to others, practice listening to what people are actually saying, and maybe performing a kind act for someone who is obviously in need of a pick-me-up. Do all of this while trying to eliminate passing on your negativity.  

Tips to stay focused on the week’s concept:

1.       Write the week’s concept down on a post-it or a scrap piece of paper and post it somewhere you will see it on a daily basis, such as your fridge, the bathroom mirror, or even the dashboard of your car (people who ride with you think it’s weird, but it works!). The point is to be reminded of the theme often throughout the day.

2.       Each night before bed, brainstorm two or three ways to apply the week’s theme, and jot them down in a notebook, in your planner, or E-Mail them to your office E-mail address. Then, actually apply them the next day.

3.       In the morning before your day begins, take a moment to think about the weekly concept and how you will apply it throughout your day.

4.       Every night, reflect on how you actually implemented the weekly concept and how it has positively changed your way of thinking or behavior.

5.       During lunch or sometime half-way through your day, take a moment to sit in a quiet place and re-commit, reminding yourself to view the rest of the day through the lens of the concept of the week.