By: Leanne Heller
Did you know, that if you dial 707-873-7862 (707-8PEPTOC), you reach a hotline where children offer you pep talks and well-wishes? The hotline was created by West Side Elementary’s enrichment program, located in California. You can get encouragement, advice, and if you press 4, children’s laughter. Pure joy, right? Something we can all use a little more of in our lives. Apparently - by last month, the hotline had received more than 13 million calls.
Similarly, my town’s Facebook group recently posted asking everyone to participate in bestowing a small act of kindness on a stranger this Friday. This could be paying for the person behind you in a coffee line, smiling at your grocery store checkout person, or surprising someone with treats for the holidays. The original poster shared the population count of the group and asked members to think of how many potential acts of kindness could be carried out and what that would feel like on a community level.
Life is stressful. I don’t remember the last time I spoke with someone and, when I asked how they were doing, they replied, “You know, I have just the right amount of things on my plate, everyone I love is mentally and physically healthy, and I believe in the intrinsic goodness of the universe.” I would even possibly be deeply concerned if I received this text, to the point where I’d drive to their house and make sure they weren’t suffering from some sort of delusion and/or the consequences of an abundance of leftover eggnog. (No judgment on the eggnog, by the way, we have some in our fridge that has been slowing gathering strength since Thanksgiving.)
Anyhow, my son and I called 707-8PEPTOC last night after cleaning up the kitchen, just to see if it was still up and running and wasn’t a scam. It wasn’t! And, it was pretty darn heartwarming. I genuinely felt better for having had a pre-recorded small child telling me I could accomplish my goals and was doing okay. I think a lot of us just need a reminder that, despite all the noise, we’re doing our best and we’re doing okay.
I plan to invite both of my children to try the Friday act of community kindness. My daughter is younger, so I will suggest she get her friends into it. My son is a teenager, and I feel that asking him to campaign for altruism with his peers would be awkward and a stretch, but I can see him bringing this to his Friday activity, which is a mix of kids of many ages. Or, I might turn the idea on its head and ask what acts of kindness they have already done this week because they are often miles ahead of where I think they are. Kids are great like that.
Sometimes, it’s the small things. The moments of connection and kindness that stand out if we take a moment to notice them. As individuals, we can feel the surprising joy of an unexpected positive act. As parents, we can see our children experience this as well and man, the feeling when we see them bringing this to others.
So, here's to the simple but profound power of kindness. Whether it's a hotline spreading cheer or a community coming together for anonymous acts of goodness, it's helpful to know that amidst life's chaos, we can still find moments of warmth and connection. Here's to more laughter, more kindness, and the wonderful realization that, for the most part, we're all doing okay. Here’s to the small things, the good things, and showing up for both!
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