Four Ways to Be Mindful of Helping Others
One day, a few years back, I was going through a bit of a hard time. However, I appeared happy, social and everything seemed fine on the outside looking in. Internally, I was screaming in a crowded room asking for someone to care, someone to notice, to push past my walls after I simply said, "I'm fine." It wasn't until a cashier who I saw regularly asked if something was wrong. I said, "Oh, *insert fake laugh* I'm fine! Just tired." She then replied, "Now, don't you lie to me, I know something's wrong. If you ever need to talk, I truly am here."
Her being aware of my emotions made me feel important, like I mattered. That's when I realized I wanted to be intentional and more aware of others. I'm going to share my four tips on being mindful to help make this world a better place.
1) Ask the Really? Question
If you ever get a sense that someone is hurting or something is wrong, all you have to do is ask if they're ok. Most likely they'll say they're fine. That's the moment you ask, "Really?" and usually the flood gates open. That happened to me while I was in an Uber and a sweet, precious older lady was my driver. We started chatting and I found out she just moved here, but something seemed off. So I pulled the good ol' "Really?" card, and lo and behold, she was struggling with many demons that I won't share on here. I said, "How about you pull over, I'm going to pay for parking and treat you to some dinner." We laughed, we cried and were there for each other. So, don't be afraid to ask the really? question. You could save someone's life.
2) People Watch with Care
People watching with care is also a great way to observe the human experience, but it teaches you mindfulness for your own psyche. You can never imagine the things you will see when you truly pay attention. For example, my sister was in China on a business trip, when she realized that there was a teenage girl with an American man in his 60's that she had seen in a bar earlier. China, and many other places, are unfortunately hubs for sex trafficking. When my sister had the opportunity the second time, she asked the young girl, "Are you ok? Do you need help?" Sadly, the girl, with extremely sorrowful eyes, said no. However, it is through this people watching with care skill that you could potentially save the next girl's life.
3) Pay attention to the homeless
Mindfulness isn't just for the "average Joe's" benefit; it's also for those who have fallen on hard times. Every Tuesday on my way to work, there was a street performer of Latino decent who took my breath away. I loved his music. I could almost smell the warm air and envision him as a child running with friends, learning to play the guitar. I could feel the happier times within his music. So every day, I stopped to listen. Even though we didn't share the same language, we spoke to each other through his guitar. Whenever I had cash, I gave it to him. I hopefully made him feel appreciated when I truly saw him. Take the time to see someone else, whether it's the plumber, CEO, or homeless person. You'll see a whole new world.
4) Do things that no one sees
Through being mindful of others, we can do great things. However, it's addicting to be "kind" when someone is watching. It makes you look good, but there's a chance you will embarrass the person you are "helping" and make them feel less than. I was filming a TV show one time and I genuinely wanted to help this homeless man. I felt extremely uncomfortable with the camera watching, but I moved forward with it anyway. I know that many people might think that I was doing it for national television, but in that moment it was just me and the gentleman that had fallen on hard times. I made a concerted effort to help when no one was watching. It's a great exercise in humility and a great test for your motivation. That being said, leave a $20 on a sleeping homeless person's bag. If you see a car parked and the person's meter has run out, put some change in it so they don't get a ticket. If you see a bird stunned by a window in the blazing heat, take it to the nearest shade (yes, that happened. Took my entire lunch break, but it was so worth it). It is actually quite easy to brighten someone's day, as well as your own.