Driving down Pacific Coast Highway the other day, I was surprised to see that the large light-board sign plunked in the median strip near a major cross-street read, “Don’t text and drive.” For the past many years, that sign read, “Don’t drink and drive.” Apparently texting has replaced drinking as the primary cause of accidents on that roadway.

Which brought to mind the many times I’ve found myself having to slow to a crawl when walking through the mall, or down a sidewalk, because the individual in front of me was walking verrry slowly as they texted away. Or stood immobile, unaware of how they were obstructing the shopper flow in a crowded supermarket.

No, this is not a rant against texting. But what it reminded me is how important it is for us to remain conscious of our impact on others.

Recently, I discovered the Great Kindness Challenge, started by Jill McManigal of Carlsbad, California, which encourages school kids to be kind to one another (and to themselves!) by performing as many acts of kindness as possible every week, chosen from a list offered by the Challenge, free of charge. Performing those acts helps the children be more conscious of how they are treating themselves and others. Which has already proven beneficial in creating a more joyous and harmonious environment, which in turn is conducive to a better learning environment.

Now then . . . what if we adults did the same? Became more conscious of how we treat ourselves, and how we behave toward others. Not just towards the significant others of our lives, like spouses, boy/girlfriends and family, but towards the people we encounter in our day to day. Many of the Challenge items would work just fine for grown-ups, anywhere, anytime, such as: “Smile at 25 people,” “Compliment 5 people,” “Make a new friend,” “Hold the door open for someone, “Pat yourself on the back.”

Making the world a better place most often starts with each of us making our own world - the one we live in day after day – a better place.

My personal challenge (given my passion for appreciation) is to thank people who don’t expect to be thanked: the maintenance worker in a public restroom (“Thanks for helping us stay clean!”), the police officer taking a Starbucks break (“Thanks for keeping us safe!”), the Caltrans workers who remove the mudslides on our California roads (“Thanks for cleaning up our roads!”) I get an awful lot of surprised looks, almost always followed by a very pleased smile.

What’s yours? How would you best like to implement a Kindness Challenge in your life? Different from performing random acts of kindness (as wonderful as those are), a Kindness Challenge is directly addressed to specific people, there’s nothing random about it. Above all, what it accomplishes is to increase our awareness of the impact we have on others.

We are an interconnected world, and kindness breeds more kindness. Thank you, Great Kindness Challenge, for reminding us of the power of ordinary, everyday – kindness.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of over a dozen best-selling books. Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. She is the author of “Happy Healthy…Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong and How To Get It Right” (MindLab Publishing) You Matter. You Count. You Are Important. Visit www.noellenelson.com, https://www.facebook.com/MeetTheAmazings, #MeetTheAmazings, @drnoellenelson