Seva: A January Challenge
My dad is the most incredible man I have ever known.
Randy Wild moves through life purely from a place of love and giving, and he makes it look effortless. He is selfless and understanding, thoughtful and sweet. He is also a long-time business owner, an auto mechanic, and a Montana man. Although he is not a "yogi" in the asana sense of the word, he gives and gives and gives his heart. I can't imagine the day I'll see him step into a yoga studio. He is not a vegan nor vegetarian nor gluten free nor paleo. He has not read the 8-limbs of yoga. But I'm convinced he's one of the most loving people to walk the planet, and that's what this blog is about. It's not about being a good yogi on your mat, but about cultivating this practice throughout your life. It's about choosing love in every moment of the day, through the challenges and the happy moments alike. I decided there would be no better way to kick off this blog (and the new year!) than to dedicate the first month to the man who taught me how to give with my whole damn heart.
My dad has always told me to do one good deed each day. He calls me often with a story about how he pulled someone's car out of the snowy ditch or gave a young couple a $50 bill to buy themselves a nice dinner - and sometimes he even says it's from his daughter Nicole. Growing up in a relatively small town, I have met multiple people who have stories of being at the bowling alley when my dad bought the whole alley pizzas, or on the plane when he bought everyone (21+) on the flight a drink. With humor, sweetness and endless fun, he is always there to make somebody's day and I'm the luckiest person in the world to call this man my dad. He inspires me to give it all back two-fold, and I hope you will too.
So, I have a challenge for you: For the month of January (and then beyond), I encourage you to do one good deed every day.
I encourage you to make somebody's day with a small gesture or a big one. This should include strangers and loved ones alike, and even those that challenge us and test our patience. It could be as simple as smiling to a stranger on the street rather than walking with your head down, donating blood, holding the door, or making a meal for a loved one. This is Seva, or selfless service: an act offered without any expectation of reciprocity. And the beautiful thing about seva is when we begin to function from a place of giving, our levels of joy and contentment actually seem to rise, and so do those of the people around us. We are creatures wired for compassion and taking care of each other. And when you do something nice for another, they're likely to pay it forward as well.
Over the month of January, I'll be encouraging a handful of more specific good deeds including some small events around the Bozeman community (stay tuned!!), but it's truly up to you to take this into your hands. Maybe it feels corny or intimidating. Maybe you already do this every day. Either way, give it a shot. I have made a list of ideas, but it's truly endless. Be creative and enjoy it. As we begin, just remember this: It is not about keeping score. It is not about doing something nice for another person just so that you can feel you've gotten "credit" for doing something nice. You may even make some of your good deeds anonymous, knowing that the true nature of Seva requires that you do not expect anything in return. You are giving for the sake of giving.
A few last things: Get your families, especially children, involved. The giving spirit does not end with the holidays. It's a whole-year-round type of service! Your deeds don't have to involve money. If you are on a budget, there are endless good deeds you can do that don't require you to spend anything. And finally, have fun with it. Let it be light and playful. If you have the urge to do something nice, don't question it. Just do it!
Here's the list I've put together. Send me your ideas, too!
- donate blood
- buy the coffee for the car behind you in the drive-thru
- cook a loved one a meal or a treat
- volunteer (hospice, the food bank, the cancer center, nursing home, pet shelter etc.)
- bring homemade goods to the local fire station
- leave quarters in a snack machine
- feed expired meters
- walk your neighbor's dog
- take some extra time to teach your child a new skill
- write a hand-written letter or note
- donate to goodwill
- sign up for a CPR course (you can take them online now!)
- pick up trash from the sidewalk
- be a little more environmentally friendly this month
- apologize for something that may be lingering
- call an old friend to catch up
- adopt a shelter animal
- offer forgiveness
- self reflection: how can you make a positive change in your attitude or outlook which will benefit the people around you?
- leave a bigger tip than usual for your favorite barista or waiter/waitress
- switch all your lights to energy efficient lightbulbs
- let someone ahead of you in line
- give a genuine compliment
- participate in a Meatless Monday
- write thank-you cards to your loved ones just because
- tell your partner 10 things that you love the most about them
- leave a treat in the mailbox for the mailman
- donate to the food bank
- turn pennies on the sidewalk heads up (they're for good luck!)