Every year when Martin Luther King Day comes around, I think about him. I think about what rights members of my family have because of what he and so many others sacrificed. It amazes me that it was just less than 50 years ago that this all took place. It seems so long ago to live a life where we were all so separate. And that was "normal". Although I am not naive enough to believe that prejudice no longer exists, I am grateful for how far we have come.
I am also grateful that children bring a fresh perspective to all of this. As I said, every year I think about MLK. However, this year, I had questions from my 6 year-old about him. He had the day off school and was interested in why. We talked to him a lot over the past several weeks about the upcoming Holiday, what it meant and who MLK was. It was amazing to me how much he could understand yet how he just could not wrap his mind around what used to take place in this country. He was amazed that 50+ years ago he would not have been able to go to school with one of his best buddies next door, simply because his buddy is white. He couldn't drink out of the same water fountain? What was that all about? He just couldn't get it. But slowly we saw his little mind "get it" as much as he could and become grateful for what MLK and other civil rights participants did. It was really cool.
I say all this to actually get to the point of my blog today, which was my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quote-
"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?"
I love this quote but wanted to blog about it because I think we have become a society where our most persistent and urgent question has become, "What have you done for me lately?" What are YOU doing for ME? Me, ME, Me, ME MEEE! We have become so focused on what we can get out of it, how does this help me, and how will that make me happy. I'm not saying we shouldn't take care of ourselves and focus on our needs to make ourselves better people. That is important. To take care of others, self-care is a must! But come on, selfishness is out of control! We are teaching it to our kids, too! We need to get out of this thinking and focus on how we can help others. So many people are struggling right now. People are suffering right next to you. Trust me, we see it everyday!
So what do we do about it? Start small. Start with intentionally doing one kind thing for someone every day. Either plan to do or say something to someone that will lift them. Or watch throughout your day for opportunities to help others. These little tiny acts get you focused outside instead of inside. Once you do that, you start seeing bigger things you can help with. You will feel so much better from focusing on helping others that you will WANT to do it more.
I feel like I need to put a disclaimer here- There needs to be a balance! I am not encouraging Codependency or Approval Addiction either! You still need to take care of yourself. And you aren't doing these things to get approval. You are doing these things to make the world a better place. To pass on kindness to someone else-hoping they will pass it along as well. Again- it's not about YOU! It's about getting outside of YOU!
So I challenge you today- do a random act of kindness. Get outside of yourself. Don't ask "What have you done for me lately?". What have you done for others lately? Thank you for reading. And by the way, I needed the message for myself, too!
*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.<br />