While most people come up with New Year’s resolutions to better themselves, Warwick’s Marilyn Lang is dedicating the first 29 days of 2014 to being kind to others.
Lang has decided to start a 29-Day Challenge and perform one act of kindness for someone else each day; she started on Jan. 1. The acts can be as simple as calling a friend who is sick or as big as spending a day volunteering for an organization. Although she is not looking for any recognition, Lang hopes that by sharing her project others will be inspired to follow suit.
Lang was inspired to start this project by La Salle Academy senior Gianna Jasinski, a fellow honoree at a brunch held by the Association of Fundraising Professionals in early December. Lang explained that a few non-profits were honoring some of their volunteers, and Jasinski was one of the event’s speakers.
According to Lang, Jasinski had been conducting acts of kindness since she was a child but had recently expanded the idea to a 29-Day Challenge in her school, church and local community in an effort to make things happier, easier and better in some way for others.
“I guess it was a big success,” said Lang, who was impressed with how well-spoken and caring Jasinski was, even at such a young age. “She is now encouraging people to do this.”
Lang decided to start her own challenge and sent out an e-mail message to friends and family members to see if they wanted to join her. About 15 have said they were “on board.”
“I thought ‘wouldn’t that be a nice thing to do for the New Year,’” said Lang. “It makes you think about what you can do for others.”
According to Lang, Jasinski was inspired to create the 29-Day Challenge by a book. “29 Gifts: How A Month of Giving Can Change Your Life” was written by Cami Walker, a woman who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 33. After beginning treatment for the condition, which kept her in and out of hospitals, a friend who was an African medicine woman suggested Walker spend 29 days giving away one “gift” each day. According to a description on Amazon, the book tells Walker’s story of how her life changed by giving gifts, some as simple as a phone call, spare change or a Kleenex to someone. After the 29 days, Walker felt healthier, happier and had started a new movement.
Originally, Lang had asked her friends and family to send her a log of the acts they performed so she could put together a booklet, but after discussing the project with friends she decided not to.
In a second email, Lang writes, “I have been reminded that doing a good deed or an act of kindness, if it is given from the heart, should not be talked about or written about, so we will take the option off about keeping a log and sending it to me for a booklet.”
Although she will not record others’ acts, Lang is keeping a personal log so she can look back after the 29 days.
“You do your acts of kindness, keep it to yourself or share if you would like,” said Lang. “I think it is a good idea to keep a personal log.”
Lang explained the acts of kindness do not have to be big; for her first act, she called a long time friend she hadn’t talked to in a while just to say hi and wish them a Happy New Year.
“I wouldn’t have thought of that if I wasn’t doing this,” said Lang.
She is also not planning any of the acts ahead of time; she is just seeing where each day takes her and how she might be able to fulfill her act for the day. For example, Lang was in line to buy a coffee when two soldiers got in line behind her; she decided to pay for their orders as a way to say thank you for their service.
“I don’t express myself well. I wouldn’t go up to a soldier and say thank you, but it was a way to thank them,” said Lang. “How often do you get to thank a soldier for all they do?”
Lang hopes more and more people will be inspired to think of others. “It’s just kind of a loose thing, get people to think of other people,” said Lang.
Lang explained that the idea is to perform this 29-Day Challenge to start the year, but believes there is never a wrong time to be kind.
“If you miss a day, that’s OK. If you start next month, that’s OK,” she said.
Lang also said that the random acts could continue past the 29 days.
“Because of the challenge, I am trying to do something every day, but maybe I’ll think about it going forward,” she said.
Although the goal is to give to others, Lang says performing the acts of kindness also gives her a sense of satisfaction in helping others and puts a smile on her face.