If asked, who among us wouldn't say we were kind people? But kindness is often manifested in feelings of pity or sympathy--especially when others are watching--rather than in deeds. And when it comes down to it, what good does mere feeling do for the world? Your Next 24 Hours is about something much bigger--a lifestyle of kindness, without thought of reciprocation, extended toward every person in our lives, both friend and foe. Through powerful true stories of kindness lived out, this book shows readers the enormous difference they can make through small, doable acts of kindness in their families, communities, workplaces, schools, and churches. It shows how every encounter with another person is an opportunity to be kind--and a chance to change our world. Readers of Your Next 24 Hours will find deep satisfaction and joy as they discover how they can be part of a revolution of kindness that starts with them and reaches out through every person their lives touch.
Hal Donaldson, with the help of Kirk Noonan, put together this inspiring little bit of nonfiction to get readers thinking about how they can make their little corners of the world just a little bit better. Pretty apt timing on this book's release, I must say!
"Happiness is a result of who you are, not just what you do. Your acts of kindness are an outward expression of the love and happiness in your heart."
Hal Donaldson is the co-founder and president of Convoy of Hope, a non-profit organization which strives to provide services to those in need around the world, whether that be through nutritional programs in school, shelter & job training for abused mothers looking to start over, or even disaster relief services. Your Next 24 Hours pools together what Donaldson has learned not only from his work with Convoy of Hope, but also his own life experiences from having survived a childhood in a painfully broken home, the relationship between his parents irrevocably shattered.
This book starts with a foreword from Candace Payne, aka "Chewbacca Mom" of Youtube fame, who recently got signed to a multi-book deal herself through Zondervan Publishing. I noticed the outside of the book also features some interesting choices for promotional blurbs, one being from Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels and another from Curt and Nancy Richardson, inventors of Otterbox tech protective cases. The one blurb I really loved though was from San Francisco 49ers tight end Vance McDonald:
It's easy to love the lovable, to be kind to the kind, and reciprocate to those who have first done something nice for us. Ours is a world built around the bold and the beautiful, the pretty and the eloquent. But what about those who are seemingly unlovable, shy, unnoticed, less fortunate? Such people are all around us, and we often take them for granted. But just as Jesus modeled, perhaps we could lift up their spirits if -- through kindness -- we simply noticed them. Your Next 24 Hours encourages us to do just that!
Once you get into the meat of this book, you'll see that each chapter starts with an inspirational quote from a celebrity name you know. Just to name a few: Princess Diana, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Mother Teresa, Marilyn Monroe, Matthew McConaughey, Audrey Hepburn, Walt Disney, Nelson Mandela, Denzel Washington, Magic Johnson, Ellen DeGeneres, Natalie Portman, and Jane Goodall. Many more are included. Also referenced are inspirational stories of generosity involving celebrities such as Paul Walker, Kate Winslet, Adam Levine, Jake Gyllenhal, Zendaya, and Amy Adams. Each chapter ends with a "Kind Ways" list, suggestions for little ways you can incorporate good deeds into your daily life, either through acts that benefit others or steps you can take to improve your own mental / physical wellness.
So how do you heal a strained relationship so the stress doesn't interfere with your sleep? First, realize that some disputes can be healed in one conversation while others may take months or years. Despite your apology or attempts to make amends, some people are bent on taking grudges to their grave. Second, call for a truce -- even if there's nothing more you can say or do to turn an adversary into an ally. Third, make every effort to return aggression with love -- and repay disrespect with honor. Your enemy may not respond with grace, but at least you can know you tried. When conflicts arise -- and they will -- take immediate action. Try to reach a quick resolution or compromise. Don't allow days or weeks to pass before endeavoring to heal wounds caused by the dispute. Otherwise, minor bumps and bruises can become long-term injuries to the relationship. Seek to reconcile through respectful conversation and acts of kindness. If voices begin to escalate into a heated exchange, don't try to match decibels. Remain calm and composed. Mother Teresa said, "I have found the paradox, if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."
In among all these celebrity anecdotes (as well as his own) and tips to motivate the reader to action, Donaldson also offers up some solid lines to ponder on. Just a few of the little life truths he wants you to remember:
- "Fulfillment doesn't come from exceeding others, but elevating them."
- "No home is perfect; every family faces its share of ups and downs. But a home founded on love and kindness can weather any storm. When crises arise, you can stand with confidence and say, 'We are family, and no matter what, we're going to make it through these challenges together.'"
- "Listening is kindness. It tells people you cherish their words and value their opinions. It says, 'You matter.' Kindness means seeing the unseen, hearing the unheard, and touching the unloved. Relentless kindness is contagious."
- "Listening also means hearing what people are not saying. Some are wounded, alone and afraid. Their jobs may be tenuous and their family fractured, and you'd never know it. They suffer in silence because they really don't know whom they can trust. It will take someone like you, who hears what's not being said, to reach out to them and offer encouragement."
- Also, "Forgiveness is kindness."
- "Don't try to settle disputes through emails or texts. Meet face-to-face whenever possible. Don't allow a friendship or business relationship to suffer because you didn't take the extra step of connecting in person. Whether you're negotiating a cease-fire in your family or circle of friends -- or mending fences in a business relationship -- your acts of kindness are never wasted. With a little good fortune and a dose of understanding, your adversary could one day become your most-trusted ally."
- Donaldson also gets into the science behind kindness: Acts of kindness increase levels of oxytocin in the brain, which decreases depression and strengthens the immune system. Your body gets a natural high from the oxytocin boost, so your brain continues to encourage you to look for more opportunities to do good. Win-Win: your health improves while you do your part to improve the lives of others! Added bonus: surveys say happy people, on average, live about 35% longer.
- Donaldson reminds readers of a few of the hard truths behind acts of kindness as well: sometimes those acts mean something of a sacrifice on your part. The key thing to remember is that your sacrifice demonstrates that you are aspiring to live a life that rises above solely benefiting yourself. Your sacrifice benefits others in need, and that's no small thing! That being said, he also stresses the importance of knowing how far to go with generosity / charity. Sometimes an impulsive act is good, other times it pays to do your research... sad truth is there ARE some sketchy people and companies out there who will take advantage of your kind heart if you're not careful. Donaldson gives you some tips on how to go about being simultaneously smart and sweet at heart.
Once you're inspired to carry out these small acts of kindness on your little patch of Planet Earth, Donaldson then explains how your little acts positively will positively affect the world on a global scale. Along with this, he also stresses the importance of being kind to the planet itself, being environmentally conscious, and ways you can go about doing that if you are unsure of where to start. Though this entire book is under 200 pages, there is a bounty of inspiration and information to be harvested from its pages! If you find yourself discontent with the state of the world right now and want to make a change but don't know where to start or if you are skeptical about how much difference little ol' you could make in the grand scheme of things, I urge you to try this book out and see for yourself that every little act helps! If you are on Twitter, Hal Donaldson encourages you to share your stories of progress with him (@ConvoyOfHope) under the hashtag #YourNext24
FTC Disclaimer: Baker Books kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book & requested that I check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own.