In light of the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook (and the tragedies that strike our nation daily, albeit on a smaller scale), I decided to stop posting silly Christmas Pinterest finds and spend that time celebrating the holidays in the way we were meant to celebrate…with the ones that we love.

This weekend as I sat and stared at the horrific news on the TV for way longer than necessary, I made a pact with myself.  I made a pact to stop sulking and actually try to do something positive for the people around me.  Something that I hoped would overshadow the negativity that’s consistently plastered in the media and help restore my own faith in humanity.

Before I get to the good part, I have to explain the bad…the reasons why I feel like I am partially responsible for the bad in the world.  The reasons I believe we are all responsible.

Ever since the shootings at my own school, the shootings that took place just outside my classroom window as I watched helplessly, I have been emotionally scarred.  My crippling anxiety, my fears of being in crowded areas, and my absolute fear of people in general has taken over my life.  I have literally become a prisoner of my own fears and anxieties.  Public bathrooms, airplanes, busy malls, educational lectures, movie theaters, concerts, subway rides, bars, and restaurants…all of the places where most people would enjoy themselves have become places where I am constantly on edge. Though some people may sympathize with me, that was not the intent behind sharing my own issues…because my personal tragedy still doesn’t even hold a candle to the problems that the majority of the people in this world are faced with daily.

Too often I find myself lost in my own thoughts and insecurities to even notice my surroundings, let alone the people in them.  Everyday, we encounter people who are suffering and the actions that we take (or don’t take) may actually impact the course of their futures.  Think of how often you’ve heard a parent unreasonably snap at a child in the middle of a store, how you may have seen a mother so frazzled that she looks to be on the verge of tears, seen a child being bullied (or even an adult being bullied), a person stranded on the side of the road, or a little old woman struggling to bend down and pick up the keys that she dropped….whether these people are having a bad day, month, or year, the simplest act of kindness could greatly impact their lives.  It’s our responsibility to do something.

Recently, a friend of a friend’s mother passed away.  The part of her obituary that struck me the most was a story her friend told about her.  Every morning when she was in the drive-through line at Dunkin Donuts, she would buy the person behind her’s order.  The simplest act that could instantly turn a bad day into a good one.  Another touching story was the one from the family of a man who passed away from cancer.  Every time they dined out, they would unsuspectingly give a small portion of his life insurance money (a large tip) to the waitress who helped them.  Finally, we’ve all seen/read/heard of paying it forward…doing something kind for someone in hopes that they will turn around and do something nice for someone else.  This is the premise of my vow to myself.

At one time or another through Facebook or Twitter, we’ve all seen the 365 day photography project or the 30 reasons to be thankful during Thanksgiving.  While I would love to do a daily post of how i’ve helped people, I don’t even leave the house some days because i’m so lost in my work.  Instead, I promise to teach myself to open my eyes to the people around me.  To reach out and help when it’s least expected and to share my stories with you guys.  To brighten one person’s day in hopes that they will turn around and do the same for another.  In hopes that the world will become a more selfless place…a place where we exhibit kindness and generosity instead of unknowingly breeding hate.

Through the holiday season and into the new year, I ask you all to do the same….to vow to help someone and spread kindness as often as possible.  By posting your good deeds publicly, on FB Instagram or Twitter, I hope that being kind will become infectious.