First, let me say a few things about what I’m about to write. I’m not a doctor. I’m not giving medical advice. And if you need professional help, please, please ask for it. I have asked for it many times over the years and I will continue to do so. In fact, I asked for help with anxiety after completing this challenge, and it has made a huge difference for me.
Okay! Now that I’ve given my disclaimer, let’s dive in. 😊
I have up and down days, like I assume most people do. But I don’t love feeling like I’m in a slump. I don’t love when hints of depression start seeping back into my world. And that is how I was feeling this spring. So, when I read this quote in How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, I thought, what do I have to lose?
“You can be cured (of melancholy) in 14 days if you follow this prescription. Try to think every day how you can please someone.” – Alfred Adler
I decided to embark on this 14-day challenge of focusing on others.
Here’s a recap of my days:
Day 1: Gave my sister-in-law a box of books to give out to teachers at her school.
Day 2: Tried to do my daughter’s workout with her. (It was hilarious!) Failed miserably but had fun.
Day 3: Tried to give away a Christmas present to a friend that I’ve had since Covid started, but she wasn’t at church, so instead, I cleaned up various things around the house for family members. Yes, I know this is normal for a mom, but I did it without complaining and with love in my heart. So that was new. 😉
Note from my journal: I find myself thinking throughout the day about what I can do for someone else.
Day 4: Gave money to Ukraine relief focused on feeding refugees.
Day 5: Texted to check on a friend. Stopped on the way home from school to get some hard candy for my son’s testing days at school. (Normally I hate to stop at the store on the way home. 🤣 Again, I did this with a happy heart! It was actually fun to love on him this way.)
Started focusing on my own health and let my imagination run wild. Counteracted the fears by praying for people in my life who have major medical problems.
Day 6: Shared about a friend’s book release. Focused on praying consistently throughout the day for my husband’s business and the stress involved. Sent a friend a book she mentioned wanting.
Day 7: Did not get anything done today and interestingly enough, my anxiety was quite high. As I was drifting off to sleep, I realized I’d missed doing something for someone and so I prayed through all the people I know who are struggling with health issues.
Day 8: Looked for simple opportunities to serve my friends and was able to execute a few of those. Went out of my way to be extra kind to a handful of people at Costco. The deli cashier at lunch had so much trouble ringing me up. It reminded me of my cashier days—so stressful at times! I encouraged her that I wasn’t in a rush, and she was doing great.
Day 9: Set reminders on my phone to pray for a friend experiencing a hard week. Posted something encouraging on social media.
Day 10: Sent How To Stop Worrying and Start Living to someone who had mentioned wanting it.
Day 11: I saw some things in an old journal that were discouraging and had a hard time climbing out of that sad, overwhelming place. I counteracted by texting two friends to encourage them.
Day 12: Gave something away for free that I could have charged for. Sent someone a book. Thanked and encouraged the staff at my doctor’s office.
Day 13: Didn’t accomplish anything. High anxiety day.
Day 14: Texted a friend encouragement. Prayed for a friend’s family. Tipped someone extra.
Overall opinion on my 14-day challenge?
I was surprised at how focused I was on thinking of others and how much it calmed or distracted me from my own supposed troubles. I obviously failed on some days, but I kept going. I didn’t let missing a day stop me from continuing.
At the start, I thought the things I would do would be big and life changing. But over the course of the challenge, I found it was the opposite. I did small things. And sometimes prayed for people who didn’t even know they were on the other end of those prayers. It made me realize that our actions don’t have to be momentous.
I always thought that I was aware of those around me—opening doors, smiling, noticing people, rising to assist when needed—but I found that I was hyper aware during my 14-day challenge. I was constantly focused and looking for opportunities to love others. Watching if I could help someone. It was interesting how much brain space the challenge took over. It definitely got me focused on others and not myself, which I loved!
My conclusion: Life is better when I’m thinking about others. (Not a huge surprise!😉)
I had hoped to continue the challenge after finishing the 14 days, but I found myself distracted. (Yuck!) I’m game for another round, though! If you decide to try this 14-day challenge, tag me! I’d love to see your journey.