Small Loving Acts: examples and meaning

When it comes to the example of loving acts, some people may have greater attention to the big ones instead of the small ones. A big charity or endowment and an expensive gift are some clear examples of them. But what about the small ones, do people recognize them?  And are they aware that small, loving acts can actually make a great difference?

Well, I dare to say that I am sometimes neglectful of those small loving acts that I can do every day. It is therefore, I want to write them down, hoping that this note will help me looking back of small loving acts that others have given to me, so that I can cherish them in my life. I also think that by writing them down, I will be less neglectful, so that I can be reminded to often do small loving acts every day. Here are some small loving acts that are hanging in my head now:

The first and foremost is a smile. Smiling to each others, even with people whom we never know or met before does not only make us look good on the outside physically, but also mentally. Barbara Fredrickson, a principal investigator at the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Lab, University of North Carolina, said that people need three genuine smiles daily in order to lift up one negative emotion. Dr. Suzy Green, a psychologist and adjunct lecturer at the University of Sydney, also mentioned that genuine smiles will lengthen our personal wellbeing 30 years later. She even used ‘smile’ as part of her dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), to tolerate the distress brought on by her patients’ intense emotions. It is therefore clear that smiling often, genuinely, no matter how many times in a day will be beneficial both for our body and soul.

Another small loving act that is also important, is spreading the good, kind, thoughtful, and wishful words to others; friends, family, and colleagues. Every person doesn’t only have his/her moment in celebrating their achievement and happiness, but also has his/her moment of sadness and disappointment. By spreading out our genuine supports and prayers, even if we cannot directly help them financially or technically, we actually have helped them literally. Our genuine words of encouragement and prayer, and our pleasure in celebrating other’s happiness will mean a lot to them. As a Swedish proverb said, “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow”. If we congratulate others, their happiness is multiplied, and if we listen and share other’s sadness, we lessen their sorrow.

The third loving act that people may sometimes forget is saying “Thank You”. Thanking someone does not only express our appreciation to other’s people helps, but also shows our empathy and respect to them. We just may never know, if others actually have to spend hours and hours to finally decide to help us. We may also never know if our inquiry or expectation to others creates ‘troubles’ in their family or relationship. In Islam, a religion I belong to, in which the act of worship to God (Hablum minallah) is required to be in balance with the act of kindness to other human beings (hablum minannas) , thanking to Allah only, is not enough. It will be incomplete, if we thank God and we forget others who help us.

Of course, besides three small loving acts above, there are other acts that we can do every day. We can throw someone else’s small litters to the garbage can, well, if we found them near us and they are not too disgusting. We can set aside big rocks, cable or things like that are lying in the middle of the road. We can give small tips to those who have worked for us. We can clean up after ourselves in the public toilets. We can give our seats in the bus to those who are physically older, smaller, or weaker than us. And last but not least, we can take care our neighbor’s mails or pet while he or she is away. Of course, there are many other small loving acts that look small and easy to do, but so great in meaning, felt great in feeling.

I think the world would be a better place, if people ‘compete’ in doing small loving acts, genuinely. And as a Moslem, I believe that God loves all human beings, no matter how religions we inherit, belong, or practice to, to live with a kind loving attitude and respected manner. With this note, I am reminding myself, and I am happy if this can be worth reading for you too. Aloha!

Riverside, July 7th, 2010




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