I'd like to thank a person who unfriended me on Facebook. You see--about three years ago I started a movement of doing acts of kindness every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At first, it seemed a little unnatural to be doing nice things and then posting pictures on social media. My goal was to raise awareness to get people involved in doing acts of kindness themselves. My hope was to magnify the movement through sharing.
A few weeks into my initial kindness campaign, I was unfriended by a former colleague. Not to say that we were all that close, but I had noticed her absence on my feed and clicked over to her page only to discover that I had been unfriended. I also noticed she had a public post asking people a question. To paraphrase that question, it was "Do you think that it is selfless to do acts of kindness and then post about them online?". The goal of her post was to incite a debate on whether or not doing good deeds was in fact honorable if they was shared on social media. There were several comments in response to her post about how I was probably doing it for validation or out of desperation for attention.
At the time, I was very confused as to why someone would take what I thought was a good thing, and not only turn away from it, but also put me on trial on social media questioning my motives. This required me to take a deep look inside, and ask myself if I really was doing this to magnify the movement: or was I in some way looking for external validation?
It took a few years before the lesson really sunk in. At the time, I considered not doing the acts of kindness anymore because her words stuck with me. I thought maybe she was right and that sharing good deeds publicly was inappropriate. I remember posting about the matter on social media. in hindsight, I wish I had not given it as much thought as I did. In essence I was allowing her words to deter me from my purpose. When I did decide to move forward with the acts of kindness, my heart told me that I was in it for the right reasons. Wonderful things begin to happen.
I am proud to say that years later, I've gone on to launch a successful non-profit art company to raise money for acts of kindness. I've been given the opportunity, after meeting Arianna Huffington, to write this blog. I've carried out hundreds of acts of kindness, and motivated others to get involved, creating a domino effect of good deeds.
So why give it a second thought and more attention now? I want to acknowledge what a wonderful thing it was to be unfriended by this person and to have had my motives questioned. The lessons I took from this exchange continue to serve me everyday.
You see, no matter how good your intentions are, someone will always question them. The only thing that matters is whether or not you listen. If you look for the criticism, you will always find it. People will want to dim your light, for their own reasons, and it's your choice on whether or not you allow it.
It wasn't the first time I was maligned, and it sure won't be the last. As my social media presence and online community continues to grow, I know the trolls are out there. When my husband and I recently married, and asked our guests to do random acts of kindness to help us celebrate, the story went viral. Among the tons of wonderful feedback there were some ugly racist comments. There were also comments questioning the motives of our generosity, just as I was years ago. This time though, I wasn't phased because of the lessons I learned from the "unfriender."
Negativity and positivity both exist in the world, and to think that we will live our lives devoid of the darkness, is naive. The one thing we can control is our own attitudes, and how much credence we give to disapproval from others. If we allow the haters to keep us down, or dim our shine, we allow the negative to take over.
There's still plenty of negativity out there, so I continue to do random acts of kindness, in an effort to be a part of the good in the world. I continue to do it loudly, and proudly, in hopes to inspire others to stand with me. There's still plenty of darkness out there to combat.
To the woman who unfriended me, thank you: For teaching me to rise above and preparing me for others with the same limiting beliefs. You're not alone, and lucky for me, neither am I. I believe that good does exist, and I plan to spend my lifetime proving it.