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Spotlight On: 500 Kindnesses

If you have an idea, often the biggest obstacle in the way of making it happen isn't your lack of skills or the idea's effectiveness. Sometimes the biggest obstacle is one's just not doing it.” – Todd O'Reilly

Photo courtesy of infomatique
These wise words of motivation come from Todd O'Reilly, the founder of 500 Kindnesses, an 1800km charity bike ride encompassing Toronto, Montreal, NYC, Boston and Cape Cod.  Unlike most charitable endeavors, instead of money, donors are asked for pledges to perform acts of kindness.  Todd and his 13 year old son will take on the challenge together this summer.

The purpose of the bike ride is to remind people the world is full of kindness and that it’s sometimes very simple to turn kind intentions into kind actions. To prove it, as of right now 500 Kindnesses has received their 213th pledge - a coordinated act of kindness to support Kiva, an organization I have blogged about before.

I recently spoke with Todd about making a difference and living mindfully…

What is your definition of living mindfully?
For me it's about doing things with a clear idea of your intention.  So much of the time we're living our lives on autopilot. We commute to work some days and do it so automatically that when we get to work, we wonder how we even got there. And of course being aware of one's intentions is only part of it.  Being aware of the consequences of one's actions is of huge importance as well.

In the context of this project, I also think it's important to be aware of the connectedness of everyone.  Helping one person in the community doesn't stop with them.  Each act of kindness creates ripples that affect people several degrees removed from the original recipient.

What will happen post 500 Kindnesses?
That is a fantastic question.  I think there will be likely some sort of similar projects in the future - maybe with different routes.  I've thought of doing another ride through, for example, the US South.

How do you hope to make a difference in this life?
I want to be as kind, mindful, and compassionate as I can be on any particular day and hopefully that is more so than the day before.  And kindness, and in fact all actions we take whether good or bad, resonate through those around us.

What words of advice do you have for someone who would like to make a mark, but doesn't know how?
You have everything you need - all the tools to do that right here and now.  And in fact, you're already making marks every day in every interaction you have.  Some are positive, and some are less so.  So work to make more positive marks than negative ones.

Don't delay. Take inspiration from Todd and pledge an act of kindness today. For ideas, check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. 500 Kindnesses is proof that each one of us can make a huge difference.
"Spotlight On" is a new monthly feature where I highlight an organization or person leading the way in making a difference, connecting or living mindfully.


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