Promoting Passion Week 48: Find Your Compassion

Promoting Passion Week 48: Find Your Compassion

Here in America we are celebrating Thanksgiving this week. It has always been my favorite holiday, not for what it represents but for the kindness it can breed. I can get into any holiday that promotes kindness and generosity. Here at my house we don’t technically celebrate Thanksgiving, we celebrate ThanksLIVING.

When I was visiting a vegan restaurant in Phoenix we saw them promoting the idea of a cruelty-free holiday, and have fallen in love with the idea. I have been vegan for 2 1/2 years, and far more than it being a diet, it is a way of life. It is infused in every single decision I make, from how I treat animals to how I treat other people, to how the choices I make impact the world.

Given that this holiday is so much about compassion for me, I wanted to talk about ways that we can incorporate compassion, kindness and generosity into our lives this week.

1. Write a letter to someone you care about.

Gratitude. It reigns as king in a world where happiness is priority and everyone can benefit from a little loving. Send your thanks to someone with the written word. Let them keep those words close. Share your love.

Here is a video all about GRATITUDE and how important it is for HAPPINESS.

2. Sum up the 3 events in your life that are most meaningful to you.

Be grateful for the experiences you’ve had. Something wonderful can fuel more amazing experiences. Something terrible can change your way of viewing the world. Whatever your experience, focus on them and why they were so meaningful to you. Finding meaning in the past promotes a more meaningful future.

3. Name something you have done for yourself that has been a positive force in your life.

You are the life-force behind the decisions made in your life. Give yourself some credit for making choices and allowing your life to move forward. What is one thing you have done for yourself that was a change for the better?

4. Figure out one way to help a stranger.

Give someone a card. Give someone a hug. Hold a door for someone. Buy the person in front of you in line a drink. There are countless ways to help people, and whether they need it or not is not the question here. The fact is, you never know what a person is going through no matter how well-off they look, so show kindness to someone today.

5. With some extra money you have, buy someone a meal who needs it.

Especially around the holidays it is easy to see a separation between those who have and those who have not. Buy a meal for someone in need, or donate to your local food bank. It can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

6. Find an artist online and show them you appreciate their work.

Find a way to support an artist you love by giving them some kindness online. Heck, find anyone you think might need a few words of encouragement – someone who you think is doing something great – and share your kindness.

7. Buy a card for someone you love and mail it.

What is better than getting a card from someone and being reminded that someone is thinking of you? I love getting cards in the mail, though it happens very infrequently. Spend the $5 and mail a card, or make a card and send it out…it can cheer someone right up who just might need it.

8. Next time you find something frivolous that you want for yourself, use the exact amount it costs to buy something for someone else.

See a lamp you want, or a dress, or a sweater, or a hat…look at the amount, write it down, and use that amount you felt you could spare for yourself on someone else. It feels amazing.

9. Find someone you’ve lost touch with and let them know you’re thinking of them.

We all have friends we’ve lost track of over the years. Take a moment to contact one of them and let them know that you still think of them and wish them well.

10. Adopt a Turkey, Eat a Field Roast.

I am a passionate vegan, and I do my best not to talk too much about it on my blog. Why? Fear of people getting annoyed, I suppose. But what is so much more important to me is that we try our best to promote gentle and kind actions toward all living creatures and our environment. So this year, when you’re thinking about a big Thanksgiving dinner, I sincerely hope you’ll consider adopting a turkey instead of eating one. They are amazing creatures who deserve our love and compassion.

At Farm Sanctuary, you can adopt a turkey by spending $30 – the average amount a family would pay for a turkey for their meal. That money goes to the farm to continue the welfare of these animals. Instead of having turkey, which I know is a beloved family tradition, try out a field roast or an alternate form of meat. It will be entertaining, if nothing else. Or try a new centerpiece from whole foods – it could surprise you!

11. Check out the “Giving Back” page of my blog for ideas of how to donate your time to charities in need.


Did you know that the number one thing that can effect happiness is how grateful you are?

Gratitude, kindness, generosity, compassion…these are the things that give us a sense of fulfillment. These are the acts of service that truly make a difference in how we feel inside as well as how others feel as a result. The more we promote our passion, the more we can promote the passion of others. The more we love ourselves, the more we can love other people.

Everything begins within. The most radiant form of kindness starts inside and expands outward. Find your empathy today. Find your compassion. Be kind. Love wholly. Be present.

Happy ThanksLIVING, everyone. Thank you for being part of my passion and for sharing yours with the world.

Will you be putting any of these suggestions into action? Or do you have another idea of something kind to do?

Share how you plan on spreading the kindness in the comments, and I will randomly select one person to receive a costume from my collection.


49 thoughts on “Promoting Passion Week 48: Find Your Compassion

  1. Kindness to me is the way you live your life, I have tried to teach my children this. That every single day we live a life of kindness to ourselves, to each other, to those around us.

    We stop and say hello to people on the street, we smile at a stranger, we hold the door for the person behind or in front of us – we donate to charities.

    Over the holidays we step it up – coats go to programs to help children keep warm, we make sure to donate food to food banks, we give a little extra to the people we meet on the street who are less fortunate then ourselves and we always have time to stop and help someone, no matter how rushed our own lives become.

    It reminds me of the wall hanging my daughter insisted we buy for our home: “Grace isn’t a little prayer you say before receiving a meal. It’s a way to LIVE.”

    Happy Thanksliving to you Brooke –

    1. Hi Nora Sue!

      I think that is so amazing and special, the way you have raised your kids. So often those small, kind gestures are overlooked and it creates a world of coldness and distance. Thank you for being kind with your energy and time, that is very heartwarming to hear around these holidays! Wishing you and your family much happiness.

  2. What a wonderful video Brooke! I practice many of these things as well! Sadly, I love meet too much but I’m actually switching over to organic or I guess kosher meet. Anyways, a few weeks back I started to thing about someone that passed away in my life. My family fosters children and 3 or 4 years ago the case worker we worked with for 6 years was on her way with 3 children to a new home. A drunk driver crossed over into their lane and killed our caseworker and the 6 year old girl in the car. The other two older boys survived. I was trying to show someone the article when I ran across a charity that was in memory of the little girl. I didn’t know her, but I knew her caseworker and I wanted to do anything I could to help her memory. When I visit my home town soon, I’ll be sitting down with the owner of this organization and talk about donating my photography for their events or any other thing they need. Thank you so much for being an inspiration to not only artists, but other people as well. Everyone can learn to be a bit more compassionate!
    Here is the description of the charity “The Butterfly Ministry for Girls”

    A little girl came into our lives as a participant of an on-going program at a local library. There we help to teach history with the use of the American Girl historical doll series. She was a beautiful little girl with brown hair and eyes who loved butterflies. This little “butterfly girl,” as we called her touched our hearts and had a tremendous impact on our lives. She loved the American Girl dolls and the chance to interact with the characters and their American history stories, yet she never had the chance to have one of her very own.

    In March 2011, our little butterfly died in an automobile accident. As leaders of the program, we decided to start a non-profit organization in her memory to give American Girl dolls to other children in need.

    Our Ministry is based on the belief that children, especially little girls are of the utmost importance.

    It is the mission of The Butterfly Ministry for girls to show comfort and love during what could be a difficult transition in young girls’ lives.

    This Ministry is offered as a service to our community and in hopes that using a doll will touch lives. We further offer this ministry to show these young ladies that someone cares.

    1. Hi Samantha!

      Wow thank you so much for sharing that story – how incredibly heartbreaking. It is nice to hear that a beautiful organization has arisen. With your permission I will happily add this charity to the list in the “Giving Back” portion of this blog – do you have a link where people can donate? Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  3. Random acts of Kindness, paying it forward or the Christmas Angel tree, are what most people think about during this time of year. My family gives to others all year long by volunteering our time to the many different organizations in our area it could be at a soup kitchen, a retirement community, woman’s and children shelter and even different animal sanctuaries. There is not a weekend that goes by that we are not doing something for our community. As a family we talk about who needs help and what can we give them. We do not throw away clothing that do not fit any longer, we find a new home for them. Most people will give their items to goodwill, but we find a woman’s and children shelter to give them to as they have a need for those items now. I remember when my daughter was going from a crib to a bed, I called the local shelter and they came immediately to my house to pick it up, they had an urgent need and were going directly to a family that could use everything that I had. It is so satisfying knowing that we were able to help a family.

    As you mention, there are so many ways to give to others that need help. Give your time, find a shelter in need give your items to them, give your to go bag to the man on the street corner looking for food, you don’t have to think that giving to someone you have to give money to them.

    So, this time of year when you are out shopping for gifts for your family, ask yourself do they really need this or should I give them something a little less expensive and buy a gift for the Christmas Angel tree. Donate your time to a shelter or organization that needs help. Make it something you do all the time not just once a year. The feelings you feel by doing that will far surpass the feelings you get watching family open the gifts under the tree.

    1. Hi Christine!

      You are so right! This is the time of year when we think about giving back, but there is no reason why it shouldn’t be all year round! There are always people in need and we are always capable of helping. Thank you for that reminder, and it is so wonderful to know that you and your family are out there supporting and giving to those in need! You are an inspiration to me!

  4. I love this post Brooke!! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! =)
    I wanted to share something that I do every year, this was my 4th year, that I do for others but it also has been a huge positive force in my life. On June 5th 2011 my Mom passed away from a brain tumour, this was devastating for me and my family. I felt helpless at the time, there was nothing anyone could do. My Mom was my biggest supporter including my photography so I wanted to do something to honour her memory, give back while using my talent. I decide Oct of that year that I would do Fundraising Mini Sessions and I would donate all of the proceeds to The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada in my Mom’s memory. I also wanted to make them super affordable for everyone, I always book up every year for them, and not only do I get to raise and donate to a cause that means so much to me, I have heard from so many families about how they couldn’t afford family pictures and these ones they could and they were beyond grateful for that. I look forward to these every year, they make me so happy, I feel like I am helping more than just raising money for research but also helping capture families memories too. I have raised just shy of $6000 in 4 years that I have donated and it is something that I am so incredibly proud of.
    I have been teaching my two young boys how important it is to give back, to be kind to others. We are always sending cards out, which they love to do and love to get them as well. They have donated their toys to other children, we have donated clothes to families that need them, we try to do what we can to help as much as possible.
    Thank you so much for the blog post, it inspires me to do even more! =)

    1. Hi Nikki!

      I am so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing – that you were able to turn that into a way of giving back in inspirational and so motivating to me. Thank you for sharing that! And wow! $6,000!! That is incredible. It is really lovely that you could find a silver lining in something so painful. Thank you for all that you do!

  5. Perfect timing on this post Brooke! I’ve been sending blank greeting cards to people that contact me about my art. It’s so fun for me to give something I created to someone else with no expectations…just love!

    I love your idea of contacting someone you have lost touch with. I’m going to do that too.

    After taking your course on CreativeLive, I (and my hubby) decided that for a Thanksliving retreat:-) we would go photograph wild horses. Wild horses are brutally rounded up in the west and held in horrible conditions in feed-lots. I want show their grace, freedom and beauty in the wild. I can’t wait! For me being out in the natural world with appreciate of all things wild is a way to embrace thankfulness.

    1. Hi Marcy!

      Oh that is so lovely! Sending greeting cards to those who show kindness is a really great thing to do – something I will definitely take into consideration for myself! How amazing that you’re going to help the horses. I was recently in NYC and walked into a storage facility for the horses who pull carriages and felt compelled to do something to help, just not sure what yet. Thank you for giving so much!

  6. Honestly Brooke! I needed this reminder! I have found with my new occupation that I’ve become a more negative person although I always try to look on the bright side- my bright side has been looking a little dull. My photography is suffering from this as well. I almost want to tattoo a positive note on my hand as a constant reminder because as humans we all feed off of each other- & if a smile can make a difference, a kind gesture can make a persons day and then hopefully the ripple effect will begin. Thank thank thank you!! The ripples begin

    1. Hi Tracy!

      Yes! That ripple effect is the neatest thing to watch happen. I just wish I could say I’m better at starting it. So often I retreat into my shy place. I hope that you will be able to find the brightness in your life more regularly. That tattoo sounds like a lovely idea. That is why I have a phrase written on my arm, as a reminder: “Fear is the mind killer.” It helps me remember my strength. Sending you so much happiness!

  7. I have never done it but would love to setup somewhere and give free photo shoots to family’s that can’t afford it. It would be a great way to give back to those in need using my photography.

  8. I have never done it but would love to setup somewhere and give free photo shoots to family’s that can’t afford it. It would be a great way to give back to those in need using my photography.

    Mis-typed my name in the original, you think of all the things to mis-type my own name wouldn’t be one of them lol

    1. Ooh and you might consider looking into Help Portrait, listed in the Giving Back section here – awesome charity that basically does just that!

  9. You are so inspiring! I just recently had the pleasure of finding you via Creative Live (last week) and not only love your art but your spirit. Your love, compassion and giving spirit just shine through. Thank you for posting this message. Over the years I have thought about and wanted to do some volunteer work but there was always an excuse that I did not have enough time. Such a selfish thing to say I know. We have always donated $ to various charities throughout the year and for many years now have sponsored a child through the ChildFund organization. However, this year my husband and I made a decision to have me leave my full-time job to focus on my health, well-being, family (have 2 teenage boys) and my passion of photography. So now, more than ever I want to give back and volunteer somewhere. Your message here today has spurred me to research options in my community and get serious about it!

    Thank you Brooke and happy ThanksLIVING!

    1. Hi Candy!

      Thank you for the kind words! I am so glad that you’ll be looking into ways of giving back, but I also think that you should give yourself more credit! It sounds like you really are doing your part to give back and help others in need! I think that is wonderful!

  10. I try to live kindly and always intentionally try to compliment people and smile at them (especially at work). I work in a factory & it can be a pretty tough job as far as being physical & the emotional aspect (you can be written up & fired for human errors at any point). You’d be surprised at how much a compliment can change someone’s day! When my youngest daughter was small she made a comment that always stuck with me. She said that if she smiled or waved at people they always waved/smiled back so she made sure to always wave and smile at people passing her when we went out. She must’ve been about 3 at the time. Out of the mouth of babes, huh?

    1. Aww Tina that is so cute about your daughter! Seriously though, children are so perceptive and wise! I love that you make your co-workers feel good. It is so important to let those around you know that they are being thought of 🙂

  11. But you are so good at starting it! Promoting passion- hello! Lol and you may be shy but by all the things you do and how you present yourself (that I’ve seen from creative live and FB posts.) your not THAT shy. 🙂 But we do all have our comfortable hermit zones. I know I sure do!
    But again- thank you so much for the reminder. I hear people daily thank others for whatever and comment on something – all positive and I always think I need to start putting that into action already. So here you are- knocking on my door saying “isn’t it about time?” Lol!!
    Happy ThanksLiving. 🙂

    1. Aww thanks Tracy! Somehow I think in a blog post or on Facebook it is easy to be myself, but when I get face to face with someone I don’t know, I tend to freeze up. Something I am definitely working on!

  12. Hey Brooke! There are so many things that I would like to do this holiday season. One being fighting for the environment. There is a beautiful forest that is right behind my house and the county wanted to tear it all down and build houses, I am starting potation at school to stop them, I dont know if it will work but it is worth a try! I really want to volunteer at a soup kitchen instead of having a Thanksgiving dinner. Something that I really want to do, (that you have inspired me to do) is hold a workshop for children who are having trouble in school, school is really not my thing and I luckily found my passion in photography, but many of my friends dont know what their passion is and they feel so lost, so I would love to hold a class on finding and activating your passion. I of course will keep donating my clothes to goodwill and donate food, and I really want to look into all of the suggestions you have made, I love the adopt a turkey idea! I love helping animals, I bought my cat from a kill shelter and I would love to find another way to help those animals that are in danger. Thank you so much for giving to those in need and helping me conduct my passion! You are amazing Brooke!

    1. Hi Sabrina!

      I love all of these amazing things you are doing! Workshops sound incredible, and what a great way to show kids that they are smart and worth hearing. Definitely give that soup kitchen a try! I wish I had thought to do that this year! Gah! Keep up the amazingness!

  13. I am also vegan Brooke! This holiday season I have decided to give back by baking batches of vegan mexican snickerdoodles and delivering them to the homeless here in Austin. I practice compassion on a daily basis and spread kindness wherever I go. I teach my children the same values and they have become to get involved in helping our homeless community here in Austin! They even ask me to stop the car so they can give them a few dollars whenever they have it. That makes a mama proud!
    I commend you for making this post and trying to spread awareness. I try to do the same and find most people ignore me. But I keep trying! I hope you are able to reach at least one person. Do not let the negative feedback get to you. You’re doing amazing things!

  14. Greetings from Denmark, and happy thanksliving to you and your loved ones.

    I especially enjoy the small joys in life … Like a smile or laughter.
    I love to smile at people I meet on the street, to see their faces and eyes light up and smile back to me. I know that the happy feeling I get when I meet a smile is exactly the same feeling I bring them with my smile.
    So I continue to smile to my fellowmen, and are forever grateful for the small and simple joys we can give each other in life
    So I send you one of my biggest smile across the Atlantic, and although you can not see it, I hope you feel it.

    With love Gitte

  15. Hi, i`m 38 and from germany. At first i wanna thank you very much, that you share your creativity and inspiration with everyone! I discovered the fotography for a few month for me. But i didn`t know how i could realize my ideas. I saw you last week at creative live, and it was a eye-opening expirience! Now i got a good way to realize MY ideas and show it with my kind of creativity.

    My dearest give-back is a simple smile to old or homeless people. That someone they notice seems to surprise them and make them happy. And i love to share information and knowledge to my friends. I had to learn so many things the hard way. And when my experiences can help other people, so it was not in vain.

    And the stinky-thing… I always thougth stinky is something that we smell… to see stinky people seems to be a new gift 😉

  16. I love your ideas so much & I really do try my best to incorporate these things into my everyday life, like helping strangers. Holding doors open, letting someone into traffic when they’re stuck, giving meals to those in need are all things that I try my best to keep up with even after the holiday seasons have passed & it’s incredible at how much positive energy has found its way into my life. You’re a huge inspiration to me, not only through photography, but through your compassion and love for life. <3

  17. Such a wonderful video Brooke! First off I’d like to take your advice and say: Thank you! 🙂 I admire your work so much you have truly been an inspiration and I cannot wait to see the wonders that you do in the future. My parents have always told me when I was young that I had such a loving soul and that all I do is love and give. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that my kindness was taken as weakness and have gotten hurt numerous of times in the process of my self discovery. So I am now in the process of taking back my loving side and trying to open up to other day by day and little by little.

    I know it can sometimes be very scary and vulnerable to give and to love but I am taking baby steps. I call or text my family frequently to tell them how much I love them and grateful to have them. I try and make sure my boyfriend knows how much I appreciate his presence even when we are not doing anything productive (i.e. vegging out in front of the TV with him right next to me). What I am going to invest on doing is volunteering my services to charity. I’ve always wanted to try and give back to my community and I think now is the best time to do so 🙂 Thanks for the advice Brooke, don’t stop working and shining that beautiful light & have a Happy Thanksliving Day <3

  18. I love this post! We practice “Random Acts of Kindness” all year around. Some of my favorites random acts may seem small but I know the impact is great. They include the following:

    1. Grocery shopping early in the day and helping the elderly shoppers with their shopping.

    2. Sending cards to people. I think it is always nice to get a hand written note from someone saying, “you have value. I appreciate you and you have impact”.

    3. Whenever I shop I always let one or two people go ahead of me in line.

    4. Leaving 5 dollar bills plus with a note of encouragement in random library books for strangers to find.

    5. I always make it a point to thank and acknowledge people whom work so hard at thankless jobs (i.e. janitors, the people who clean public restrooms…)

    My intent in practicing these acts of kindness is to give to other but I am not blind to the fact that I also benefit when my heart is focused on making someone’s day a little brighter. 🙂

  19. Dear Brooke,
    What a wonderful way to encourage people to be, do,& live more I am trying to pursue my dream of being a photographer. And can only hope & wish that I can be as well respected, adored, & sought after of a photographer as you are someday. However I doubt that I will ever be able to get to achieving my dream. I’m MoMMy to 3 young, sweet, boys who have Autism Spectrum Disorders and Anxiety Disorders & they need alot of special care & special attention all day everyday. They are 13yrs, 4yrs,& 18months. They all 3 recieve 2-3 different kinds of therapies every single week. So they keep me busy, LoL. But every chance I get I’m taking photo’s. But that’s way too much talk about me, I’m so sorry.
    But now I really want to talk about kindness, there are alot of little ways that I try to teach my 3 boys to be kind. I try to teach them to be kind to people of every sex, race, religion, age, body type, etc…& also to be kind to all animals as well.
    Throughoug the year we are extremely busy with all of the boys’s therapy. I mean I offer to help carry older men & womens groceries to their cars for them at the grocery store. And we hold doors for people. We also donate all of our clothes that are too small for us to my church.
    But because we wish we could do more than that for people. We choose to go out around the holidays when the boys have off from their therapy to try to. So around the holidays is when we like to really try to make up for not being able to do as much kindness that we’d like to during the rest of the year.
    We like to bake cookies & then just drive around until my sons see people on the street that they want to give a bowl of cokies to, then just give it to them & wish them Happy Holidays.
    And another thing we do is we get permission to go to our local YWCA & take gifts & X-mas cookies to the women & children there who live there trying to get out & away from abusive relationships. So we ask everyone we know if they could please help & donate either a $10-$20 toy or any amount of money at all (then we use the money to buy toys). Then me, my boyfriend, our 3 autistic sons, & my MoM all get dressed up in X-mas costumes & go to the YWCA. Its always so nice because those are the only gifts those children get for X-mas. And my poor boys make such an effort to try to make the other kids happy. They get dressed up in X-mas costumes even though it physically hurts them. They say they want to do it, they push thru it. Now as soon as we step into the elevator to leave they start taking their costumes off right away, LoL. But I’m so proud of them! They put themselves into uncomfortable situations just to make other kids happy, amongst several other things they do to help people & animals.
    Well I could keep going on, but I’ve already taken up so much of your time & blog space,LoL.
    Okay, I’m Sending out Lotsa Love & BiG HuGs to ALL of you! Goodbye & I hope that everyone has a very Happy ThanksLIVING! 🙂
    BIG XXX’s, ~ Kristina McGowan ~

  20. Brooke, You are such an inspiration to so many people. I may not be a big writer and either good in english.
    The idea of thanksliving is really great! I am a cancer surviver and recently i had an exhibition, half of all many from art sell was donated to steamcell reaserch around 1000 $. I am not reach or famous but i do give as much as i can and whenever i can. The feeling of making random people happy is amazing and i will keep doing it. Life is for living. Hugs!

  21. this is so beautiful and inspiring! I think that this is one of your best promoting passions because of how it tackles something that effects everyone from within and can be helpful to not only photographers but all kinds of people! I think i might try to start doing all these points! I think i will try sending cards to people, especially my old friends that i don’t see anymore! They’ve really helped me get to where i am now and i thinking something as simple as that will show that in a really beautiful way! I also will try to start being more giving and compassionate to others as i know i will be helping others and my positivity will reciprocate with them! I don’t want to be surrounded by negativity, so i think making little life changes can help massively and these are some amazing ones that will take me far! Donating to charities is something I’ve always been keen to do, but its difficult to help out when a kid so now that I’ve matured, i think I’m ready to help certain charities that are personal to me, I’ve already looked though your ‘giving back’ page and am amazed at how many photography-related charities there are out there. Im still in love with your school of photography that helps people that have been through human trafficking; its so kind of you to do something like that and i so respect that about you! Not to sure about going vegan though! Id love to but i don’t think I’m strong enough yet to go without a bigmac! ;D P.S, loving how passionate you are about this and hope you enjoy your field roast at your family thanksliving! 😀

  22. Dear Brooke,
    This is one of my favorite posts. First of all, I want to express my gratitude to you. Your kindness and passion shines through and you have done more for me than you could imagine. I wrote to you about a year, year and a half ago and I shared one of my pictures with you. You were so compassionate and nonjudgemental but most of all, youwere so encouraging. I do hope we meet in person one day. (Don’t be alarmed if I give you a big hug when that happens lol)

    We try to help out other people when we can, despite our limited funds. This year, we are opening our homes to friends of ours who are in the middle of moving. And I try to send out handwritten cards every year with special holiday pictures. The holidays can be hectic and people are generally in a bad mood when shopping, but I always make it a point to smile at the cashiers and say thank you, especially when they have dealt with angry customers all day. It’s not much, but we try to do a little bit here and there…it’s amazing how a few simple kind words can change someone’s entire day.

    Happy ThanksLIVING Brooke
    Have an amazing rest of the day. 🙂

  23. Hello Brooke! Here I am, once again, with all the pleasure and rejoicing … I say this because in fact is what I feel when I read your posts like this. Beautiful! In a way, I practice these steps. Some more than others, I say! Especially the items 1,3,5,7,11. Sometimes, I write, not letters, but e-mails, to those who I love and respect. Many of them have helped me a lot, at some point less good in my life. Even, if I have been with this person a few hours before, sometimes, I send an email with only one sentence, such as: “With a friend like you, the difficulties of life, not weigh so much. Thank you.” One of the things I did and that improved my welfare was start running. I improved a lot physically and mentally. Running showed me that I can do things that before I did not believe I could. Usually when a homeless asking for money on the street, I never give, I always ask if he or she has hungry and paid on the market a liter of milk, 2-3 breads… Money, I never give. I don’t know if is for drink or drugs! On International Women’s Day this year, I gave to my co-workers a bunch of flowers and a card with a dedication to them. That’s how I am! 🙂 And this year, also donated to that cause of ASL, but not only. Here in Portugal, there was a controversy with buckets of water, because many were against this idea, due to be many people with no drop of water to drink. I realized the challenge with the bucket, but I also donated to an association, which takes water to those who have not. We have an association called food bank, which twice a year, the Portuguese, like me, donate food to this bank and per year, the food bank vault is filled with 6-7 tons of food. Then, this association distributes this food by other associations that help unemployed, homeless … Upss! Sorry for the long text, but I enthused me at write it. 😀 I end up saying that I’ll get these your 11 items and I will put into practice this week. Have a nice week, and happy thanksliving Brooke.

  24. Hi Brook! Thank you so much for writing this blog post, it has filled me with good feelings that I want to share with the world. 2 months ago I went vegan and I can already feel the compassion pouring out of me for all living creatures (people included!). I decided to adopt a turkey (Gable) and I will continue to incorporate more grateful actions into my daily life.
    Happy thanksliving!

  25. HiBrooke!

    First of all I want to say that I already miss you after last weeks creativelive classes.

    Second i really love the popping colours in the butterfly pictures of this page!

    For this blogpost i wanted to share a story with you. When I was around 15 years old, someone told me she thought I was crazy because I smiled at random strangers on the street. Untill then I thought everyone smiled at everyone, just to say “hello, have a good day.” Unfortunately, that’s not true. But I still think that a single smile or a single good morning can change someones day into a pretty good day 🙂 so I still try to be as friendly as I can.

    I love your thing about the letter 🙂 I’m teying to let people know how important they are but I know such things are hard to remember. Receiving a letter from someone is a wonderful feeling, just because they are so rare nowadays. But i still love them even thought i grew up in world with emails and facebook.Everytime i get a letter or card from someone with a special message, i keep it in a box 🙂 it’s lovely to read them after a few years.

    I try to do a lot of small things, like making time for someone and letting them know they are special and they deserve all the best. Last summer I did a volunteering camp in Croatia, but i have the feeling that they learned me more then that I helped them. If you find some time you can look there project up, it’s called ‘suncokret centre for community development and kids earth fund croatia’. It’s a wonderful and lovely community.

    I would love to celebrate thanksgiving here, but I live in Belgium so we don’t celebrate it. It seems like a lovely and meaningful holiday, but i think we need to give thanks everyday.

    Thank you Brooke, for sharing your passion, love and smile.

  26. Honestly, in my case the best way for me to be more generous and kind is to give some of my time to others, specially my loved ones. Sometimes I’m too caught up in my own things that when my family or a friend ask me about something that I have to devote time to, I just ignore them. I feel so bad so that’s the main thing I’m going to do, dedicate time to others and offer my help no matter what I’m doing because at the end I do not regret it at all.

    That was a great list, I’m definitely going to do some of them. I’d love to be vegan, some day.

  27. This is something dear to me, possibly as my dad was selfless to the point he put everyone before himself, I guess it rubbed off.
    I am not going to pretend that I know much about thanksgiving/LIVING, being from over the pond, it is not something we celebrate, I do however wish we didn’t have to wait for a holiday period like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or whatever, to show greater than usual kindness.
    I will wander through the questions and then share a story from the past.
    1. Write a letter to someone you care about.
    I am not very good at this (honesty) unless emails count.

    2. Sum up the 3 events in your life that are most meaningful to you.
    I am mostly uncomfortable with this, as these things often involve other people and there are many meaningful moments, not just three and it would be unfair to those that happened not to get a mention.

    3. Name something you have done for yourself that has been a positive force in your life.
    In 1977 I discovered that a camera can draw better than I can and can tell a story that says something different to different people.

    4. Figure out one way to help a stranger.
    I bought a homeless guy a meal.

    5. With some extra money you have, buy someone a meal who needs it.
    See #4

    6. Find an artist online and show them you appreciate their work.
    I have and I am right here, right now, you have a wonderfully creative mind and appreciate your art more than mere words can express.

    7. Buy a card for someone you love and mail it.
    I am not very good at this either, ecards count though right?

    8. Next time you find something frivolous that you want for yourself, use the exact amount it costs to buy something for someone else.
    I generally don’t, material positions mean little to me apart from a photographic stuff.
    I gave someone a DSLR and lens when I upgraded.

    9. Find someone you’ve lost touch with and let them know you’re thinking of them.
    I am beginning to see a pattern, however I did contact an old friend on Facebook.

    10.Adopt a Turkey, Eat a Field Roast.
    An old family friend runs a donkey sanctuary, I adopted a donkey, I also take part in an adopt a Dolphin scheme, that helps reintroduce injured/sick Dolphins back into the wild.

    11. Check out the “Giving Back” page of my blog for ideas of how to donate your time to charities in need.
    I will, though I do a bit here and there already.

    The (rather shortened) story,
    On June 13 1985 I sat in all day and watched the Live Aid concerts from the UK and US, and all the moving footage and reporting, it hit a nerve.
    In 1986, the country was in a pretty deep recession and I could not find any work, whilst looking for jobs I saw an advert in the paper seeking volunteers to go to Africa and help with the Live Aid appeal, they were mostly looking for people with some medical knowledge, I had none, but I applied anyway and just said I am young and fit and would like to do something worthwhile that would help.
    I was accepted and off I went, young and naive yet bold, what I experienced was horrific, yet as bad as it was, it was also wonderful to make a difference by doing relatively very little, it was both one of the worst and best experiences of my life, I went back for a second time.
    Many people will never know what it is like to really have nothing, and I mean nothing at all and the joy that it brings to do something that is really very little.
    Those of us that went, made a difference to so many people.

    If I happen to be the random one (well I am that) and as much as I’d be honoured to own a keepsake outfit, it wouldn’t fit me anyway so it would be a waste, so please sell/auction/donate it to help someone that really needs it.

  28. I have been opting to listen to my inner voice daily on WHO to send encouraging letters to. Sometimes I have a name instantly…and sometimes i’m talking to a friend…realizing the depths of despair…and i stop right then and there and give them HUGE words of encouragement. We all want and need love. So lets BE IT <3 🙂 Thanks for all your words!

  29. It might sounds silly but.. HUGS. I love giving hugs and I really do think that hugs make everything a little better.
    I try to be kind to everyone all the time, whether it’s holding the door for someone or paying for someone else’s meal. I think it’s the little things that make a difference.


  30. I love this Brooke, it warms my heart. I have been upset for a long time about people’s lack of compassion and empathy. But this made me realize that the only thing I can do is to spread some love and gratitude myself and maybe someone will follow. Who am I to judge another person (maybe I am just as bad myself although I hope not), maybe they are struggling and the only way for them to feel better is to put others down. That is really sad when I think about it. To show someone love I will donate all the clothes from when my daughter was younger that I was planning to sell to make some money (a few bags laying around the house). And today I am very grateful for the comment that my 11-year old daughter made yesterday: “Mom, I thought about what you said, maybe my friend Lisa is not that nice because she feels bad about something. So I told my friend Mary that we should be nice to her instead of being angry”. It is so important to teach the kids compassion, to talk to them about those things. Have a happy thanksliving, I love the concept.

  31. Hi – I was reading your list and thought, “Yes! I just found someone who inspires me!” I teach photography in Canada at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design and want to show your work to my students. I think our library could use your books, too. I appreciate what you do. Thank you!

  32. My way to give back somehow is with a cat shelter. They often post pictures they take with their phone to introduce cats in need of a new home, but the pictures are not always the best. So I offered to go there and take pictures of the kitties trying to really bring their cuteness and what makes each of them special and have the pictures have a more “professional” finish so that it will maybe (hopefully) help catch the attention of adoptive parents. 🙂

  33. I take my kids out a few times a year for a “day of kindness” where we do little random acts of kindness for people. Somtimes, it’s handing out homemade lunches to the homeless. Sometimes, it’s delivering surprise cookies and treats to friends at their homes or workplaces. We have bought lunch for a military family who was dining at the table next to us. We’ve donated to the local animal shelter, left money at vending machines, and, whenever I can spare it, we buy coffee for people in line behind us. We’re planning our next day of kindness the second week of December, and I look forward to spreading the kindness and generosity while sharing that with my kids.

  34. This year, my children agreed to give up a Christmas present for themselves and buy one for a needy child. Last night we went shopping and each of them picked out something that was on a child’s request list. We spent a lot of time talking about how lucky we are to be able to buy presents and how some children aren’t so lucky. And we discussed how the parents of these children would feel knowing that they had a gift to give. They were happy to share the love.

    Each day I give thanks for the gifts that I have and hope that in some small way I can positively encourage others.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Brooke. And to all you amazing readers out there! 😀

  35. Thank you for your love,Brooke! I love the idea about writing a card..I think I’m gonna write it to my very good friend and give it along with a christmas present:) <3 …

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