I try to pick up any litter I see along the road when I jog. This can be really disrupting especially when I find myself not running, but bending over ever so often to pick up trash every few steps instead. In times like this, I have to force myself to ignore the trash to continue my run. Other times, my hands are just too full from all the trash before I reach the next bin and I have to leave them behind. On my run, I rarely see like-minded people doing the same thing. Most of them are focussed on their run, oblivious of the trash. I can’t expect everyone to behave like me, thus I was pleasantly surprised to read in the papers recently about this jogger who runs at Selatar reservoir. This Head of Dept (HOD) in a school runs in gloved hands so that he can pick up any trash he sees along the way. (I pick up with bare hands so I have to consciously remind myself not to touch my face when I run. I know, very unhygienic right? The first thing I do after my jog is to run straight into the kopitiam toilet and gave my hands a good 17sec scrub.)
I am currently reading a book by Dr Richard Carlson, called Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff as part of my reading up on Happiness. In this book, he lists 100 ‘simple ways to keep the little things from taking over your life.’ Many of the suggestions I am already aware off, but the reminder is still useful. Things like #7 Don’t Interrupt Others or Finish Their Sentences; or #26 Set Aside Quiet Time, Every Day; or #37 Choose being kind over being right.
It must be a coincidence then when I came to #45 Develop Your Own Helping Rituals.
‘If you want your life to stand for peace and kindness, it’s helpful to do kind, peaceful things. One of my favourite ways to do this is by developing my own helping rituals. These little acts of kindness are opportunities to be of service and reminders of how good it feels to be kind and helpful.
A helping ritual that I practise regularly with my two children is picking up litter in our surrounding area. We’ve become so accustomed to doing this that my daughters will often say to me in animated voices, “There’s some litter, Daddy, stop the car!” And if we have time, we will often pull over and pick up. It may seem strange, but we actually enjoy it. We pick up litter in parks, on sidewalks, practically anywhere. Once I even saw a complete stranger picking up litter close to where we live. He smiled at me and said, “I saw you doing it, and it seemed like a good idea.”
Picking up litter is only one of the endless supply of possible helping rituals…Think of something that seems effortless yet helpful. It’s fun, personally rewarding, and sets a good example. Everyone wins.
Who would have thought a simple act like that can contribute to one’s happiness. Here, I want to acknowledge this woman called Michelle who goes around Hillview with a bag and a tong to pick litter intentionally, day or night, as long as she can squeeze out some time in her busy schedule. She is my inspiration and I hope yours too.