2023 Resolution: Help to Repair the World
by Caleigh Rathmell Alevy, LMSW
With 2023 fast approaching, many of us find ourselves reflecting on the past year and resolving to change ourselves, our routines or the interests we will pursue in the New Year.
When we make New Year’s Resolutions, we often focus on changes we want to see within ourselves. But what if, instead, we focus on changes that include and help others ? Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world, is a Judaic tradition that gives us the opportunity to connect with others and help those in need. You don’t have to be Jewish to add the practice of Tikkun Olam to your routine, and it doesn’t necessarily require a lot of time or effort. As a bonus, Tikkun Olam opens a window for you to experience more happiness and overall wellness yourself!
Any of the following activities can help you incorporate more kindness into your routine: If you’re a numbers person, total up your points to keep track of your “hard work” and see why it “pays off.”
1. Smile at a stranger. Smiling is contagious. You may even discover a new friend in this simple act. (1 point for smiling, 5 points when it starts conversation)
2. Pick up trash. How many times have you walked past a bottle, candy bag, or aluminum can and mumbled negative comments because of your disgust? Try looking for the nearest trash can and throwing it away yourself. Trust me, pride exceeds misery! (1 point for each item, 2 points if someone witnesses you in action, and 5 points if that someone is a child!)
3. Send snail mail. Everyone loves the holidays because they receive family photo cards. Now imagine how fulfilling it would be to receive an unexpected greeting card saying hello! (1 point for a printed card, 3 points for a handwritten note).
4. Invite someone on a walk. You’ll create an opportunity for exercise and a social outlet at the same time; if you wonder why so many people are frequently seen out walking in pairs, give it a try and experience it for yourself! (1 point for completing this act with a friend, 5 points for walking with someone who you suspect needs more human interaction!)
5. Say thank you. We live in the South, so I expect this gesture is a given…but then again, it’s 2022 and it seems like a lot of kind gestures are nearly non-existent. It never hurts, as long as you mean it! (1 point for saying thank you, 5 points for teaching a child to say thank you, 10 points for saying thank you to someone who really doesn’t expect it, like perhaps your neighborhood garbage pick-up team).
6. Volunteer. Signing up for an organized volunteer opportunity guarantees that you’ll follow through and have the experience of helping others. CJFS’s Senior Grocery Initiative, a monthly opportunity to deliver food to one or more low-income older adults, is ONE opportunity to give back in greater Birmingham. To learn more about this, you can reach out to me at the contact information below. For more volunteer opportunities, check out your local United Way, Crisis Center, Literacy Council or Meals on Wheels organization
Whether you pursue one or more of these suggestions or think of your own, I welcome you to join me in celebrating 2023 by intentionally participating in Tikkun Olam. Kindness and gratitude often go hand in hand, all while leaving the world a better place for you and me and everybody in between.
Caleigh Rathmell Alevy, LMSW, is a Clinical and Outreach Social Worker for CJFS. Contact Caleigh at Caleigh@cjfsbham.org or 205-278-7101.