Realizing that we're two self-centered millennials, often focused on what’s ahead instead of what’s around us, we created a series of 12 steps as a way to become kinder, more empathetic people.
Based on 12-step programs designed to change behaviors, we took a vow to complete this 12-month resolution last January, one step per month. We’ve also designed the experiment so that others can participate too. It's sort of a modern day, non-religious way that any one can attempt to examine their lives and apathy and attempt to become kinder. There are many articles, books and beliefs on how to become kinder people, but how often do we really put these into practice? So we literally attempted to try many of the popular idioms.
Quick run through of each step:
Step 1: Can I Help You?
Can we gain any empathy or perspective by talking to strangers with different situations? We went out and asked New Yorkers one simple question: "How can we help you?"
Step 2: Open Your Eyes
Bystander apathy is a phenomenon prevalent in NYC. We hung missing people signs and sat next to them. Did anyone notice? What if we did the same thing with a dog?
Step 3: Switch it Up
There are always people who bother us and situations we try to avoid due to our selfishness. What if we had to do their job? Could we be kinder to them in the future?
Step 4: Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Jessie talks about mental health issues here and I talk about women's issues in the past. We all beat ourselves up for the way we've handled things in the past. We tried to forgive ourselves for these experiences by opening up about them.
Step 5: Forgive & Forget
I went in search for my biological father I've never met. We faced a very painful past experience with someone who hurt us deeply. Can we let go of the pain or misunderstanding we have? Can we gain compassion by confronting them?
Step 6: Face Yourself
Jessie confronts her fear of becoming a mother and I shave my head for my fear of going bald. Everyone has their own fears and insecurities and we often hide behind them by judging others. We took a major personal insecurity of ours and faced it head on.
Step 7: Kill Them With Kindness
They say the ultimate act of compassion is to learn to love your “enemies". We tried to better understand someone who we don’t get along with by doing something nice for them.
Step 8: Walk a Mile In Their Shoes
Jessie doesn't understand religion, so she went on an exploratory and participated in all kinds of practices: Catholicism, Buddhism, Scientology, etc. It’s easy to judge lifestyle decisions that we don’t like or understand. We participated in the liveliness of others as a way to learn more about them and their lifestyles.
Step 9: Go Big or Go Home
Tim drove home 8 hours on Thanksgiving to surprise his mother for dinner. Why do we always neglect the people who we are closest to? We picked one special person in our lives who we commonly neglect and did something nice for them.
Step 10: Pay it Forward
We left wallets all over NYC with money and a little note asking that the recipient do one kind thing with it. We also delivered random acts of kindness to people on the streets.
Step 11: Wear a Smile
For eight hours straight, we walked around NYC and smiled at every person we came across. Could we make them smile? Could we bring a moment of happiness to their life?
Step 12: Dive Deep
For this last step we're going to dive deep into what we've learned and try to do something much larger than ourselves. We’ll open this platform to start a dialogue with micro websites bases on some global issues happening.
Check out Tim and Jessie's 12 Kinds of Kindness Project