The rules are simple. By the end of each day write down just one kindness that you did for someone else. That’s it. Now watch the power unfold.
What is defined as a “chessed” (kindness)?
Any act that is done intentionally for the benefit of another without personal gain. A favor for someone else.
Some examples of chessed:
- Holding the door for the person behind you.
- Paying a toll for the driver behind you.
- Checking in on somebody who might be lonely.
- Starting an organization to help people in need.
- Participating in an organization that helps people in need.
- Giving tzedaka (charity) to somebody.
- Helping pay for a senior citizen to have corrective eye surgery. (Watch One Girl Miracle)
- Volunteering to read at a school.
Why does this work?
Lets do a quick exercise. Look around the room quickly. Good. Now look around the room and look for something blue. Why didn’t you notice all of the blue things before? Because you didn’t train yourself to look for them. Imagine if you trained yourself to look for diamonds and collect diamonds that were lying around all of the time. You would be the richest person on the planet. That’s what this program does. It retrains you to seek out and embrace acts of kindness a little bit each day.
Since the program is done daily for 40 days, it builds a habit.
What is the psychology behind the success of this program?
I used to think I was really nice until I realized I was fooling myself
“When I know that I have to write something down at the end of the day it changes my life. As the day wears on I start asking myself, ‘What did I actually do for someone today? How can I do a favor for someone?’ I always thought I was a really nice person until I started looking more closely.”
Couldn’t go to bed until I did a chessed
“Once at the end of the day when I sat down to write down the one chessed I did I said OMG. I can’t think any favors I did today. So I opened up my email and remembered that someone asked me to help out a family who couldn’t pay their mortgage. I wasn’t going to let myself go to bed until I did something that I could call a chessed”.
It used to be a hassle, now I embrace chessed
“Chessed used to be a hassle, but now I have more energy and I’m excited to do it. The Kindness A Day Journal has retrained me to gladly welcome the chance of doing a mitzva. Now when my friend asks me for a ride I say ‘Thank you so much for asking me. He just looks at me and smiles.’ I used to think I was too busy, but now I embrace the opportunities because I don’t want to end up at the end of the day with nothing to write down. It’s amazing. I feel better about my life and feel it’s worth living.”
Rolling ball of light
“I can’t believe the things I have accomplished once I started the Kindness A Day Journal. Before I started I never focused on one thing every single day. I jumped from one idea to the next but never made any profound changes. But now, I have literally transformed into a rolling ball of light. I have built things I’ve never done before because chessed is a priority for me”
I was fooling myself…now on way to being “World’s best Dad”
“Before I started the Kindness A Day Journal I thought I was a big ‘tzadik’ (righteous person) doing really nice things for my family. But now that I have clarity of what a chessed is – doing someone else a favor I’m not the same Dad. Not only am I helping my community more, I have really upped my game with my own family and they are loving it. Maybe I’ll earn the award The World’s Best Dad (at least for my kids since nobody can win that award).
Putting it in writing
“There is something profound about having to put it in writing. Doing chessed is great, talking about is nice. But having to put it in writing. Wow. Now that’s what seperates the men from the boys.”
If I write it down aren’t I being an egomaniac? Aren’t we supposed to be humble?
What’s your goal? If it’s just to make yourself look good you may need to tweak your approach. The purpose of the chessed challenge is to retrain yourself to become a person who embraces kindness and does favors for others with enthusiasm. By writing it down it changes who you are by making you prioritize chessed each and every day.
Does doing a chessed for my family count?
Well, it depends. The goal of the Chessed Challenge is to Stretch yourself and raise your consciousness, grow and build a world full acts of kindness. There are two ways of approaching this:
1. Count only the chessed that you do outside of the home. Rabbi Krohn feels that your family is simply an extension of yourself and it should be a given that you will do kindness for your family everyday! With this opinion, the Chessed Challenge should be focused on doing a noteable kindness for those outside of your immediate family.
2. Include your family. You see, your family is the most important relationship you have. If you are not already doing chessed with your family then you are missing the boat. Doing kindness for others and not giving to our families will shortchange those for whom we are most responsible. If this sounds familiar, consider including your family chessed in the Challenge then growing outwards.
Warning: Make sure that you do not use your family as “an easy out”. The goal of the Challenge is to transform yourself into a person who does acts of kindness in the world. When you look at your life you’ll know what to call a chessed.
Can I write down more than one chessed per day?
No. The idea is simplicity. Don’t start problems. Some days you’ll have done a dozen kindnesses then the next day only two: elation and then frustration. You may grow tired of writing and keeping track. The power of this program is it’s ease and consistency. If it gets hard, you’ll convince yourself its too difficult and you’ll be more likely to give up.
What if I skip a day doing an act of kindness?
If you truly didn’t do a memorable chessed for someone, then start counting again until you reach 40 days in a row.
What if I skip a day recording it in my Kindness A Day Journal?
You can write it in the following day.
What do I do when I finish 40 days?
Celebrate! Look back at what you have accomplished and realize how you have touched so many people. Consider how you have raised your awareness of looking for chessed opportunities. You should be an improved person and have reached a new level of being a giver.
Now you are ready for the next level of the Chessed Challenge: join the 6 month club. Commit to keeping your Kindness A Day Journal going for another 6 months. You’ll be more likely to develop the lifelong trait seeking chessed opportunities, thereby bringing more light into the world.