The Kindness Challenge is the current Wholee Healthy challenge for the month of September. The challenge is to incorporate purposeful kindness into our daily lives. The goal? To make purposeful kindness a more natural behavior and part of our lives. I hope those of you taking on this challenge with me are feeling fulfilled, touching others’ lives, and making a difference. It doesn’t have to be huge gestures, but it is often the small, quiet, purposeful words or actions that can make the biggest impact on someone. You never know where a person is coming from or what they may be going through!
Today, I want to explore the 5 Love Languages. For those of you who are not familiar with the 5 Love Languages, they originated from a book by Gary Chapman. The idea behind the Love Languages is that each person has a different way in which they naturally prefer to receive affection. I’ll outline a scenario to explain how the Love Languages work: A wife likes to hear words of appreciation or love, but her husband tends show love by doing chores and household tasks and doesn’t express to his wife how he feel with words. The wife is going to feel cared for but not necessarily loved in the way she wants to be. We oftentimes also tend to express love in the same way we prefer to receive it. So, in the same scenario, the wife may express her love to her husband through words, but he may feel loved but not in the way that is most fulfilling because he likes to receive love best through gestures and assistance with tasks. In this scenario, both the husband and wife are trying to show love, but neither are getting love in the way that they most prefer to receive it. The idea behind the Love Languages is not just to find out how you most like to receive affection, but also how to show affection to others in the way that they best like to receive it.
Now this can be applied to a significant other, children, family, friends, teammates, or even coworkers! Knowing the way in which others prefer to receive affection and/or appreciation can make a huge difference in how you reach out to them and the impact you can make on them! Now, it can be hard to decipher what a person’s Love Language is. You can take the quiz: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ and have others close to you take it as well! It is a short, fun quiz and helps you find out how to reach a person best. For the other people in your life you are less acquainted with, you can simply ask them what you can do for them. Or, if you really like the idea of Love Languages, ask your employer if you can send out the quiz to coworkers and ask for their results; then, you’ll know how to reach everyone at your workplace as well! We did this at a school I was teaching at and also shared our favorite treats/gifts. It was a great way to reach out to coworkers and make them feel appreciated! Even if you don’t know a person’s Love Language, this post is full of small, meaningful tasks you can perform daily for those around you to bring their spirits up and make them feel loved.
The 5 Love Languages include: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Acts of Service, and Receiving Gifts. They are all pretty straight forward as far as what they mean, but let’s explore a few examples of each of them to get a better idea on how we can reach out to those in our lives to truly make them feel appreciated and loved.
Words of Affirmation is my personal Love Language. I love hearing words of encouragement, appreciation, and love from those around me. When I was teaching, hearing that I had a fun lesson from kids or coworkers was a great motivator for me! I also love hearing a word of appreciation or love from my husband at home. What are some ways that you can apply these to those closest to you? For a significant other, this might be voicing your appreciation when you see them doing chores at home, when they have been putting in extra time to complete a hard project at work, or just out of the blue as a reminder that you appreciate all they are to you in life. For other family, it might be voicing your appreciation for good advice they gave, telling them specific qualities they have that you enjoy and that make you better, or leaving a note for them somewhere about how much they mean to you. For co-workers or friends, it could be a compliment, appreciative note, or staff-wide email outlining the hard work that you saw a co-worker put in. There are so many simple ways that you can utilize Words of Affirmation, and they can be written or spoken! Words are powerful, and using them in a positive, appreciative way can have a strong impact on those around you.
The second Love Language is Physical Touch. This is a Love Language that is mostly reserved for those closest to us, but can be extended to those that are more of acquaintances as well. For instance, a coworker that is having a really tough day may just need a shoulder squeeze, small touch on the arm, or even a hug if you are closer. If it’s someone that is a closer friend or family member, hug away! Give hand squeezes, pats, and back rubs as well. Physical Touch can be healing and is actually proven to relax and improve the overall health and wellbeing of newborn babies. It is something that we are designed to appreciate. We use it in both tough moments and in celebrations, as goodbyes and hellos, and of course just because. Always use caution with people you are not familiar with because some people definitely do not appreciate physical touch. It can be downright awkward to get a hug from a “huggy” stranger that you aren’t very close to! But, for those you know well, it can be a great way to help them feel safe, loved, and/or reassured.
Quality Time is a Love Language that can seem hard to give if your life is busy and hectic; however, Quality Time together means the world to some people. For those that are closest to us, Quality Time might be taking our kids to the zoo, a significant other out on a date, or a friend out to coffee. The ways we can spend time together are almost endless, and simply hanging out together is usually enough for those who need Quality Time to feel appreciated. Giving of your time makes them feel worthwhile and like they have a special place in your life because you purposely set aside the time to nurture your relationship. For a coworker, Quality Time may mean you spend the time to help them with a new computer system, stay late to work on a project together, or pop in their office to discuss something in person rather than email. These gestures show that you are willing to sacrifice some of your work time to assist them, and it makes them feel supported and appreciated as well. Quality Time can seem hard to fit in; however, after you do spend time with someone, you usually walk away feeling fulfilled as well.
Acts of Service is the next Love Language. Acts of Service can be anything from emptying the dishwasher to washing the cars to taking the garbage out. It is not necessarily the most romantic of the Love Languages, but it is one that can leave a person feeling relieved, supported, and rejuvenated. Can you think of a time when you had a lot on your plate and were stressing about what to make for dinner and came home to a meal already prepared for you? Maybe it was a cold winter morning and you walked out to your car to find it already scraped off and warmed up for you. Have you heard, the four secret words that every woman wants to hear? “I cleaned the house.” Amen to that! Life is full of tedious tasks that can sometimes be enough to put us over the top. Whatever the scenario might be that comes to mind, I’m sure you can remember the smile that came to your face, and the instant feeling of relief, joy, and appreciation. For coworkers, it might mean taking their recess duty, their inventory night, or covering a shift for them. For those closer to us, Acts of Service is helping with the everyday things to help life run more smoothly. Clean your child’s room, make your husband/wife his/her favorite dinner, fix your dad’s phone, or watch your friend’s dog while they are on vacation. These acts lighten the load for those around us, turn a mood around, and can even drastically change a day.
The final Love Language is Receiving Gifts. Gifts can encompass a great range of things from an engagement ring to simply passing along a book you enjoyed. It can be a grand gesture or a simple item that signifies you were thinking of another. In your work life, this may be getting an extra coffee for a coworker in the morning, leaving them their favorite chocolate on their desk, or getting them a gift card to a restaurant after they had a rough week and need a night out. For your close friends and family, this could be sending them flowers just because, surprising them with an item of clothing they said they loved when you were shopping with them the other day, or just bringing them back a small memento from a trip you were on to show you were thinking of them. Receiving Gifts is often more about the gesture than the actual gift; however, making it personal and making it something you know they would like is key to making it meaningful as well. If you get your husband a frying pan so he cooks more, or your wife a planner because you hate that she is perpetually late, this is not the point! Think of what they enjoy and listen to different things they mention in conversation. These are the things that will make them feel most appreciated, loved, and cared for.
As I mentioned at the start, whether or not you know a person’s Love Language, you can still reach out in different, simple ways to those around you in life. That is what the Kindness Challenge is all about. Life is about more than going through our day to day routines, bettering our careers, or meeting a deadline. The people around us are our community and support. They challenge us, change us, and make us who we are. Without other people, this life would quickly lose its meaning. Show those around you that you appreciate them, that you love them, and that you can’t imagine this life without them in it. Make them feel loved!
The 5 Love Languages has a number of books that can be applied to children in your life, some that are specifically for teens, for school, if you are single, if you need to apologize, for you and a significant other, or just the 5 Love Languages in general. See this website if you’d like to know more: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/resources/books/
For those of you currently doing the Kindness Challenge with me for the month of September, I hope you are enjoying it! I’ve heard about some giving to Goodwill, some leaving notes, and others paying for coffee for strangers. Please share some of your experiences with me- I love, love, love to hear them! firstname.lastname@example.org
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“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi