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Hailey Bartholomew was feeling depressed. So she decided to remind herself of one thing she was thankful for every day, and to take a Polaroid photo of it. But it didn't work so she crawled under the covers and never came out again.
Wait, not really! What actually resulted was that this chore she'd created for herself became an incredibly life-affirming project. She began to notice the things she loved that she'd been overlooking -- most of all her marriage. Her relationships improved. Her health improved. Her spiritual life improved. And what's more, she found that her project was inspiring others to be thankful for everything around them, too. She's working on a documentary about how being grateful affected real change in her life, and you can watch a wonderful video about it here.
There are many ways to acknowledge our gratitude, but I love Bartholomew's unique angle of creating actual photographs, actual artifacts. The other day I realized my daughter had been a little too quiet for a little too long, and I peeked into my bedroom, where she was "having alone time." She looked up from the massive pile of photos I'd been meaning to put in an album, and smiled a guilty, mystified smile and said, "This is really interesting."
It is really interesting, isn't it, how we can hold a moment in our hands? We're so used to seeing pictures online that the actual photograph has become an object that calls attention to itself, that makes us pause, that induces us to actually look in a way we don't when clicking through a Flickr album.
What are you grateful for? Go on, snap a photo of it. And print it. And hold it in your hands.
Spread Gratitude With Oprah's Thank You Game
Here, a moment of pure strangeness from the master of wackiness, Jim Henson. This short film, which according to boing boing was nominated for an Academy Award, is an off-kilter meditation on time -- time as a running Abraham Lincoln, time as a painted elephant -- but I think what I love most about it is that it's also so off-brand, Jim Henson-wise. No puppets. Not for kids.
In our creative and work lives, we're always getting the message to, well, stay on message. To consider each public showing, each event or idea or tweet, as a part of our persona, to build the brand of self. So it's good to have a reminder, now and then, that you do best is being yourself. We can watch this odd film and figure out how it fits into the brand of Jim Henson -- he just had to concern himself with making the things he wanted to make. Like this. Which is totally weird. (via boing boing)
Whimsical Japanese Animations
The Whole-Body Way to Tell Time
As he told Chicago Parent, "This is for my daughter, first and foremost. I want her to see how easy it is to give back to others. I have a newborn, a life outside of work and a full-time job, but it's still easy to do random acts of kindness." Okay, guy. I can't even manage to floss every day, but that's just me. Garcia is on Day 151 of his mission of kindness and hasn't missed a day yet, whether it's donating money to a charity, wearing a color to support a cause, or something more involved like passing out valentines to strangers or making laminated signs for the homeless. Go, Ryan Garcia! Only 215 days until you can start being mean to everyone! (Ed. note: Just kidding.)
The more of Garcia's good works I click through, the more my initial feeling of guilt (so many kind acts!) dissolves into a sense of lightness. He's right. It really is possible to perform one small act of kindness every day, and the key is just that, keeping it small. Donating the extra dollar at the pharmacy register for pediatric cancer; paying a library fine. These really are things every one can do without going broke or having to spend a ton of time, things that can make a little difference in the life of someone else, and will make a big difference in your own life.
Inspired to do some good today? Like or follow Garcia and guess what, he'll donate 10 cents to charity. There, wasn't that easy?
9 Stories of Generosity
Daily Ideas for Good Deeds
It's not often that my husband rides the Super Sweet Viral Video train, but the other morning he beckoned me to the computer, his eyes welling up, to watch this: The World's First Live Lip Dub Proposal. Watch the reactions of the (spoiler!) bride-to-be, and remember what you forgot you'd forgotten about the ecstasy of new love, the excitement of new marriage, and the awesomeness of the lip dub meme.
You can click through the images and note what expression you think they express, and then view the results of the larger experiment here. One result? People today have different words for emotions than Darwin's Victorian crowd did -- reminding us that what we think of as being innate emotions may well be social constructs. I know, it's deep. What strikes me most, though, is how uncanny, unsettling the photographs are, proving, if nothing else, the intangible qualities that go into these nonverbal human communications. In other words, a smile is not just some muscles contracting.
via It's Okay To Be Smart
The Smile That Can't Be Stolen
Smile -- it's Contagious!
Apparently every one besides me already knew about the weird, wonderful world of sidewalk chalk illusions, but I just discovered them and have the same feeling as when I first learned about the existence of those enormous sand sculptures -- kind of mystified and vaguely excited and happy that such things happen in the world. At first blush, I think, how wonderful that this art form usually relegated to children has such gorgeous, grand applications. And then the more I study these images of Edgar Müller's chalk art from the addictive site Mighty Optical Illusions, the more I have this visceral urge to walk across this icy abyss. Don't you just want to do a jig on that ominous crevasse? Perhaps it is this that makes the chalk illusions so delightful -- the way the darkness tricks your brain into feeling scared, releases in your body the shaky feeling of a near-miss, allows you to do the daring and impossible... all from your completely safe vantage point on solid ground.
For more amazing chalk-art, take a behind-the-scenes look at the O Magazine chalk art cover.
Chalk Murals For Releasing Fear
Imagining MC Escher's Workplace
Latte Art Contests
The other day I was suffering a mid-afternoon slump that resisted even a stroll, even a peek at Pinterest, even an ill-conceived 4:30 iced coffee. Whither this abyss of slumpitude? Then I happened to hear, mysteriously wafting through my building's courtyard, a song I love. How could I have forgotten music?
I believe this is what's happening in this surreal animation by Japanese artist Masanobu Hiraoka. The blah-ed out figure, slumped over the table. The iPod. The figures that leap from the iPod and expand into an abstractly unfolding explosion of imagery. There's something so evocative about this artist's animations, and I love the gorgeous, colorful manifestation of music. Watch, listen, and feel your slump dissolve.
The Healing Power of Song
A Life Worth Remembering
The Fine Art of Folding Air
During the month of May—Military Appreciation Month— the Hashtags4Heroes application uses your unused Twitter characters to help spread awareness about the Wounded Warriors Project. The Wounded Warriors Project has a lovely and very reasonable sounding mission statement: "To foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history." The organization provides programs to help service members find aid and support for themselves and each other, and their website is stocked with wrenching stories from soldiers about surviving injuries both physical and emotional. “I want to be always serving," says one soldier who lost his leg as result of a suicide bombing in Iraq and suffers from PTSD and traumatic brain injury. " I try to make that my life goal – 24/7."
Giving up some unused virtual imaginary space to help people who have given a whole lot more than that? Seems like a pretty painless way to do a little bit of good today.
A Restless Heart Leads to Afghanistan
The Bravest Families in America
Why Are So Many Female Veterans Homeless?
There's this woman who I think is living my shadow life, or else I'm living hers: we see each other everywhere. I literally see her every day, and not at the same places either -- one day it was the library, the next day the coffee shop, the day after it was on the street in completely different neighborhood than where we usually see one another. But it took a Boom Boom! card suggesting the act of kindness to get me to introduce myself.
If you would like to become acquainted with someone in a very awkward way, I suggest interrupting her nice coffee break and then asking to take a photograph of her with some card in front on her face. That said, shouldn't we all just do this? Introduce ourselves, like normal human beings, instead of shuffling around not making eye contact with people, or spending years greeting familiar faces, "Hey! Hello...you...!"
About the Boom Boom cards. Each deck contains suggestions for kindness, which in my deck (Original Flavor) amounted to basic politeness I probably should employ every day but don't. Hold open a door. Call someone you haven't spoken with in a while. Apologize. Pick up some litter.
To this card, I say: If picking up dog poop is a revolutionary, call me Che Guevara. I guess it doesn't count as much if it's your own dog though.
Next! I think anyone who has ever worked in customer service can appreciate this one:
This one feels good, it really does. I wish every day, everywhere, I could tip extravagantly and often. I would burn through my budget real fast though, so I think on most days a really earnest smile and thank you will have to suffice. Still, it's one of the only kinds of spending money that actually feels nice. Well, that and:
The cutest aspect of these rather cute cards is how they turn kindness into a game. You register your deck (or individual card) online, and track your kindnesses, writing a little story (and including a photo or video if you like) about each card. What's coolest about this is reading other people's additions. I bought coffee for someone and felt kind of nervous the whole time; she was a little confused, but then again, this is New York City and it probably seemed like a weird scam. Then there's Denise in Jacksonville, Illinois, for example, who also bought someone coffee and reports that the recipient thanked her profusely and vowed to pay it forward. Kindness is catching, and the game-like aspect of these cards makes the small good deeds (and I appreciate how imminently do-able they are) feel even more fun. I found myself wanting to give the cards to people, too, because it struck me that the most fun part was the weird, warming act of buying a stranger coffee, picking up some litter -- it was the feeling of putting good energy into the air that I wanted most to share. Which I guess is the whole point.
Find out more about Boom Boom! Cards and read about people's kind acts here.
Play Oprah's Kindness Game!
Stories of Modern Kindness
Tell any little kid "It's time to go," and see if you don't get the response, "Five more minutes!" This response, however, is not actually about time at all. "Five more minutes," they know, means "not yet," but the difference between one minute or five or five hundred is negligible. "Is it bedtime?" my daughter asks me at 10 in the morning, when the sun passes behind a cloud. The day after Halloween: "Is it Halloween again yet?" And then, mid-April, "Why is it taking so long to be Halloween again?"
But really, who does understand how time works? We've all had five minuteses that went in the blink of an eye, and others that lasted eternities. We've all had days spent traveling that seem to expand to include a lifetime; hours at a desk that creep by as if wounded. And yet in our daily existence, we've stripped time of its mysteries: we don't think much about it past how to fit tasks into the calendar. We glance at clocks as if they were maps, just to see where we are in the day, how late or how early for the next thing.
So next time you want to know what time it is, I suggest looking here.
In Mark Formanek's "Standard Time," workers painstakingly change a huge, wooden "digital" clock manually, minute by minute. The process is sometimes graceful (changing an 8 to a 9 looks like a dancestep), sometimes painstaking (those 10s!), but every minute makes itself felt. The longer you watch, the more absurd "telling time" seems as a practice. As the official website says, "Even though the workers are trying hard to construct every single minute, they are constantly on the verge of failing." Who hasn't had a day like that? Still, we construct each minute, even if sometimes it's less graceful than others.
It's Blue O'Clock
The Wind Map