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Today Is 'Mitzvah Day,' So Take the Chatsworth Challenge and Heal the World

Starting today, devote yourself to doing acts of kindness: something -- anything -- that can make life better for someone else.

OK, Chatsworthians! Are you ready for this week's Chatsworth Challenge?

No?  Are you hot?  Tired?  Cold?  Hungry? Aggravated?  Busy?  Hung over? Too much laundry to do?  Well, put all that aside because this week's Chatsworth Challenge needs you.   Together, we are going to make Chatsworth the best place in the San Fernando Valley to live. Maybe the best place in Los Angeles.  Maybe the best place in California, the United States and the world.

We are going to make all your friends jealous that you live or work in Chatsworth.  And then, we are going to make it spill over into surrounding communities, the United States and the world!  Right?

This week's Chatsworth Challenge is to devote yourself to doing acts of kindness: something -- anything -- that can make life better for someone else.  Make it your mission to spread happiness.   Try to better the life of someone.  Or  several someones.   In Judaism, we call this a mitzvah.  As in Judaism, you get extra points if the acts of kindness are done in secret.  That way you don't get praise or credit for doing them.  You do them out of the goodness of your heart. Your payoff is knowing that you did the mitzvah.  Try it.  You may be surprised at how good it makes you feel.

And today is Mitzvah Day, a day devoted to good deeds and "healing the world." How convenient. Can you think of a better day to launch this week's Chatsworth Challenge?

Your act of kindness can be a simple thing like giving someone a word of encouragement.  Or a complicated thing like offering to shop for an elderly invalid neighbor.  Bake someone cookies.  Give a friendly smile to a stranger.  Use your imagination. I  can't wait to hear what you come up with!

You can do acts of kindness for people you know and for strangers.  You can do acts of kindness for people you hate (force yourself) and for random people you encounter in your daily rounds.

Your challenge is to do acts of kindness that will make life easier or better for one person or for as many people as you can.

This does not mean that you have to spend every waking moment doing good deeds.  I mean, don't go all Girl Scout on us (although the Girl Scout Council was  based in Chatsworth for a time, so maybe that's alright.)  Just make it a point, as you go about your daily routine, to look for opportunities to make someone's life easier and better.  Even if you're tired.  Even if you're grouchy.  Even if you're hungry or harried or hot.  Remember life is hard out there, especially now.  But we can make the worst of times better.  Whether we're old or young, rich or poor, fat or skinny, smart or dumb, pretty or ugly, foolish or wise, we can make life better for each other.

And guess what?  That will make life better for ourselves. We live in an enormous, impersonal megalopolis.  It can feel pretty cold and cruel out there.  That may be okay for Reseda or Tarzana but it's not okay for Chatsworth.  If we each do some little thing, we can make Chatsworth the coolest, most cachet place to live ever.

Your act of kindness can be as big a thing as helping a friend move into a new apartment or as small a thing as cleaning out the lint trap for the next person at the laundromat. (You're excused from this if you're late to carpool or you have a screaming baby in your arms.) Pay for a meal for a panhandler.  Flash a sympathetic look at a woman whose child is throwing a temper tantrum in Target. Tell a woman in a restaurant that her children are well-behaved.  Compliment a flustered store clerk on his necktie. Make eye contact with a lonely person.

It can be taking your talents -- be they singing, dancing, story telling or just listening -- to an old age home.  It can be listening to someone's story, hearing a lonely person out,  or resisting the urge to criticize your child in a harsh manner.  Whatever it is, just make it your mission to look for ways to make someone else's life better.

Let me give you just one little example of how you can make this fun. One morning when it rained, my kids and I went out really early to play in the mud puddles.  Then, inspiration hit us. We figured since we're already wet, why don't we save other people from having to come out in the rain to get their newspapers?  So we went to every house on our street with a newspaper in the driveway and put the newspaper by the front door.  We were giggling the whole time, feeling like the Newspaper Fairy.  Of course, in some neighborhoods, this could get you shot so use discretion, but you get the idea.  Use your imagination.  Have fun with this week's Chatsworth Challenge!

And don't forget to tell us how it turned out, good or bad.  Tell us what you did and what was the result.  What did it feel like?  (Okay, we're violating the anonymous part but for a good reason.)

OK, Chatsworth.  You have your marching orders.  Do you think you can do it?  Of course you can. Go do us proud. I would not entrust this mission to Resedans or Woodland Hillians.  This is a job for Chatsworthians. Come on, it's Mitzvah Day. Take the Chatsworth Challenge.

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