My daughter was twenty-one and living away from home for the first time, in an apartment she shared with another young woman. I stopped by for a visit and found her in a foul mood. When she snapped at me, I quietly left. I drove straight to a floral shop, then returned to her apartment and presented her with a rose and a note that said that, no matter what she said or did, I could always see the beauty and purity of her soul shining through. In an instant, her bad mood vanished as if it had never been and she was her normal kind, wonderful self again. We had a good talk and a good hug. And the rest of her day was better than it would have been.
Many years before that exchange with my daughter, I was battling a co-worker over her smoking habit. As hard as it is to imagine now, smoking used to be allowed in the workplace and Kathy’s desk was close to mine. It was a battle I couldn’t win; she wasn’t about to quit smoking and I wasn’t about to quit my job. One day I went to a flower shop and had a rose delivered to her at work. If I recall, I wrote on the card something to the effect that what I was objecting to was her smoking, not her as a person, and that I hoped we could get along better. She was absolutely floored, and our relationship was instantaneously transformed.
Choosing kindness is always an option. Especially when you are treated unkindly or when people are expecting you to be upset. Not only will your unexpected kindness be deeply appreciated, the remembrance of it will likely occupy a special place in their heart, a place they can return to for comfort and peace—and for sharing that peace with others when the opportunity arises.
Choosing kindness is both selfless and selfish.Years ago, even though I already immensely cherished my daughter, I consciously worked to heighten my appreciation of her even more. I didn’t want to waste one moment of my life not feeling anything but love for her because I knew that years later, I would look back with great regret if I had wasted any opportunities to express my love. Ultra-appreciating Erin has since become deeply ingrained in me and, even though she is now thirty years old and married, I light up like the sun every time I hear her voice or see her.
The days are too short even for love; how can there be enough time for quarreling?
Margaret Scott Gatty
When I think of unexpected kindnesses, my mind flashes back to my teenage years. One Sunday, my parents, sister and I drove 35 miles from St. Cloud, Minnesota, to Little Falls to visit Ellen, an elderly family friend who was the sister of Mrs. Sparrow, the wonderful woman who operated my Dad’s college boarding house. We were late, and worried that she would be upset with us. When we arrived, however, we were greeted with a kindly smile as bright and as warm as the sun. She brushed off our apologies, and said that the important thing was that we were safe and sound and that we had a wonderful afternoon that was just waiting for us to enjoy together.
Kindness and synchronicity walk hand in hand. Case in point: Unaware of the subject of today’s blog post, twenty-three-year-old Jackie Rose Helpern of New York City e-mailed the following paragraph to me this morning:
I wanted to be a nicer person so I stopped being angry with anyone who was late to meet me. I realized that when someone was late to dinner or whatever, my being mad at them only wasted more of our already shortened time. Being greeted with a smile has happily surprised many latecomers as they were expecting me to be upset. I started smiling four years ago and haven’t stopped since.
Wise words. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks, Jackie Rose.
The world needs all of our power and love and energy, and each of us has something to give. The trick is to find it and use it, to find it and give it away, so there will always be more. We can be lights for each other, and through each other’s illumination we will see the way. Each of us is a seed, a silent promise, and it is always spring.
Click here to view all my posts on the transcendent power of kindness.
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Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, is a road map for living a more peaceful, beautiful life. It’s the one book that explains how dozens of spiritual principles interact, how to weave them together into a cohesive worldview, and how to practically apply this spiritual wisdom to daily life.
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Those who worship logic instead of God are only half right. Not only is it logical to believe in God and to live a faith-based life, the existence of a loving, benevolent God that governs all creation is perhaps the only systematic worldview that explains every aspect of life.
Phil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent authors and thought leaders he interviewed. The roster of storytellers includes Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, Caroline Myss, Larry Dossey, Rachel Naomi Remen, Bernie Siegel, Dean Ornish, and Christiane Northrup. Sixty Seconds has been translated into four languages: Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories.
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