If you’ve clicked on my About Me tab, then you know I’ve got a motto:
I think it’s good to have a motto. It boils everything down to the primal things that you think are most important in living your life. It gives you a core idea of who you are, fundamentally, and why you think you’ve been given this life.
If you’re looking for someone to share you life with, it seems ideal that she’d share your motto, or at least be compatible with it. Not that I think anyone but the most cynical people could really argue with my motto, but I’d want these words to resonate with her, to connect with her on a deeper level. I want these words to feel right to her.
I sprinkle my thoughts on love throughout posts on this blog, and wrote specifically about it in my post …She’d Be a Hopeless Romantic. For me, love is what living is all about. Everything else is just superficial bullshit that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Money, possessions, your job, your bills, the daily stresses of living– all that stuff is just window dressing. None of it is why we’re here, living this life right here and right now. We’re here to love, to give love and to receive love. Love is an endless well of feeling that never runs dry, so why be stingy with it? In fact, the more love you give, the more love you have… so give often and give deeply!
This springs from loving deeply. You obviously can’t “love” every person you encounter in life, but kindness is the sort of love that you can give to anyone, and it’s something that can often be done with minimal time or monetary investment. A smile, a compliment, an encouraging hug, a quick email, a comment on a forum or blog. Think about how good it feels when someone randomly says or does something nice for you– don’t you want to generate waves of those good feelings in the people you meet everywhere you go? Think about your life as like a motor boat cruising on the water– when you look back at where you’ve been, you’ve got a wake that spreads out behind you, covering a much wider area than your initial path. What you do along your path expands out like that wake, it ripples out to more people and places. Don’t you want your wake to be mostly filled with smiles, fond memories and love? Kindness is the most efficient and powerful way to fill that wake with the good stuff. I think of that bumper sticker I see sometimes: “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty.” YES! Think about how much better this world would be if kindness was everyone’s default.
And it doesn’t just extend to strangers. Daily acts of kindness strengthens the foundation of any relationship you value.
I’m a firm believer in the idea of paying it forward when it comes to doing good. The other day while my son was at lacrosse practice, my daughter and I were walking along the track and talking. She spotted some money in the grass and picked it up– turns out it was $50! She’s 11, so obviously that’s a ton of money (heck, it’s a ton of money to me too!) and I could tell she was excited. She asked me what she should do with it, and we talked about it a few minutes. Ultimately, she decided that we should turn it in to the concession stand in case someone came looking for it. I was so proud of her decision!
I talked about it afterwards to help reinforce her decision to do the right thing. I told her that, yes, it would feel great to have an extra fifty dollars to spend on things we’d want, but that great feeling would come at a cost. $50 is a lot of money to anyone out here in the 99%, and someone was going to be very upset about losing it. Worst case, it might make them miss paying a bill, or perhaps it was their gas money and they’d run out of gas and be stranded somewhere. Maybe it was money they were going to spend on their kid’s birthday. Our happiness at the found money wasn’t worth the terrible feelings that the person who lost that money would be experiencing.
Sure, turning in the money to the concession stand might not solve that. Perhaps the person who lost the money wouldn’t think to check there, or maybe the person who works there would just slip the money into his or her own pocket (though I think volunteering your time to work the concession stands at sports events indicates a certain altruistic nature). But I thought the odds were pretty good that the person who lost that money would eventually check there.
About 30 minutes later a grateful woman came up to us and thanked my daughter for turning in the money (I had made clear to the concession stand worker that she was the one who found the money). Turns out that she’s a team mom for one of the lacrosse team, and that money was for the team. I could imagine the relief she must have felt at finding out someone had turned in the money.
I was proud of my daughter. She’d done a good deed. And in her wake was someone who was grateful for the kindness of strangers. Maybe the woman told her husband or kids about it. Maybe someone would be inspired by the story when they ran across a similar situation. And ultimately, my daughter felt good about doing good, and seeing that in her was worth more than any amount of money. It’s my hope that my kids will adopt my motto as their own, and fill their own wake through life with smiles, love, kindness and good deeds.