~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
My son Abraham sent me this note in a text last week which said, “Just being a world citizen.”
I responded “Please can I post on FB?” because I’m a social media bragger like that. After my incessant text pleas, he agreed.
I posted: “I am never more proud of my children when they show kindness and compassion for others.”
What I didn’t post was this. The reason for that is a selfish one. I know that what Emerson says is true. I know that by serving others, my children will best help themselves. When my oldest son was in high school, and would get down, I’d ask him who he had helped that needed it more than him . When he shifted gears to an outward look, he’d always feel better.
Back to the note. This happened at the gym, a place where people go to work on their health. My son is a PhD student on Fellowship, and needed to close the financial gap during the summer. He took the job he could find working at the local YMCA (now managing after folding about 5,000 towels.)
Working with the public can be tough. He was working harder than he’d worked at most jobs and for less pay. People were rude on a daily basis. It was challenging and I knew it had been going that way based on our talks. Despite all that, when I saw that he took the time out to be kind and compassionate to Juan Acevedo’s mother, so much so that this stranger wrote him a note, my eyes teared.
In the Jewish faith, there are eight levels of giving. The highest is to equip the recipient to become self-reliant, preventing a need from ever taking hold. The next level is to give an anonymous gift to an anonymous recipient. I love that. This is unattached, altruistic giving at its best in my mind. Imagine what a healthy planet we would live on if everybody worked off these two levels. Or any of the levels.
T0 just engage with a lonely lady trying to get out and get healthy.
To treat everyone you meet with a smile, including a child who holds the door open for you. (Today, I watched 5 people walk by a young girl holding the door open 8 times her size and not even acknowledge her.)
To say hello to the Starbucks lady when she says hello to you before placing your order.
To listen–not because you want to say something next, but because people really need to be heard sometimes.
To send somebody you don’t know and have nothing to gain from an anonymous gift.
To LOOK for ways to be kind.
To look into the eyes of a homeless person and smile.
To focus less on the mask people wear on the outside, and see everybody as connected –as Love, as God.
To measure your success not by how much money is in your bank account or by what kind of car you drive, but how many lives you touch along the way.
That’s where true happiness lies.