Have you ever heard the phrase “kindness is free?” I actually have 2 tee-shirts, one short sleeve and one long sleeve, which have the phrase written across the front. They are my favorite tee-shirts, that’s why I have two of them … so I can wear the phrase year-round. However, my son Paul disagrees with this phrase. I love to wear it when I know he’s going to be around … just to share words of disagreement … I didn’t want to say argue.
Let me go back several months. Back before Convid-19, Paul asked if I would be available to house sit for the family while they went on vacation to Cedar Point, Ohio. The trip was to celebrate my granddaughter Abby’s 16th birthday. Of course I said yes! I love being kind and helping others … especially my family. Now fast forward to August 3rd when I traveled to Wilmington to house sit. This was not your normal house sitting. It involved not only the home, but a dog named Millie, a cat named Peaches, a dragon lizard named Elliot, a gecko named Leo and seven unnamed chickens.
The dog and cat were easy to care for. The lizard and gecko were different. I hate worms … and I had to gather worms from a large box and feed them both daily. Yuck … I absolutely hated this part of the job. Each day I also had to go into the pen to feed the chickens and then collect the eggs. Not too bad of a job, right? Well, the night that they left for Ohio happened to be the night that Hurricane Isaias decided to visit Wilmington. Sitting alone in a dark hallway, with no electricity, was quite scary. Listening to tree limbs hit the house was very unnerving. I survived the night only to endure the next two days without power. No electricity at Paul’s also means no water … which means no toilets. Sure brought back memories of Hurricane Floyd. The morning after the storm I also found a dead chicken in the pen. Thank goodness for Morgan’s hubby coming to my rescue and bagging it up and disposing of it.
So, what did I learn from this? Kindness might be free of money but definitely not free of time, patience, and inconvenience. Maybe Paul could be a bit right in his argument. However, I still believe that kindness can be given freely. Maybe that’s the idea behind the phrase.
I have been thinking about my life and how many blessings I have enjoyed and all the kindness from others that has enriched my life! Yes … there are many! Let me share a story … It’s a story about Fiorello LaGuardia who was once the mayor of New York City during the time of the Great Depression. One winter day as he presided at police court, an officer brought in a shabbily dressed man charged with stealing a loaf of bread. The defendant explained that his family was starving. LaGuardia stated that his hands were tied and that he had to punish the man. He fined the man 10 dollars. The mayor then reached into his pocket, pulled out 10 dollars and paid the fine for the man. Then, looking around the courtroom, he stated that he was fining everyone in the courtroom 50 cents for living in a town where a man had to steal bread to eat. He ordered the bailiff to collect from everyone and to give the money to the defendant. The stunned man left the courtroom with $47.50. That certainly is not much by today’s standards, but the mayor was not just asking for money … he was asking for kindness, compassion and encouragement for the man and his family.
I find that acts of kindness motivate me to pay it forward as best I can, every single day! We ALL can give compassion, encouragement and hope. We can lift and bless others with our smiles, our hugs, compliments, and kindness. We can be generous with our time, treat others like they really do matter, and be sensitive to their feelings and their needs. More often than not, these are things that do not cost money … they are free. Rather, they are gifts of our love, and time. Through these simple actions we can ease the difficulties of our neighbors.
Let’s think about how kindness from others has helped us. I love using metaphors! Forrest Gump told us that “Life is like a box of chocolates!” I like to think of “Life as a Puzzle.” My life is one of those tricky 1,000 piece puzzles. When I began my puzzle I came up with a plan on how to put it together and then started on my journey. The pieces were all very small and looked somewhat alike. So at first, I found myself trying to force certain pieces into the wrong position or place. Even though they appeared as if they should fit, they just weren’t meant for that space. It would be so easy to just pick up a pair of scissors and snip – snip – snip in order to make it fit. But life doesn’t work that way.
Several times in my life when I thought things were looking great and things were fitting together beautifully …suddenly I would come to a piece of the puzzle that I didn’t like or that I didn’t want to fill in the space in which it was intended for. Pieces such as my husband’s untimely death, or my Triple Negative Breast Cancer diagnosis and treatment, and the death of my sister Cathy. That’s just three of many pieces that I was not at all fond of! For some of you it might be pieces representing poor health, loss of a friend or family member, loss of employment, or a family or economic crisis. We all have unattractive and unwanted pieces in our life’s puzzle. We may be sad, frustrated, over-whelmed, or feel as though we would rather give up. We mustn’t do that! That’s when kindness from others enters our lives. We must simply keep putting those pieces together, along with kindness from others, until we see the bigger picture appear before our eyes.
During our annual family beach retreat to Topsail Island, we gather around the dining room table and work on a puzzle together. It’s so much fun. Family or friends passing by would jump right in to help! Together we learned a great lesson about patience and persistence and the power of teamwork. The puzzle fell into place much quicker with help from family and friends! Smiles, high-fives and jumps for joy were expressed when one of us located and solved a missing piece that was difficult to find. Someone would stop by to help, looking at the puzzle from a fresh perspective or different angle, or just offering help and encouragement. Isn’t this the way life should be? Others passing by and stopping to help or offer kindness and encouragement. Remember it goes both ways; we must offer help, kindness and encouragement for others who are solving their own puzzles!
In my journal I have written several times about showing kindness and how important it is in creating happiness. My notes remind me of the things I should be doing each day. It’s what I will refer to as puzzle pieces that make other pieces fall into place. It’s a list of five things … Sort of like kindness goals! They are things I believe make my life happier and help others too. Here they are:
- Make every hug last at least 10 seconds longer! Make them feel loved!
- Give out at least 3 compliments a day! It makes you feel better and definitely makes them feel better!
- Serve others daily! “In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these” …
- Accept help and always remember to show your appreciation! Makes life so much easier!
- Never … ever … give up! Jim Valvano was so right!
Abraham Lincoln … “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” To live life to its fullest, you must follow the Savior’s teachings … love one another, service others, and be kind!
We are all in this together! …So let’s see what we can do! Look around you right now and find someone that needs support, encouragement, hope and above all KINDNESS. You have it within yourself to give. If you want to be happy and get your mind off your own problems, do something for someone else! Real happiness doesn’t come from being selfish, but by being selfless. Everything you do comes back around. In life, you get out what you put in. When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life. Kindness is free … share it often!
Eleanor Roosevelt said it best “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Remember life is a puzzle and you really do have the very last piece in your possession to bring you happiness! That piece just might be kindness! …
Just saying …