This quote is attributed to Plato and Philo, but it is thought to actually have been first said by Ian Maclaren. It doesn't really matter who said it. What matters is that it is true and profound, and if we could only think that thought when we encounter our fellow humans, even when they are cutting us off in traffic or giving us the finger, it would be a better world.
But we are not saints. In the bustle and stress of everyday life, it is often difficult to be self aware and think of others.
I have spoken of my Dad often in my blog posts. He was not a famous person or a rich person and he certainly had his foibles. But he was an extraordinary person nonetheless.
I have never forgotten his telling me that you show love by doing something you don't want to do, but you do it anyway without expecting anything in return.
I think of that every time I remember how when he had to go somewhere himself he would let me have the car to drive around my friends when I was the only one who could get the car -- and he would walk.
Or the time he drove all over our nearby big town to the Army/Navy stores trying to find me a Navy pea coat that I "had to have" because it was all the rage. He was always doing that kind of thing. He made me very happy.
He also bought me a white sports car with a little white poodle to match so I wouldn't be sad and lonely while my husband was in Vietnam. He was that kind of person.
I have tried to be that kind of person. And I notice it and am appreciative when others do that.
Recently Hubby played in a reunion concert in our hometown. Many of our old friends came including one who traveled over 100 miles in traffic to show support and spend those few hours with us. That effort made us very happy.
Meditation has also taught me that there really is something to throwing kindness and positivity out into the universe. You never know when a smile or some small thing you do makes a big difference in someone else's life and makes them happy.
And the Universe gives it back.
I have talked before about smiling and being cheerful to flight attendants on planes
(see my post about traveling - Baby Boomer Style).
How difficult is it to give them a big smile when you get on the plane and say something complimentary like how smashing they look in their cute uniforms? I did that on a recent trip to Italy and when I disembarked and thanked the flight attendants for taking care of us, one said to me, "There's that great smile again!" So I know I made her day when I got on the plane and she made mine when I got off.
Another thing I like to do is wish people I encounter "great happiness."
When I sit for an hour or two at a bar, as I am wont to do from time to time, and carry on a conversation with the bartender, or if I meet a young couple while traveling and we share travel tips, if it has been a positive encounter when we part I will say, "I wish you great happiness." And I do. And I can see the effect that has because think about it. How often does anyone wish you great happiness?
One of my favorite instances of that was a recent trip to London.
We found a pub near our hotel that was a classic one. It had great food and was just like the pub - The Queen Victoria - in my favorite British soap opera, "Eastenders" that I have been watching for over 25 years.
We ended our day there more than once, engaging the bartender and the wait staff. On our last night there, when they were getting ready to close (it was one of the London pubs that still closed at 10:30pm), I wished them great happiness as I said goodnight and told them how much fun we had had. I said, "It's just like The Queen Vic!" The manager patted the bar, handed me a free drink and said, "Stay." They closed up the bar and we got to stay afterhours with them as they cleaned up. We learned how they all lived upstairs over the pub, how they came to be there and all kinds of personal tidbits. I felt like one of the locals. It was the highlight of my trip.
Thanking your server.
In the same vein, when you have had a good experience in a restaurant, why not thank the server for taking care of you?
It goes without saying that you don't wave at your server, ignore him or her or act rudely. If our server has been attentive and friendly, I will often say, "Thank you for taking such good care of us." I know that makes servers happy, because how often does anyone take the time to do that?
My Dad was the most thoughtful person I have ever known.
We might be window shopping, and I might point out a coat I really liked. By the way, before I go on, does anyone even know what "window shopping" is anymore? Window shopping is what people did for fun before social media took over. You would go for a walk downtown and look in the shop windows at things you couldn't afford and that was considered a lot of fun.
Anyway, after a window shopping excursion with my Mom and Dad, where I had expressed interest in a coat, weeks or even months later, when a gift giving occasion would come around, there that coat would be...with a hat and a muff thrown in!
I think of that now and realize that my Dad would have not only had to remember what I had admired, but he would have had to make a special point to go back and get it before it was gone. That made me happy to know that my Dad remembered and cared enough to do that, but I also know it made him happy to see me happy.
I have never forgotten those acts of love and kindness and they helped to shape my own life.
(Here's something I have to share about that and it probably accounts for my rabid shopping tendencies. My Dad used to say that when you see something "you can't live without," you must get it even if you can't afford it, because if you don't, when you have all of the money in the world, you will never find it and always regret it. How's that for some kind of advice about money? Psychologists would have a field day with that, don't you think)?
We are not invisible busy bees going about our stressed-out lives in a vacuum. We are humans who affect other humans.
When you say something kind, when you smile, when you give a thoughtful gift, you make someone else happy.
Yes, you might have to go out of your way a bit but that special effort can make someone's day.
It takes so little to do so much.
And you know what?
You discover that you have made yourself happy too.
So go make someone happy! The power is yours.
Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
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The Week in Reviews
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and the latest on
My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
I Die Project."
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