JOHNNY APPLE SEED AREN’T WE ALL?

Countless are the times that people have come up to me and said things such as, “I was thinking about what we talked about a while back….” I am sure we have all heard this in our lives. We have all been on the opposite side too, haven’t we? Something someone was telling us didn’t make sense to us at the time, but through some change in life circumstance, we can appreciate it now. Maybe it is a loving thing they told us, the reminder of which has helped us make it through a tough time we are currently facing. This can work in the opposite way too. How many times have we remembered something hurtful that was said or done to us? I am not sure why we choose to do that, but that can be how the human brain works.

What we must keep in mind is that everyday we go through life we are planting seeds. Much like a farmer, what we grow will depend on what seeds we plant. We can plant beautiful flowers, fruit, or even a poisonous plant. The seed may take root or it may not. It may grow in our garden or others may be left to benefit, or be poisoned by what grows. In this way we have an ability to affect not only our life, but the world at large. Allow me to explain what I mean by use of a historical figure.

Johnny Appleseed, better known as John Chapman was an American Pioneer nurseryman who planted apple trees in several states and in part of Canada during the late 18th and early 19th century. A lot of the trees he never saw grow, but in the places he visited people were eating apples long after he was gone. We do much the same things with our words and actions. They may not be apple trees, but we are planting seeds just the same.

If we think in terms of Johnny Appleseed’s story, what will grow from the seeds we plant? If we are planting seeds of kindness and encouragement every where we go, we will see kindness blossom and grow. We will see the confidence and joy continue to grow in the hearts of our friends and family. If we plant seeds of gossip and complaint, we will see melancholy, sadness and resentment blossom all around us. In this way we do a great deal to shape the world in which we live.

What about the world at large? Truly, the seeds we plant can’t make much of a difference on a global scale? Think about this. When you go to purchase a cup of coffee at your local Starbucks, treating the employee with extra kindness could ease a tough day they are having. There you affect one person. Due to that act of kindness, they may treat the next person in line with an extra amount of customer service. Then you have affected two people. Maybe that person is on the way to the airport to fly home to a different city or even country and now feels good thanks to the good service they received. They may go on to treat people they encounter on their journey with more kindness and compassion. Thus, your simple act of kindness could affect people halfway across the world. It may not reach such global proportions, then again with comments on social media and the internet we can spread a great deal of seeds without even leaving our homes.

Although this was a positive example, the same holds true in reverse. You may think comments and they way you treat people are harmless, but you are forever planting seeds. We may not see them grow and it may take years for them to blossom, but given time they will. Let us all do our part to plant seeds of kindness, compassion, encouragement and joy. We will grow a garden of positive results. Let us be equally vigilant against casting seeds of negativity, gossip and judgment to the wind. They too, will grow into a world of negative people, places and things.

Let us all remember we are Johnny Appleseed in our own way. Let us plant seeds to grow positive families, friends, communities and the world at large.

ARE YOU THE CANDLE OR THE MIRROR?

It took me a while to truly grasp the power of this quote. The candle represents sources of light in the world. It could be good-looking and charming authors who double as postal workers, social workers, emergency workers, great parents and teachers, religious and spiritual leaders or anyone else who inspires us or makes the world a better place. In some ways I think we are all candles, or at least have the ability to be so. In being the best at whatever we do we set an example for the world to follow. Even the shyest and most reserved of us have opportunities to be kind to others.

The mirror represents those who promote those who are candles. This can range from sharing a motivational website that inspires you with others, to showing appreciation to wonderful people who make a difference in your life. Did a teacher or coach push you to be the best you can be? By telling others that story you bring to light how special they are. This holds true for talking good about anyone. Did your spouse do something thoughtful for you? By sharing the joy they gave to you it brings more light and positivity to the world. This is a double-edged sword. Imagine what we do when we complain and share with others the terrible things people do?

I find by both being a candle to inspire others as well as a mirror to reflect the flame of the fabulous people I come across is the way that I can bring the most light into the world. Starting today, do your best to not only be an inspiration to others, but to recognize and help share those that inspire you as well.

SPEAK THROUGH THE 3 GATES

This is a great litmus test to put our words through. How many times a day do we let something escape our lips that we shouldn’t? Having these 3 questions in mind would help prevent that from happening. Remember you cannot unsay something.

How do we keep these questions front and center? Use this picture as your screensaver, pertain jot them down on an index card you carry with you. Then, put it into practice. Try doing this just for a conversation here and there. Eventually, it well become a way of not only speaking, but thinking as well.

So you don’t feel too down on yourself when you first try this, allow me to share my experience. I tried this at work and all I can say is “wow!” I never realized how many useless negative things I say there! Even someone who writes positivity for a living! Although a bit taken aback, I was excited. There is so much room for me to improve my conversation skills.

Try this yourself. I’m about to meet a friend for coffee and am going to try again. I think you will notice different people bring out different conversations. I would love to hear your experience as well!

ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT THINGS TO DO

To me this is one of the most difficult things in life to accomplish. Someone cuts you off in traffic and almost causes an accident. How do you not launch into a monologue that would make a sailor blush? A person is always negative and unpleasant, why waste any of your positive energy on them?

I find there are several reasons why you might want to do this, but I will focus on two of them for brevity. First is obvious and altruistic reason – they need it. Perhaps their angst is caused by people giving it to them as well and your kindness could turn their world around. Perhaps your kind words could thaw a cold heart? Could turn a frown upside down?

All of these reasons lead us to our second reason. It is one of the greatest opportunities you may have to change the world. If you can turn an unpleasant person into a pleasant person, even if only for a moment that can have a ripple effect. Next time they are inclined to give someone a not so friendly greeting or response maybe they will think of the kind way in which you treated them. Maybe it will even have them feeling a little guilty for not passing it along. That is ok, whatever it takes to remove them from their created work of negativity.

With each and every soul we touch we become closer to a world that will be more loving for each and every one of us. Next time you see this person they may even remember how you treated them last time you saw each other and extend to  you a little more kindness thus making your world a little more sunny. So do it for yourself, do it for them and do it for the world. It will not be easy, but it sure will be worth it.

One more thing. Being able to do so will give you a great sense of accomplishment. You will leave with a better feeling about yourself as well as a sense of pride.

THE POWER OF ONE…

I am a big fan of simple random acts of kindness.  I am also a fan of surrounding myself with positive books, cds and other inspirational items to be enjoyed at any given moment.  That is why I am happy to tell you about the book ‘The Power of One’ by Steve Maraboli.  In this fabulous book there is simply 365 things to try to bring kindness to the world.  Presumably one per day of the year.  Of course you could do more than one a day, or do one a week.  The important point here is that there are several good ideas for bringing kindness to others.  If you are unable to find or afford this book, fear not, I am going to be sharing a few of these ideas in the coming days.  I do recommend picking up a copy of you are able to as it is also sprinkled with great uplifting quotes and inspiration.  The principle the book is based on is ‘one kind gesture, one person at a time, one day at a time’  It may seem like a small idea until you realize how many ‘ones’ you see every day.  Imagine if every person you saw on any given day would do just one kind thing and you can begin to get an appreciation for the power of this idea.  Speaking of ideas it may also be fun to form a list of your own ideas. Simple ideas of selfless kindness you can do for others.  You’ll be amazed at the power of one, especially when you realize the one is you.