We have all heard the saying If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? The premise being if there is no receiver, does the action still matter? The quick answer is “yes”. According to the laws of physics, the sound still happens. Dynamite does not silently explode because the workers have retreated to a safe distance. That should seem quite obvious.
This had me thinking of the flip-side of this equation. What about the creative side of things? What if you were to plant a tree and nobody was around to see you do it? Would it still matter? The quick answer again would be “yes”. The tree would still grow. People would enjoy its shade and any fruits if it was that sort of tree. The birds would still be able to use its branches to rest or perhaps even build their nests. The tree would still filter the air to make the world better for everyone.
What does all of this have to do with living a more amazing life? Plenty. I am not just speaking to the arborists that read this blog. This question came up during an absolutely wonderful heart-felt conversation between the love of my life, Margie, and me. The question was – If you do an act of kindness and nobody knows about it or benefits from it in the moment, is it still worth doing? The quick answer, much like our tree analogies, is “yes”. This can be as simple as picking up a piece of litter as you are walking. In the long run it may not change the world, and may seem insignificant, but it is not. Many of you may be thinking “Why should I go out of my way to pick up someone else’s garbage?” Really, you shouldn’t have to. It is their responsibility and their fault it is on the ground.
So why do these things? The reasons are plenty, and I would really enjoy hearing some of the ones you think I may have missed in the comments below. On a personal level, doing kind and right things when nobody is watching is what developing a strong character is all about. If you do what is right when there is no one watching, you will do the right thing when people are watching. This holds true for many aspects of life. Healthy eating comes to mind. If you tell everyone you are eating healthy, but then go home and eat half a dozen doughnuts your waist will resemble…well…a doughnut. The same is true for gossip. If you talk well of others in public, but still gossip with your coworkers about this person or that, your spirit will not be at peace.
Another reason is simple, yet very important – you never know if somebody is watching. At my day job at the post office we have a poster reminding the carriers to handle each package with the care and respect it deserves. There is a not so subtle reminder that everyone has cell phones and even if you don’t think anyone is watching, before long the whole world may be watching. I have heard people say things such as “Well just because somebody does something once, it may not be who they really are.” or the very insightful phrase, “They wouldn’t have done that if they thought someone was watching/listening.” The point is this – we are what we do whether someone is watching or listening or not. We are what we repeatedly say and do. Of course we all make mistakes and that should be understood, but it is important to cultivate our character by acting consistently whether someone is watching or not.
Also, doing something good when we know, or at least think, that no one is watching gives us a good feeling inside. If you are new to this blog it we often stress the importance of keeping our state positive. Being in a positive state helps us reduce stress, increase joy and just feel better about ourselves. When that happens the ripple effect is our treatment of others and the attitude we bring to our jobs, family, friends and the world at large.
Lastly, like in the tree example, this has an unknown ripple effect. Later, by picking up that littler, we may bring a person joy when they see a clean street instead of one filled with garbage. We may have helped prevent an animal or child from picking that garbage up and putting it in their mouth. We may have had a great impact and never know it. Is doing something good or right worth doing if nobody ever knows or we can’t see the positive impact? The answer, as you may have deciphered, is a resounding “YES”.
Last week we began to look at what legacy we are going to leave behind. By taking a first look at my upcoming book How to Live Forever, we saw that the true way to live on after we are gone is to touch as many lives as possible while we are here. Today’s quote breaks it down a little more by letting us know that no matter what happens in life we should be good to each other.
My question for you, my amazing readers, is what will you do this year to be good to others and cement your legacy? Also, how are you able to treat others good while your own life may be in chaos? I look forward to hearing all of your ideas and suggestions. Let us start a discussion on different ways we can treat each other good.
The title of this blog post may seem a bit vague, but it is true. To do anything in life all we have to do is be good to each other. In a world that is ever shrinking due to technology, everything we do will involve and go through people. In my life whenever I have shown kindness to others it has always been returned to me. It may very well not be from the person I have shown the kindness to, but it definitely returns to me. Sometimes the payoff is in the great feeling I get knowing I helped someone.
As the week draws to a close and many of us have the next 48 hours to do with as we please let us spend it finding ways in which we can be kind to one another. Even those of us, like myself, that spend the weekend working we can still discover new and wonderful ways to share love and happiness with each other.
Ironically, it seems that when our lives are the darkest we can become the least helpful of others. It may seem logical on the surface. Why worry about helping someone else when I am facing my own bucket of problems? Funny thing is, helping others is one sure way to feel better about your own problems. When my life was the darkest I spent the extra hours I was using to feel sorry for myself or worry about my own life to help at a local meal program. Doing so not only forever changed my life, but blessed it in ways I could only begin to tell you. It gave me the stark reminder that others had it far worse than me. It also showed me how my gift of helping others see the beauty in themselves, others and the world around them can do so much good.
It has been moments of being good to others that has created this website, wrote my book, filmed videos on my YouTube channel and gave me this career. In everything I do, I strive to show kindness to others and without a doubt, that kindness has always returned to me. If you want your life to be filled with joy and blessings, the best way to achieve that is to fill other’s lives with joy and blessings.
Be that kind of person. What kind of person am I talking about? The one who always has something good to say about someone. The person who always has a smile to share. It may not seem to make a difference, but it does. As I write this I am sitting at a local coffee shop a few blocks from my day job at the United States Postal Service. I am reflecting on the countless times I have been in this exact situation. The service I receive from the person behind the counter can really help, or maybe distract from my writing. To the person helping me behind the counter I might be just another face in a sea of people wanting some kind of beverage and that is understandable. Even if they knew that their service may add a little extra step to a author doing his best to inspire the world to become the best versions of themselves it may or may not make a difference.
The truth is we all have this power. We do not know what the person we run into in the grocery store is up to. It could be a surgeon worried about performing open-heart surgery on an infant the next day. It could be a person struggling with personal loss that could use a bright spot in their lives. It could be a person struggling with depression and thinking about taking their own life. It could even be someone full of rage and thinking about taking the lives of others. The cases do not have to be this extreme and may not be, but we may never know. It could simply be a former bartender and current postal worker looking to better themselves and the world around them.
This is all about the power of a smile, of a simple ‘hello’. In all of us there lies a great power. It is a generally untapped power for the most part. That is the power of kindness. It makes a difference. It may be a big difference, it may just be that added inspiration the person needs. Chances are we will never know the effect that it has. Trust me when I tell you it has an effect on every single person you use it on. They probably will not even know you are using it. The more you practice this random acts of kindness the bigger effect you will have on the world.
I warn you that there is one side-effect you must be aware of. This kindness will come back to you. It may not come from those you have shared it with, but it will and must come back to you. That is a universal law. As you sow, so shall you reap. Before long you will notice those smiles and ‘hellos’ coming your way. You may find yourself with new friends and connections you never would have met. In addition, some people report a second side-effect. That is an increased sense of well-being. Seeing the positive way you affect others can only serve to put a smile on your face.
I would love to hear ways that you use the power of kindness. It would be great for all of us to learn simple ways that we can positively affect the lives of those around us. Share your ideas in the comments below!
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.
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.
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!
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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.
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.