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I spy joy in a helping hand

A helping hand

Driving home from work yesterday I saw a wonderful act of kindness between strangers.  Sitting at a light in the 97 degree heat I noticed the car next to me had its hazard lights flashing.  I let out a sympathetic “bummer”.

My sympathy soon turned to awe as the car in front of me pulled ahead of the stalled vehicle and stopped.  The driver and passenger got out, the passenger got in the driver’s seat and the driver came back to the stalled vehicle and said something to the people in it. The passenger of the stalled car got out and the two men stood behind the car until the light turned green, then they began to push. They got the car through the light and off to the side of the road, where the first car was waiting for them.

It made me feel so good I couldn’t help but smile and wave.  And quickly take this photo with my phone.

It’s so nice to see a kind act between strangers.  And it reminded me that such kindness is more common than we think.  In fact, it happens all the time.  We just aren’t always right there to see it.  When we are fortunate enough to witness kindnesses in the moment it’s a really good idea to pay close attention to them, and soak up all the goodness you can.  I truly believe it has more anti-oxidant powers than blueberries and acai combined, squared and then squared again.

Wheatgrass, step aside.

July 9, 2010   1 Comment

I spy joy in a leap of faith

Leap of Faith

I was going through the saved photos on my camera and came across this lovely image. I can’t recall where or when I took the photo, but I think this might be a painting in the window of a store front. I vaguely recall something like that. Maybe.

The image alone is eye-catching to me. But I am also struck by the quote from Margaret Shepherd:  Sometimes your  only available transportation is a leap of faith.

Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.

The older I get the more I believe that faith is incredibly important. It is essential for the growth and development of the human soul to believe in something–to be able to believe and trust in something outside of ourselves–whatever you choose that to be. That belief, that faith, can act as an anchor.

I have faith in kindness and love. I have faith that there is good inside every single living thing, even if it’s really hard to see. I have faith that every experience we have can make us better, if we let it. I have faith in our ability to create meaningful, joyful lives. I have faith in the healing power of laughter and that a smile can work magic. I have faith that if we remain true to that which we believe in, miracles can happen.

April 11, 2010   No Comments

It’s official – kindness is contagious

Kindness is Contagious - Spread it

We all know it’s true.  But now there’s scientific proof — kindness is contagious.

In a study published in the March 8 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of California, San Diego and Harvard provide the first laboratory evidence that cooperative behavior is contagious and that it spreads from person to person to person. When people benefit from kindness they “pay it forward” by helping others who were not originally involved, and this creates a cascade of cooperation that influences dozens more in a social network. – from Science Daily

Read the whole article at Science Daily here.

March 12, 2010   No Comments

I spy joy in a bus shelter

Bus shelter in Vancouver, WA

Peace is in the air.  Or at least it seems to be.  I keep seeing signs of it everywhere.

A house in our neighborhood has a big peace sign on the lawn made with Christmas lights, a notice for the Let’s Think Peace art show came across Twitter from YES Magazine, and today I saw this bus shelter painted for peace.  These are just the highlights–I’ve seen peace sign rings, bumper stickers, t-shirts…

It’s kind of nice, the way the concept of being kind to each other seems to be top of mind.  It reminds me a little of a targeted ad campaign the way it shows up around every corner, but in a good way.  Which gives me a great idea: what if some wonderful foundation (anyone out there know Bill or Melinda Gates?) spent a few million on an ad campaign promoting peace and kindness across the nation?

I can see it now.  A billboard simply stating, “Be Kind”, a newspaper ad in the life section with smiling children of different races hugging or holding hands, Facebook ads asking, “How many times have you said I Love You today?”, the Google homepage with peace signs in the o’s, radio stations running 15- and 30-second spots with a kind warm voice reading a variety of quotations on peace, love and happiness, TV commercials with slide shows of joyous images.

Wouldn’t that be grand?

What might happen if we suddenly became bombarded with messages of kindness and hope, rather than fear and despair?  Would creating top of mind awareness for peace and kindness result in 5 more friendly acts per person per day? Or 2? Or 10? And what would the ripple effect of that be?  Less crime? More community?  It’s difficult to know for sure.  But I sure would like to find out.

Happy, peaceful holidays to you all.

December 29, 2009   1 Comment

I spy joy in giving

Winter kindness
Winter kindness

The parking lot where my car sits while I’m at work every day is frequented by several homeless people. I used to think I had great parking karma when I’d come in at close to 9am and still get a spot up against the building near the sidewalk.  Then one day I arrived to find the real reason I was so lucky: at the head of one of these prime spots was a person sleeping.  Some days there were two or even occasionally three people there. The days I got great parking weren’t due to the “parking angels” at all; it was because someone had been sleeping there not too long before I pulled in.

After nine months of parking in this lot, I’ve grown accustomed to its nighttime tenants. But today, walking out of the lot, I saw something new. Hanging on the parking meter just 20 feet from where homeless people can often be found was a wool jacket.  This in itself was enough to catch my eye, but when I saw the tag still on the jacket I had to take a closer look.  The jacket was purchased from Goodwill for just under $10.

I wasn’t there to see how this jacket came to rest on the meter, but you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure it out.  It’s December, the week after Thanksgiving, and it’s getting cold out.  Some thoughtful person must have figured one of the homeless people who sleeps in the lot could use a wool coat about now. And for roughly what it costs to eat one lunch out this coat will make the winter months a bit warmer for someone in need.

When I came back at the end of the day the jacket was gone. I’m hoping it’s being worn this minute by one of the many people I see walking around downtown that need it. It brings me great joy to know at least three people have already been warmed by this random act of kindness: the person who bought the jacket, the person who is wearing the jacket, and me.

December 3, 2008   2 Comments