Every word, every kind act, every generous offer makes an impact
Last month in my Kind Over Matter guest post, I talked about how “Small Things are No Small Thing.” Our acts of love and kindness, no matter how small or effortless they may seem, can ripple out in ways with big impact.
Ever since I wrote that piece I’ve been seeing examples of this everywhere. I received a note in the mail from a friend just to tell me she loves me. The radiologist who did my CT scan yesterday was so cheerful and kind. That man in the shorts and sandals at the train station laughed with me when we shared a short conversation. My new friend nodded and smiled encouragingly when I told her about the mystical hummingbird experience I’d had.
None of these things are world changing. And yet…they are life changing for me. Look how I’m still remembering them now. Look how they make my heart feel good, how I feel connected even in the memories of these moments of joy.
It seems important to go a little deeper into this topic and to remind ourselves that everything in our lives results from the choices we make. While we may often focus a lot of time and attention on the “big choices” – where to live, what to study, who to marry, what job to take – it is the “tiny choices” that can create the melody of our lives, the waters we swim in. These “tiny choices” could turn things around for ourselves – or the people we meet.
Did you ever have a day in which you started the morning by doing something loving for yourself or someone else? Maybe you treated yourself to a quiet walk in nature, listening to the birds chattering and feeling the warm kiss of a breeze on your face.
From that one moment of kindness other love sprang up. Maybe you smiled at a kindly stranger you passed and her face lit up with joy. Perhaps you picked up some trash by the side of the road and an elderly man across the street lifted his cane in a friendly wave of gratitude. Maybe you picked up your phone and sent an “I love you” text to your best friend. Tiny choices, perhaps, but each one fueling the next moment, each one creating a stronger weave in the fabric of your life.
I was working at an event with 1300 attendees a couple weeks ago. Maria, this vibrant woman with fuchsia glasses, came up to me. I know Maria from our shared online world of personal growth and I’ve met her at other events. She radiates joy.
Maria happens to be one of dozens of people who responded to my online request for folks to send cards to my mom for her 80th birthday. Maria sent a colorful card from Switzerland and my mother loved it. As someone who doesn’t travel, it meant the world to my mom to receive these cards from all over the world. (She loves to talk about all her friends from towns across the globe! She’ll say, “My friend Maria, in Switzerland, loves bright, colorful glasses and clothes.”)
When I saw her at the event, Maria hugged me. She said, “I have to tell you something.” She looked serious. “Sherry, your mom sent me a thank you note for my card to her and it arrived on the perfect day when I was going through something really traumatic and sad. It was a moment where I couldn’t find faith in myself. But your mom was so loving and grateful. Something about that note made me remember that I matter. It woke me up out of that depressed state and reminded me of my impact on the world.”
Now it just so happens that at that moment when Maria told me this story, I was feeling rather faithless. I’d just experienced a trauma of my own. I was putting on a happy face to serve others at this event, but inside I was very sad.
Do you see?
Do you feel the ripples?
I wanted to offer my mom some cards of joy. Maria jumped in at a moment when she was feeling full of love and cheer. She sent my mom a card. It just so happened that my mom had recently experienced a very big loss. She was grieving. That card and the many others brought her pinpricks of light. My mother chose to send every single person a thank you note, from the heart, so each person would know how meaningful their card was. One of those thank you notes landed at exactly the right time in Maria’s hands. Maria tells me the story. It happens to be a moment when I am feeling a bit lost in the dark. Maria’s story lights my path.
One small act of love can echo into infinity.
I’m telling you this so you know. These specifics may not be your story, but you have a thousand similar stories. Maybe you just never got the chance to see or hear or experience the ripples from your kind acts.
But they are there.
Every act of love expands the universe of love.