I was cleaning out more boxes (!) last week and came across the book “Highlighted in Yellow A Short Course In Living Wisely and Choosing Well“. It’s a sweet book with lots of quotes on kindness, generosity, simple pleasures and making the right choices in life. We could all use a refresher course on any of these subjects. The title is perfect because what needs our attention is usually highlighted in yellow.
Immediately, I stopped cleaning, sat down (I needed a rest anyway) and began thumbing through this little gem.
Highlighted in Yellow was written in 2001 with lots of quotes and stories to help you make good life choices based on decent human qualities. And sometimes, a book just falls off the shelf and lands at your feet which is a sign that I need to read that book.
Quotes just began jumping out at me and filled my heart with gratitude and hope. This time of the year is tough for many of us because of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Highlighted in Yellow kept me company at just the right time. I hope it’s exactly the right time to share with you, too.
Kindness- or the lack thereof – has been on my heart a lot lately. If you watch television (especially the cable news) or hang out on social media, you know the world has gotten to be a tough place to stomach sometimes. There’s so much hatred and vitriol and nastiness – just because we can – and it hurts my heart.
Some years ago, I took a leap of faith and created a gratitude journal with quotes from all kinds of people to inspire and uplift each day. One of my favorite quotes that I found comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson and I used it as the introduction to the journal:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.”
To me, this is the perfect definition of kindness. We can all aspire to greatness through a random act of kindness.
Henry James said it best when he commented:
Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.
The gift of a kindness extended out always returns to the giver. You may never know how your kindness has touched someone, saved their life in a dark moment or by simply passing forward a blessing to someone in need.
“I expect to pass through this world but once. Therefore, if there be any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.” – William Penn
Many people believe that generosity has only to do with money. That’s not necessarily the case. You can be generous with your time, you can be generous with a sincere compliment and you can always be generous with your smile.
Not everyone has a lot of disposable income to show their generosity and I understand this all too well. Where I believe one of my gifts of generosity lies is in sensing when someone needs a warm hug at the right time.
“Let’s set aside our political and ideological differences and take a moment to love our families, hug our children, parents and grandparents and through love and respect, strengthen the bonds that made us the greatest nation on Earth.” – James Lankford
One of the ways mentioned in Highlighted in Yellow to practice generosity is to “contribute something to each Salvation Army Kettle you pass during the holidays”. Yes, I know it’s past the holidays. And I know not everyone has spare cash lying around but every single time I went to a store during the holidays, I always took ones and fives to put in the red bucket. I do it as much for the person ringing the bell as for the good the Salvation Army does in taking care of those less fortunate.
The good people of Puerto Rico are still suffering months after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island – these are American citizens who could surely use your generosity. If you’re not sure where you can safely give, Time Magazine has a list of agencies that are legitimate and could use your help.
“Wherever tragedy or disaster has struck in any corner of the world, the American people have promptly and generously extended hands of mercy and help. Generosity has never impoverished the giver; it has enriched the lives of those who have practiced it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
You can donate time and money to your local pet rescue shelter, to H.O.P.E. of Winston-Salem to help feed hungry local children or simply look and ask around for a special place that could use your generosity. You’ll get much more than you give.
Modern life means being connected 24/7 via smartphones and social media, hurried, harried and packed schedules from dawn until dusk and a dizzying pace that can wear down the best of us. Have you noticed how fast people drive these days? Everyone seems to nudge and push the speed limit as if there is only a destination and not a journey.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote in the Gift From The Sea:
“It is not the life of simplicity, but the life of multiplicity that the wise men warn us of. It leads not to unification, but to fragmentation. It does not bring grace, it destroys the soul.”
Our schedules and our children’s schedules are so tightly packed that we barely manage a meal together anymore. We grab a burger from the drive-thru window and eat on the way to the next stop. We drop off kids at one practice session, cram in homework and the ever-present video games, fall into bed exhausted only to do it all over again the next day.
One of my biggest selling products is Peaceful Ease Aromatherapy Rollerball for anxiety and depression. The very first time I handcrafted this particular product, I only created 12 roller balls in hopes that I could sell them at a festival – I didn’t want too many left over! I was stunned to sell out within the first 2 hours of the festival. I see now that anxiety and depression are huge issues that society lives with. How much of it has to do with never slowing down long enough to draw a long breath, much less relax?
Thornton Wilder wrote the amazing play Our Town that explores simple, everyday life in small town America. In it, the character Emily Webb says:
“…clocks ticking…and Mama’s sunflowers. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”
By packing our schedules so tightly, we are constantly on the move, filling our brains with noise, commotion, errands and chaos. We rarely take time to smell the roses along the way, enjoy the journey or explore our own hearts in peace and quiet.
“When we cannot bear to be alone it means we do not properly value or appreciate the only companion we will have from birth to death — ourselves.” – Eda LeShan
Take time this spring to plant a pot of flowers. Better yet, plant a garden with fruits, vegetables and flowers. Digging in the garden is one of life’s little pleasures and allows you to get your hands in the earth’s bounty and not only feed your family but your soul as well.
“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a home-grown tomato.” – Lewis Grizzard
I hope today that I have inspired you to take a moment for kindness, generosity and the simple pleasures of life. In this way, we all make a choice through the goodness of gratitude to send out our own special brand of magic and light up the world.
Please let me know in the comments below how you spread your joy in the world – I would love to hear from you.
As always, I’m grateful you stopped by.