A Simple Philosophy To Live By.

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[success] Happiness consists not in having, but of being, not of possessing, but of enjoying. It is the warm glow of a heart at peace with itself. ~ Norman Vincent Peale[/success]

My friend Laura always pays two dollars to cross the toll bridge on our highway, even though it only costs one.  The other day she had her friend Bob with her as she pulled up to the toll and paid her two dollars saying this is for me and whomever comes behind…her usual thing.

Why did you do that, Bob asked her, because it feels good, said Laura.

Does anyone ever say thanks?  He asked.

Not really she said.  I think I once had someone catch up to me and wave a thank you as he sailed past, but I think for most people they can’t quite work out what’s going on.

Then why do you do it?

Because it feels good.

But you don’t even know the people behind you are.

Correct.

What if they’re millionaires?

So what. 

But if they have more money than you why would you pay their toll?  She gently explained that it wasn’t about them, it was about her.

Not everyone gets it

[success] An act of goodness is of itself an act of happiness. No reward coming after the event can compare with the sweet reward that went with it. ~ Maurice Maeterlinck[/success]

Laura was definitely on to something.  A British study from last year showed that, over a ten day period, a group that had been asked to participate in daily acts of kindness recorded feeling happier than the group asked to simply do something new for ten days.

In another study here in the States, researchers asked participants which left them feeling happier, spending $20 to $100 dollars on themselves or $20 to $100 dollars on others.  The overwhelming response was that they felt happier when they bought something for someone else.  And at this time of year, we all get that, don’t we?

The results, according to the researchers, indicate a ‘positive feedback loop’ between kindness and happiness.  So it would seem the more frequently Laura crossed the bridge and gave someone a dollar she would feel happier and be encouraged to continue the practice.

Now that’s got to be a useful piece of information for someone.

Less complications, more kindness

We don’t need to complicate our lives, we don’t need to find ways to occupy higher states of consciousness, we simply need to make kindness a philosophy we live by.

We users of the laws of life knew this already didn’t we?  The difference between Bob and Laura is their consciousness, the vibration of energy they predominantly live in.

being-kindActs of kindness stem from the state of mind we occupy, ‘cos all our actions are led by our conscious awareness.  In that moment of paying the toll for another Laura is in a great and happy vibrational state, which leads her to have great and happy experiences.

Bob, not so much.  He didn’t get that it wasn’t about anyone else, things rarely are, they’re usually about us, and in this case about Laura and how she felt.  And, how she felt, allowed her to follow through on a random act of kindness, setting the stage for more happy feelings and more kindness. How about that for a win/win?

Who do you think was having – at least in this moment – the happiest day?  We all know the answer to that one methinks.

There are times though when it isn’t that we’re necessarily unhappy, we’re just not aware of actually feeling happy.  Bob might not have been an unhappy soul, but Laura’s act of kindness was in harmony with who she was being in that moment, and that makes for happiness.  We feel happy when we’re in harmony with life and life is a wonderful gift for us to honour.

Happiness isn’t something we grasp hold of…don’t bother seeking it, it’s not to be found.  It’s not a goal to be accomplished it’s a bye-product of what we do, how we live, who we are.

Thich Nhat Hanh says that if in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.

And interestingly enough there’s a wonderful Ted talk on smiling that you can check out below, which basically tells us that smiling can be a predictor of how long we live,  it can make us feel good (and we know what that brings into our life) and improves our health and well being.  And, yes, it counts as an act of kindness.

I’ve got a brilliant idea.  How about a ten day course in kindness for us?  One act of kindness a day for the next ten days.  Or for those already stressed out with a bunch of things to do for the holidays, how about simply smiling more often every day at everyone you meet?

[success] Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. ~ Mother Teresa[/success]

Encourage one another.

Love Elle.

xoxo

ElleSommer
Elle Sommer is the author and founder of Live Purposefully Now, a website focused on sharing the insights and ancient wisdom that have collectively changed her life, in the desire to make a meaningful impact on yours. Trained at Coach U and having completed a year long training with Bob Proctor, her mission is to encourage and inspire others to build the business, relationships and life they want. Get your free instant access to Success Simplified ebook and get the tips, techniques and secrets of successfully living the life you want.

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13 Comments

  • Grrr. You did it again. The kind of post I’d write. Hugs. I love you, you know.

    I know exactly how Laura feels – I do that when I fill air at the petrol pump and pay for whoever’s there in line. Also, because of the ban on plastic bags, I carry a little folded eco stack with me and distribute to those who don’t have carrybags. Oh, the smiles I get, I treasure.

    There’s nothing that contributes to our happiness more than showing kindness to others, and I am very lucky I grew up with strong women who taught me that it is not important to be financially rich to GIVE, because there are so many ways.

    Yes, my English teacher WILL frown at that sentence.

    Many people don’t “get” it, because they have expectations. Most people would like it to be known when they donate or give generously. Therein lies the problem. Expecting credit for everything puts such a restriction on living life fully.

    Hugs, Elle. This post has me singing. Love, Vidya

    • Vidya, you write so beautifully that I’m always touched to hear you’d have written a post I’ve penned. Of course the fact that we’re of the same tribe does help. 🙂 Same wise women in our life, similar perspective on living life…it’s not surprising that we could intertwine our posts. And how joyful to me that this one has you singing. You are such a doll. 🙂

  • Great post! Love it! We do and give because it feels good, not because of any payback. Expecting and waiting for it totally lessens and even takes away from the giving act. But we know that oh so many people ‘need’ that recognition, accolades and big Thank You’s and even plaques in their name. Might it be Ego involved here???!!
    Laura’s got the right idea. We need more Lauras.
    Thanks.

    • Hello Harriett, you speak truth kiddo, we do need more Lauras, the more the merrier. So happy you like this one. I’m smiling at you right now…does that count as my first act of kindness today? 🙂

  • So inspiring Elle. I love the idea of giving for the sake of giving without any thank you or notice needed. Great idea to give for the next 10 days. That is truly the spirit all year, but especially during this time. Take care.

  • I’m so sorry that some of your comments from this post have disappeared – the site went wonky and came back minus a few things. Humble apologies. 🙂

  • Elle- Count me in for the next 10 days.

    One of my favorite quotes is from Rabbi Hillel (I think). It goes something like this:

    ‘The only thing that matters in life is kindness. The rest is commentary’.

    Apropos of this post (which I love) is a skype conversation I had a few days ago with a friend of mine who was in Peru on a spiritual journey which was profound. This is a woman with a huge heart.

    She mentioned to me that someone who had been extremely kind to her – I think she might have even stayed at his home- asked that she buy shoes for his daughter. She mentioned how uncomfortable it made her feel to be asked for help. I was a bit surprised but kept my mouth shut – especially because these people are living in poverty.

    Well, she did buy the shoes. And you know what her response was? How wonderful it made her feel doing it.

    I don’t think she yet knows what a huge gift she was given by being asked to help out….

    As always dear Elle- you hit a home run. xxoo-Fran

    • Hello Fran, how lovely to see you. It’s a lot of fun, this 10 day kindness programme – I even found myself baking some cookies for someone. 🙂 I love the story about your friend in Peru and you are so right, what a gift we’re given if someone asks for help and we can give it. Thanks for sharing this aspect of giving Fran. 🙂

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